​​​​​Little Canyon Trail​



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ARTIST:  Laurie Lundquist
LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT:  Michael Tarek, The Sherman Group     
DATE:  2010
LOCATION:  31st Avenue between Camelback Road and Missouri Avenue
TYPE:  Trail connection
MATERIALS:  Landscape, hardscape
BUDGET:  $1,222,231
ZIP CODE:  85017

​For much of its recent history, the portion of lateral 14.4 stretching south along the unpaved 31st Avenue alignment from Missouri Avenue to Camelback Road exemplified the unmet public potential of the Valley’s historic canal corridors. Hemmed in by graffiti-marred block walls, the open ditch and dirt trail answered the utilitarian call of providing maintenance access to the lateral, nothing more. The recently completed Little Canyon Trail Public Art Project has changed that, transforming the unsightly ½-mile corridor into a model for how even the smallest canal segments can become beautiful public spaces and safe multi-modal routes. Designed through a collaboration of artist Laurie Lundquist and landscape architect Michael Tarek of the Sherman Group, the enhanced trail closed an existing gap in the Phoenix’s on-street bicycle trail network and created new canal-side destinations for the surrounding west Phoenix community. The new seating areas, fencing, entry portals, durable path and shade trees have turned the desolate, fragmented corridor into a new source of beauty and community pride. The story is in the design details. The corridor’s formerly exposed terrain now boasts nearly 100 shade trees, a 10-foot-wide path with a sinuous pavement pattern, high-efficiency pedestrian-level LED lighting, ADA ramps, a fence that traces a wavy line – like the flow of water – through the corridor, a landscaped roundabout the Colter Street cul-de-sac, and round, steel entry portals embellished with cotton-blossom patterns, in recognition of the farms that once defined the area.  These enhancements balance the corridor’s need to assure ongoing maintenance of the irrigation lateral with providing safe passage for bicyclists connecting to the on-street bicycle trails south of Camelback Road and north of Missouri Avenue. They also expand the trail’s function to provide shaded seating and gathering spots for people wanting to sit and view the canal. This expansion of public purpose both acknowledges the history of farming that the canal made possible, and the modern urban desire to make more of the vital canal corridors that traverse our Valley communities.