Hosting 6,000 visitors on a weekly basis, the most hiked trail in Phoenix will experience some changes in the coming months.
Piestewa Peak’s main parking lots have a six-month construction project underway. The two main parking lots near Summit and Navajo trailheads will be closed for the major project.
“It’s a sanctuary,” Cynthia Pereda said about hiking. “It really clears my mind.”
Sounds of a construction work zone have taken over the traditional Piestewa sounds of peace and quiet. Patience and cooperation are being asked of the public during the project.
“It’s unfortunate that they are doing it during the peak season when it is starting to cool down. Maybe they should’ve started during the summertime,” said Daphne Schreiber, who hikes Piestewa weekly.
The first phase of an $11-million Phoenix Parks project began Monday and is tending to the most popular trailhead parking lots.
“It’s already hard enough to find parking but now people are going to have to park down the hill, which is kind of a pain,” said Schreiber.
“When it’s all over, [there will be] new bathrooms, additional parking spaces, better access,” said Ranger Manny Federico.
In the meantime, the City of Phoenix is suggesting that during the project hikers visit other areas of the 200-miles worth of trails.
“We have about 41,000 acres here in the city of Phoenix to hike,” said Federico.
Fortunately for the parks department, a longer walk from the parking lot to the trail will not be enough to keep avid hikers from visiting.
“I’m still going to come, they’re not going to force me to not hike this mountain,” said Schreiber.
“It’s Arizona in the fall. No one gets discouraged from hiking,” said Jason Hutchison.
First-time Piestewa Peak visitors are being asked to enter the trails from Dreamy Draw Park and the 32nd Street Trailhead. City trailhead locations are also potential options for hikers while the construction is in progress. Even though none of the Piestewa trails will be closed over the next six months, electricity and cold drinking water may periodically be unavailable.
For additional information about the project, visit the Piestewa Peak webpage.
If you click on the “Access and Adaptive Management Plan” link in the gray construction message box, on pages 7-8 of the PDF you will see photos that show the existing configuration of those two lots and drawings of the improvements for the Summit and Navajo parking areas.
The interest in hiking throughout Arizona continues to grow as trail counter data found that a total of 3,457,707 people visited the city of Phoenix trails in 2017. The total was a 577,666 visitor increase from 2016.