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Popular Phoenix hiking trail closes for 6 months

A sign at the Echo Trail trailhead informs hikers the trail will be closed for six months. (Jim Cross/KTAR)

PHOENIX -- One of the Valley's hiking hotspots will close at 5 a.m. Monday and it's not going to reopen for at least six months because of a major makeover project.

The project includes new bathrooms being built at Echo Canyon on Camelback Mountain, but the signature improvements are trail renovation and extending the Echo Canyon route by a third of a mile from 1.2 miles to 1.5 miles and parking will be doubled to more than 130 spaces.

Phoenix Park Ranger Cody Huggins said this project is long overdue.

"These last few years have been brutal," he said. "If you're in town this is the place to be. It's in the heart of the city and it's beautiful."

Parking has been a major challenge not only for visitors, but residents in the area as well who've dealt with the crowded area.

The shutdown comes at the height of the hiking season with cooler temperatures in the Valley. Huggins said the cooler temperatures are exactly why the shutdown comes now: To protect workers from the brutal heat of the summer.

"These workers will be out on the trail and this is just best time to do it."

People who are caught in Echo Canyon could be arrested for trespassing. The summit of Camelback can still be reached via the Cholla Trail on the southeastern side of the mountain.

Frequent hikers, like Colleen Alanthwaite, said they will miss Echo Canyon, but look forward to the improvements. She will be hiking Piestewa Peak until the makeover is complete.

"It's nice, it's just not the same feeling of achievement that comes from hiking Echo Canyon. No matter how many times we do it, it's still tough."

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About the Author


Position: Senior News Reporter. Started with KTAR July 4, 1999.

Favorite food: Steak and shrimp, and any food on campouts.

Favorite spots in Arizona: Pinetop-Lakeside, Alpine, Greer.

Favorite news memory: The Wallow Fire in 2011 became the largest fire in state history. Rodeo-Chediski Fire in June 2002, which is the second largest fire in Arizona. The 2007 Southern California Firestorm and being at Sky Harbor Airport when the first plane lifted off several days after 9-11. Seeing the American flag on the tail of the Salt Lake City-bound Delta airliner as it took off still gives me goosebumps.

Favorite movies: True Grit, both 1969 John Wayne classic and the remake with Jeff Bridges -- which was outstanding --, Lonesome Dove.

First job: Spinning records at KLER Radio Orofino, Idaho 1980.

First concert: KISS/Cheap Trick 1977 Spokane, WA Coliseum.

Sports Teams: Washington State University Cougars, The University of Montana Grizzlies and Texas Rangers.

Outside interests: Sports, camping, fishing, traveling.

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