Press Release

The New Mexico and Arizona Railroad was built in 1882 from Benson, through Fairbanks, Huachuca City, Elgin Sonoita, Patagonia, Calabasas and Nogales where the track connected to another rail to the port in Guaymas, Mexico. The railway was abandoned in 1963 and tracks removed.

In 2006 a group in Patagonia organized the Mountain Empire Trail Association (META) to use the old railway as a trail. The ultimate [goal] was to have a trail the length of the old railroad from Benson to Nogales. Regrettably, most of the railroad right of way has been converted to private property, making it difficult to use the original railway.

Currently the TTT runs from the town of Patagonia to Casa Blanca Canyon, about five miles NE of town near SR-82. The TTT connects to the Arizona Trail Casa Blanca Trailhead, as well as four miles of trail in the Borderlands Restoration Network Wildlife Preserve. In Patagonia the trail connects Doc Mock Park, Tucson Audubon Paton’s Hummingbird Center and the Nature Conservancy Sonoita Creek Preserve. (For more on META, see “Group Working to Build Patagonia-Sonoita Trail” by Sarah Klingenstein [PRT, Dec. 2022]—Ed.)

In 2022, a fiber optic cable was installed in the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) right of way of SR-82, clearing a path for equipment most of the way between Patagonia and Sonoita.

META is partnering with Friends of Sonoita Creek and the Cienega Watershed Partnership to petition ADOT to permit the extension of the TTT from Casa Blanca Canyon to Sonoita utilizing the cable optic track. The trail will be for non-motorized recreation, hiking, bicycling and equestrian use.

This portion of the trail is to be dedicated to Tom Meixner, former professor and head of the University of Arizona Hydrological and Atmospheric Sciences and director of the Cienega Watershed Partnership.

Please submit your letter of support NOW to:

Mountain Empire Trail Association
c/o P. O. Box 919
Patagonia, AZ 85624

Or email