The Phoenix Parks and Recreation Board has voted to formally adopt a program limiting hiking on some trails during extreme heat.
The vote during today’s Board meeting follows a 2 ½ -month pilot program from July 13 to September 30, where the City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department, in coordination with the Phoenix Fire Department, closed Camelback Mountain’s Echo Canyon and Cholla Trails, and all trails associated with Piestewa Peak Trailhead in the Phoenix Mountains Preserve from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on days when the National Weather Service (NWS) issued an Excessive Heat Warning.
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Under the policy, hiking will be limited on those same trails, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on days the NWS issues an Excessive Heat Warning. The Board has authority to implement park rules such as these with the intent to promote safety for both the hiking public and first responders. The Phoenix Parks and Recreation Board plans to monitor rescue data as part of annual evaluations.
During times that trail access is limited, parking lot gates will be closed and signage will be posted. Closure information also will be communicated through the Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department’s website and social media accounts, and to local resorts and hotels. Additionally, Phoenix Park Rangers will be visible at those locations to remind and educate trail users about the restrictions.
During the Valley’s warm weather months, and regardless of whether an Excessive Heat Watch is in effect, it is recommended that trail users hike during the early morning or evening hours when it is cooler and there is more shade.
To help with that recommendation, extended summer hours are in effect annually from June through September at North Mountain Park and Piestewa Peak Trailhead in the Phoenix Mountains Preserve, and Pima Canyon Trailhead in South Mountain Park/Preserve. To provide an extra two hours of availability and promote hiking after 7 p.m., parking lot entrances are open until 9 p.m. at those locations. Year-round at those three trailheads, parking lots open at 5 a.m., and trails are open until 11 p.m.
The Phoenix Parks and Recreation, and Fire departments have worked in partnership since 2015 to share the “Take a Hike. Do it Right.” hiking safety message and continue to lead with education about responsible hiking. All trail users should follow these important and potentially life-saving hiking guidelines:
Watch the Weather: Yes, “it’s a dry heat” – but Arizona’s temperature can be deceiving and deadly. Hike when it’s cool outside, try early mornings and evenings when there’s more shade.
Dress Appropriately: Wear proper shoes, clothing, hat, and sunscreen.
Bring Water: Hydrate before you go. Have plenty of water, more than you think you need. Turn around and head back to the trailhead before you drink half of your water.
Keep in Contact: Carry a mobile phone.
Team Up: Hike with others. If hiking solo, tell someone your start and end times, and location.
Be Honest: Do you have a medical condition? Asthma, heart problems, diabetes, knee or back problems? Don’t push yourself! (Even trained athletes have been caught off guard by getting dehydrated on Arizona trails.)
Don’t Trailblaze: Enjoy the Sonoran Desert’s beautiful and undeveloped landscape, but please stay on designated trails.
Take Responsibility: Don’t be “that person” – the one who wasn’t prepared, shouldn’t have been there for health reasons, or ignored safety guidelines. Be the responsible hiker, who takes a hike and does it right!
For the safety of pets, dogs are prohibited on any City of Phoenix trail when the temperature is 100 degrees or warmer. The Arizona Humane Society advises that temperatures in the 90s are also unsafe for pets to be outdoors. Learn how to keep pets safe during Arizona’s warm weather months.