Central Arizona Project (CAP)Trail In Arizona

Here is everything you need to know about the Central Arizona Project (CAP)Trail:

  • Trail System: National Recreation Trail
  • State: Arizona
  • Length: 8 miles.
  • Type: Multi-use
  • Surface: paved
  • Managed By: Central Arizona Water Conservation District
  • Permit Required?: No
  • Website: https://www.captrail.org/

The Central Arizona Project (CAP) Trail holds a significant place in the history of Arizona, as it is closely tied to the development of the Central Arizona Project itself. The CAP Trail follows the path of the canal system that was constructed as part of the CAP, a massive water diversion project initiated in the mid-20th century. The project aimed to bring water from the Colorado River to central and southern Arizona, providing a reliable water supply for agricultural, industrial, and municipal needs.

The construction of the CAP began in 1973 and was completed in 1993, spanning a distance of approximately 336 miles. The CAP Trail, which runs alongside the canal, was established to provide recreational opportunities for the local communities and visitors. It offers a unique perspective on the history and engineering marvel of the project.

The CAP itself was a response to the growing water demands in Arizona, particularly in the arid regions of central and southern parts of the state. The canal system was designed to transport water from Lake Havasu on the Colorado River to the Phoenix metropolitan area and Tucson. The project involved the construction of numerous pumping stations, aqueducts, tunnels, and reservoirs, showcasing the engineering prowess required to overcome the challenging terrain and vast distances.

Today, the CAP Trail serves as a reminder of the ambitious vision and determination of those who sought to secure a sustainable water supply for Arizona. It stands as a testament to the ingenuity and perseverance of the engineers, laborers, and communities involved in the construction of the Central Arizona Project.

While On The Trail

Access Points

1. Lake Pleasant Regional Park Trailhead – Located near Peoria, this trailhead provides access to the CAP Trail and offers parking, restrooms, and picnic areas.

2. New River Trailhead – Situated in Anthem, this trailhead offers parking, restrooms, and access to the CAP Trail. It is a popular starting point for hikers and bikers.

3. Thunderbird Conservation Park Trailhead – Located in Glendale, this trailhead provides access to the CAP Trail and offers parking, restrooms, and picnic areas. It is a great spot for outdoor activities and wildlife viewing.

4. Rio Vista Park Trailhead – Situated in Peoria, this trailhead offers parking, restrooms, and access to the CAP Trail. It is a family-friendly park with playgrounds, sports fields, and picnic areas.

5. Glendale Heroes Regional Park Trailhead – Located in Glendale, this trailhead provides access to the CAP Trail and offers parking, restrooms, and picnic areas. It is a popular spot for walking, jogging, and biking.

6. Papago Park Trailhead – Situated in Tempe, this trailhead offers parking, restrooms, and access to the CAP Trail. It is a scenic park with hiking trails, fishing ponds, and picnic areas.

7. Tempe Town Lake Trailhead – Located in Tempe, this trailhead provides access to the CAP Trail and offers parking, restrooms, and picnic areas. It is a bustling area with recreational activities, including boating and paddleboarding.

8. Mesa Riverview Park Trailhead – Situated in Mesa, this trailhead offers parking, restrooms, and access to the CAP Trail. It is a spacious park with playgrounds, sports fields, and a splash pad.

9. Gilbert Riparian Preserve Trailhead – Located in Gilbert, this trailhead provides access to the CAP Trail and offers parking, restrooms, and picnic areas. It is a nature preserve with walking paths, birdwatching opportunities, and educational exhibits.

10. Chandler Paseo Trailhead – Situated in Chandler, this trailhead offers parking, restrooms, and access to the CAP Trail. It is a well-maintained trail with scenic views and opportunities for walking, running, and biking.

Transportation Available

1. Valley Metro Bus – Public bus service covering the Phoenix metropolitan area.
2. Lyft – Ride-hailing service connecting passengers with nearby drivers.
3. Uber – On-demand transportation service providing rides through a mobile app.
4. Yellow Cab – Traditional taxi service available for transportation needs.
5. Lime – Electric scooter and bike-sharing service for short-distance travel.
6. Bird – Electric scooter rental service for convenient and eco-friendly transportation.
7. Grid Bike Share – Bike-sharing program offering rental bicycles for short trips.
8. Enterprise Rent-A-Car – Car rental service providing various vehicle options for longer journeys.
9. Zipcar – Car-sharing service allowing members to rent vehicles by the hour or day.
10. Amtrak – National passenger railroad service with nearby stations for longer-distance travel.


The amenities available at the Central Arizona Project (CAP) Trail may vary depending on the specific section or location along the trail. However, here are some common amenities that can be found along the CAP Trail:

1. Restrooms: Some sections of the trail may have restroom facilities available for public use. These restrooms may be located at trailheads or other designated areas.

2. Parking: There are parking areas provided at various trailheads along the CAP Trail. These parking lots allow visitors to park their vehicles and access the trail easily.

3. Camping Sites: While camping is not typically allowed directly on the CAP Trail, there may be nearby campgrounds or designated camping areas in the vicinity of the trail. Visitors can inquire about camping options at nearby parks or recreation areas.

4. Picnic Areas: Some sections of the CAP Trail may have designated picnic areas where visitors can stop and enjoy a meal or snack. These areas often have picnic tables, benches, and sometimes even grills for cooking.

5. Water Stations: Along the trail, there may be water stations or fountains where visitors can refill their water bottles or hydration packs. These stations are essential for staying hydrated during outdoor activities.

6. Trailhead Facilities: At various trailheads, you may find additional amenities such as information kiosks, maps, interpretive signs, and sometimes even visitor centers. These facilities provide useful information about the trail and its surroundings.

7. Bike Racks: To accommodate cyclists, some trailheads or rest areas may have bike racks where riders can securely park their bicycles while they explore the trail on foot or engage in other activities.

It is important to note that the availability of amenities can vary along different sections of the CAP Trail. It is recommended to check with local authorities or trail management organizations for specific information about amenities at a particular location along the trail.

Nearby Services

1. Hotel Tucson City Center – Conveniently located hotel offering comfortable accommodations near the CAP Trail.
2. The Coronado Hotel – Charming hotel with a historic vibe, situated close to the CAP Trail.
3. Subway – Popular fast-food chain serving sandwiches and salads, located near the CAP Trail.
4. McDonald’s – Well-known fast-food restaurant offering burgers, fries, and more, situated in proximity to the CAP Trail.
5. Circle K – Convenient convenience store providing snacks, drinks, and basic necessities near the CAP Trail.
6. Urgent Care Extra – Walk-in medical clinic offering urgent care services, located close to the CAP Trail.
7. Tucson Medical Center – Full-service hospital providing emergency medical care, situated near the CAP Trail.
8. Tucson Fire Department – Local fire station offering emergency services, located in the vicinity of the CAP Trail.
9. Tucson Police Department – Nearby police station providing law enforcement services for the CAP Trail area.
10. AAA Arizona – Automobile club offering roadside assistance and other services, situated near the CAP Trail.

Central Arizona Project (CAP)Trail Difficulty Notes

The Central Arizona Project (CAP) Trail presents a moderate difficulty level for hikers and bikers. Spanning approximately 44 miles, this trail offers a diverse terrain that includes paved paths, gravel roads, and some sections with loose sand. While the trail is mostly flat, there are occasional inclines and descents that require some effort. Additionally, the desert climate and lack of shade can make the trail challenging, especially during the hot summer months. However, with proper preparation and adequate water supply, the CAP Trail is a rewarding adventure that showcases the beauty of Arizona’s landscape.

Features And Attractions

1. Lake Pleasant: Located northwest of Phoenix, Lake Pleasant is a scenic reservoir along the CAP Trail. It offers beautiful views of the water surrounded by desert landscapes.

2. White Tank Mountains: As you travel along the CAP Trail, you’ll encounter the White Tank Mountains. These mountains provide stunning panoramic views and are home to various hiking trails and petroglyph sites.

3. Estrella Mountain Regional Park: Situated southwest of Phoenix, Estrella Mountain Regional Park is another natural landmark along the CAP Trail. It features picturesque desert scenery, hiking trails, and opportunities for wildlife spotting.

4. Gila River: The CAP Trail follows the path of the Gila River for a significant portion. This river offers scenic views, especially during the spring when wildflowers bloom along its banks.

5. Casa Grande Ruins National Monument: Located near Coolidge, Arizona, the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument is a historical site along the CAP Trail. It preserves the remains of an ancient Hohokam village, including the famous Casa Grande (“Great House”).

6. Picacho Peak State Park: Situated near Picacho, Arizona, Picacho Peak State Park is a natural landmark along the CAP Trail. The park is known for its distinctive peak, which offers panoramic views of the surrounding desert.

7. San Tan Mountain Regional Park: Located southeast of Phoenix, San Tan Mountain Regional Park is another natural landmark along the CAP Trail. It features scenic desert landscapes, hiking trails, and opportunities for wildlife observation.

8. Superstition Mountains: As you approach the eastern end of the CAP Trail, you’ll encounter the Superstition Mountains. These rugged mountains are known for their beauty and legends, including the famous Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine.

9. Tonto National Forest: The CAP Trail passes through parts of the Tonto National Forest, offering scenic views of the forested areas, canyons, and rivers. This national forest is the fifth-largest in the United States and provides numerous recreational opportunities.

10. Roosevelt Lake: Located east of Phoenix, Roosevelt Lake is a reservoir along the CAP Trail. It offers stunning views of the lake surrounded by desert landscapes and is a popular spot for boating, fishing, and camping.

These are just a few examples of the scenic views, historical sites, and natural landmarks you can encounter along the Central Arizona Project (CAP) Trail.

Usage Guidelines

1. Pets must be kept on a leash at all times while on the CAP Trail.
2. Owners are responsible for cleaning up after their pets and disposing of waste properly.
3. Bicycles and other non-motorized vehicles are allowed on the trail, but motorized vehicles are prohibited.
4. The trail is open year-round, but certain sections may have seasonal restrictions or closures due to maintenance or weather conditions. Check for any posted signs or updates before using the trail.
5. Camping or overnight stays are not permitted on the CAP Trail.
6. Fires and open flames are strictly prohibited.
7. Littering is not allowed. Please dispose of trash in designated bins.
8. Respect other trail users and yield to pedestrians and slower-moving traffic.
9. Stay on designated trails and do not venture off into restricted areas.
10. Use caution and be aware of your surroundings, especially near waterways or steep areas.
11. Fishing is allowed in designated areas, but make sure to have the appropriate permits and follow all fishing regulations.
12. Hunting or trapping is not permitted on the CAP Trail.
13. Alcohol consumption is prohibited on the trail.
14. Any organized events or gatherings on the trail require prior approval and permits from the appropriate authorities.
15. Report any suspicious or illegal activities to the local authorities or trail management.

Seasonal Information

The Central Arizona Project (CAP) Trail is a popular recreational trail that stretches for 44 miles along the Central Arizona Project canal. This scenic trail offers stunning views of the surrounding desert landscape, making it a great destination for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. When planning a visit to the CAP Trail, it is important to consider the best times of the year to visit and any seasonal closures that may affect your trip.

One of the best times to visit the CAP Trail is during the spring season, particularly from March to May. During this time, the weather is generally mild and pleasant, with temperatures ranging from the 70s to the 80s Fahrenheit (20s to 30s Celsius). The desert landscape comes alive with vibrant wildflowers and blooming cacti, creating a picturesque backdrop for your hike or bike ride along the trail. Springtime also offers a great opportunity to spot various bird species that migrate through the area.

Another favorable time to visit the CAP Trail is during the fall season, from September to November. The temperatures start to cool down after the scorching summer months, making outdoor activities more comfortable. Fall brings beautiful sunsets and clear skies, providing breathtaking views along the trail. It is also a great time to witness the changing colors of the desert foliage as some plants prepare for the winter months.

It is important to note that the CAP Trail may have seasonal closures or restrictions due to extreme weather conditions. During the summer months, particularly from June to August, temperatures in the region can soar well above 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius). These extreme temperatures can make outdoor activities dangerous and uncomfortable, leading to temporary closures of the trail for safety reasons. Additionally, during the monsoon season, which typically occurs from July to September, heavy rains and flash floods can occur, resulting in temporary closures to ensure visitor safety.

Before planning your visit to the CAP Trail, it is recommended to check with local authorities or the trail management for any current closures or restrictions. This will help ensure a safe and enjoyable experience while exploring this beautiful trail in Central Arizona.


1. Wheelchair Accessible Parking: Designated parking spaces are available near the trail entrance for easy access.
2. Paved Pathways: The trail features smooth, paved pathways suitable for wheelchair users and individuals with mobility aids.
3. Accessible Restrooms: ADA-compliant restrooms are conveniently located along the trail, ensuring accessibility for all visitors.
4. Rest Areas with Benches: Regularly spaced rest areas with benches provide opportunities for wheelchair users to take breaks and enjoy the surroundings.
5. Accessible Picnic Areas: Picnic areas equipped with accessible tables and seating options are available for individuals with disabilities.
6. Signage and Wayfinding: Clear signage and wayfinding markers are in place to assist individuals with visual impairments or cognitive disabilities.
7. Handrails and Guardrails: Handrails and guardrails are installed at appropriate locations to ensure safety and stability for individuals with mobility challenges.
8. Accessible Water Fountains: Wheelchair-accessible water fountains are strategically placed along the trail for hydration needs.
9. Braille Information Boards: Information boards featuring Braille text provide accessibility for individuals with visual impairments.
10. Accessible Trailhead: The trailhead is designed to be accessible, with ramps, curb cuts, and other features to facilitate entry for wheelchair users.

Safety Information

1. Extreme heat: The CAP Trail can experience high temperatures, posing a risk of heat exhaustion or heatstroke.
2. Limited shade: The trail may have limited shaded areas, increasing the risk of sunburn or heat-related illnesses.
3. Wildlife encounters: Hikers may encounter various wildlife species, including snakes, which can pose a potential safety hazard.
4. Flash floods: Sudden heavy rainfall can cause flash floods along the trail, leading to dangerous conditions.
5. Uneven terrain: The trail may have uneven surfaces, increasing the risk of trips, falls, or ankle injuries.
6. Limited water sources: There may be limited access to potable water along the trail, requiring hikers to carry sufficient water supplies.
7. Remote location: The trail passes through remote areas, potentially leading to difficulties in accessing emergency services.
8. Limited cell phone reception: Some sections of the trail may have limited or no cell phone reception, hindering communication in case of emergencies.
9. Trail maintenance: Periodic maintenance or closures may occur, requiring hikers to stay updated on any advisories or closures.
10. Sun exposure: Due to the desert environment, prolonged sun exposure can lead to sunburns, dehydration, or other heat-related illnesses.

Conservation Notes

The Central Arizona Project (CAP) Trail is a significant recreational trail located in central Arizona, stretching approximately 44 miles. In terms of conservation status, the trail traverses through diverse ecosystems and landscapes, showcasing the region’s natural beauty and providing opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts to connect with nature. The trail passes through areas that are protected and managed by various conservation organizations and agencies, ensuring the preservation of the surrounding environment.

One of the key conservation aspects of the CAP Trail is its proximity to the Central Arizona Project canal, which serves as a vital water source for the region. The canal plays a crucial role in supplying water to communities, agriculture, and wildlife habitats. Efforts are made to maintain the integrity of the canal and its surrounding areas, ensuring that the trail does not disrupt the water flow or impact the delicate balance of the ecosystem.

Additionally, the CAP Trail passes through several protected areas, including national forests and wildlife refuges. These areas are managed to conserve and protect the native flora and fauna, providing a habitat for a wide range of species. Conservation efforts focus on maintaining the natural biodiversity, preventing habitat degradation, and minimizing human impact on the surrounding environment. The trail provides an opportunity for visitors to appreciate and learn about the importance of these protected areas and the need for their conservation.

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