For some Estrella residents in Goodyear, the serene views of the surrounding mountains are enough. For others, the opportunity to get out in these Sierra Estrella mountains is what drew them to the master-planned community in the first place. The good news for both groups – the new Blackbeard trail just off Estrella Parkway is now open and ready for adventure-seekers and mountain-meditators alike to enjoy.
Many of the Estrella residents who make regular use of the 65+ miles of trails in and around the community are also the ones behind the effort to create new ones. Longtime Estrella resident and Trail Committee member Henry Brumbach is one of those passionate people who shared he’s excited for what this new trail offers. “It will end up being one of the more challenging climbs in Estrella, getting us into some terrain with gorgeous views.”
The Trail Committee takes several things into consideration when deciding where to create a trail. “Some of it is desire, where we’d like to go. But not all the terrain, while it looks fun to ride, is accessible or suited for trails.”
The committee identified the location for this latest trail back in 2018. “Up here, for Blackbeard, we’ve hiked this area probably half a dozen times just to get the lay of the land and figure out the best place to put the trail as well as some future trails that can go in after we complete this one,” he said.
Once they decide where they’d like the trail to go, they place flags to create a rough trail path, taking into account the various trail-building rules and guidelines regarding slope and turns as well as large rocks and cacti. These rules help assure that when water runs down the mountain, it runs over the trail, not down it.
After flags, comes rope. “On the build day we come out and we stretch a rope out and that’s the guide for everybody to build the trail to. That rope helps show the sharpness of a turn to make sure it’s not too sharp. That it’s ridable,” explained Brumbach. A team of volunteers armed with tools including shovels, picks and rakes follow the rope, creating a trail one layer at a time. “We initially rake the top layer off and put that onto the downhill edge, and then we come back with picks and hoes and rakes and we put a bench cut in and make it smooth, then again with a rake leaf to smooth it all off.”
Although the location for Blackbeard was identified in 2018, construction didn’t begin until recently. Now, after 8 build days and 125 volunteer hours, Blackbeard Trail is just shy of .5 miles with another 2.5 to go. “This will be a two-year build,” said Brumbach. “We stop working in April because it just gets too hot, and we’ll pick it up again in the fall.” It’s a labor of love that has a way to go. “I thank every volunteer who’s been out here. Without them we wouldn’t be nearly as far. We’d get it done eventually but without them it would take forever.”
Blackbeard joins nearby trails Pirate, Bootlegger, Rumrunner and Yellowbeard. “The names go back to the original trails out here. They were pirated. They weren’t anything official with the previous developer, they were just enthusiasts riding through the desert, putting some trails in.”
“We’re here really to help the community as a whole, we’re advocates for just getting out in available space and responsibly exploring, biking and hiking it. And we’re grateful to the new developer for supporting us because many of these trails will stay for families to enjoy for years. These will be here for your grandkids, and even past that.”
With nearly 20 miles of Estrella trails of his own making, Brumbach says this one is special. “You can’t see civilization and you forget that Estrella is… well, you can’t see it. You’re in the middle of nowhere yet you’re just six miles from home probably.”
Find your new home at Estrella.com and discover why 7,600 families already call this diverse, welcoming West Valley master-planned community home. Located in Goodyear, Arizona amongst pristine mountains and a dramatic desert landscape, Estrella amenities include multiple Residents’ Clubs, resort-style pools and a waterpark, 72 acres of lakes, 65-plus miles of paths and trails, the Yacht Club of Estrella, the award-winning Nicklaus Design course at the Golf Club of Estrella, community welcome center Casa Lucero, and more than 50 neighborhood parks.