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Poetry Friday: 'Arizona In Your Soul'

The Arizona Trail Association

This week's segment of Poetry Friday honors the 50th anniversary of the National Trail System Act, legislation that helped establish a series of trails across the nation dedicated to preservation, conservation, public access and enjoyment of the outdoors. In the Southwest, the Arizona Trail stretches 800 miles from Utah to Mexico and includes  Buffalo Park in Flagstaff. The effort to create that section was led by the late Flagstaff teacher Dale Shewalter, known as the Father of the Arizona Trail. He died of cancer in 2010. Today, his poem 'The Arizona Trail' is read by Matt Nelson, executive director of the Arizona Trail Association. 

Matt Nelson:

In February of 2003 after having worked on the Arizona Trail both in concept and on the ground, he’d been at this for over 25 years. And knowing full-well by 2003 that it was going to get completed, the last few sections near Flagstaff and in Vail and then also a little further north, he know the trail was going to be built from border to border which is incredible, especially because it was done without really almost any federal dollars whatsoever, mostly volunteer labor, individuals, groups, families, businesses got together to support this cause. So, in 2003 he penned a poem that we know as ‘The Arizona Trail’.

‘The Arizona Trail’, by Dale Shewalter

In the land of Arizona,

through desert heat or snow,

winds a trail for folks to follow

from Utah to old Mexico.


It’s the Arizona Trail;

a path through the great Southwest.

A diverse track through wood and stone,

your spirit it will test.

Some will push and pedal,

some will hike or run,

others will ride their horse or mule,

what else could be more fun?

Oh sure, you’ll sweat and blister.

You’ll feel the miles each day.

You’ll shiver at the loneliness.

Your feet and seat will pay. 

Credit Arizona Trails Association
Dale Shewalter, "Father of the Arizona Trail", with his horse Cinnamon

But you’ll see moonlight on the border lands,

you’ll see stars on the Mogollon.

You’ll feel the warmth of winter sun,

and be thrilled straight through to bone.

The aches and pains will fade away,

you’ll feel renewed, then whole.

You’ll never be the same again

with Arizona in your soul.

Along the Arizona Trail

a reverence and peace you’ll know.  

Through deserts, canyons and mountains.

From Utah to old Mexico.

Poetry Friday is produced by KNAU's Gillian Ferris. If you have an idea for a segment, drop her an email at