The City of Safford envisioned the creation of multi-use, non-motorized trail system for pedestrians, bicyclists and skaters. The Gila Valley Trails System is a 7.5-mile regional network that connects the neighboring towns of Graham County to existing trails on federal lands. The multi-use pathways aims to encourage sustainable rural development and provide healthy recreational opportunities. Exercise stations, designed by a health care educator, have been placed along the trail to provide opportunities for a full-body workout. Additional trail amenities include wildlife viewing, picnic, and comfort facilities.
With the help of the National Park Service's Rivers & Trails Program, the project has evolved into a multi-generational, multi-community, participatory planning process that has brought together friends, neighbors, children and parents. The trails plan and interpretive signage programs reflect diverse input from both youth and seniors.
The project's first phase involved a 3.5-mile paved trail utilized for both recreation and safe routes to school for local children. Upon final completion - scheduled for 2006 - the multi-use, scenic pathways within the City of Safford will connect parks, medical and educational facilities, senior housing centers, recreational facilities and public and commercial areas to the trail system. They will also connect to the City's existing bike route system.