The heat is on and official want you to be protected! This summer, three popular City of Phoenix hiking trails will close during extremely hot days.
On days when the National Weather Service issues an Excessive Heat Warning, Camelback Mountain’s Echo and Cholla Trails and all trails associated with Piestewa Peak Trailhead in the Phoenix Mountains Preserve will close from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
During Excessive Heat Warnings, trail access is limited, parking lot gates will be closed, and signage will be posted. Closure information will be posted on 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.
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. All other trails within the Phoenix parks system will remain open.
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.
Looking for an open trail? There are more than 200 miles of open trails within the City of Phoenix. Visit Phoenix.gov/trails to plan your next hike.
In summer 2021, the Parks and Recreation Department ran a 2 ½ month pilot program from July 13 to September 30 in which they closed these same trails to reduce heat-related injuries and deaths and reduce the risk of injuries to rescue personnel.
In October of 2021, the Parks and Recreation Board formally adopted the program limiting hiking on some trails from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on National Weather Service issued Heat Warning days.
The first full season of the Trails and Heat Safety Program ran from May 1, 2022, through Sept. 30, 2022, for a duration of 153 days. There were 18 National Weather Service (NWS) issued Heat Warning Days and, therefore, 18 resulting trail closure days in 2022.
TAKE A HIKE, DO IT RIGHT
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:
- 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.