An Arizona congresswoman is aiming to become the first member of Congress to hike the 800-mile Arizona National Scenic Trail.
Representative Martha McSally, a Republican who represents the 2nd Congressional District, started her journey in late September at Coronado National Memorial along Arizona's border with Mexico, her office said in a news release. The National Park Service site is the home of Passage 1, the southermost segment of the Arizona Trail, which crosses the state from north to south.
McSally said she plans to hike the trail in segments in the months ahead to draw attention to the trail and the need to protect Arizona's public lands.
"I’m hiking to show our district, our state, and our nation that these treasures matter, that outdoor recreation is important — and most of all — to demonstrate the pride we have in our home of Arizona," McSally said. "Elected officials have a responsibility to help protect our lands for future generations. I’m willing to demonstrate that I take this responsibility seriously."
McSally's method of hiking a few miles at a time is the most popular way of tackling the Arizona Trail, which was designated a National Scenic Trail in 2009 and completed in 2011. Less common is "thru-hiking," whereby hikers traverse the entire stretch in a month or two. It's been done much faster, though — last year, an Arizona native covered the whole distance in just under 16 days.
Sights along the trail include Saguaro National Park, the Mazatzal Mountains, the San Francisco Peaks and the Grand Canyon. For more information about the trail, visit the Arizona Trail Association's website.
Coronado National Memorial is in McSally's district, which also includes Tucson and the far southeast corner of Arizona. In 2016, she introduced a bill to have Chiricahua National Monument, another attraction in District 2, declared a national park; she said she's continuing to move that effort forward.