Phoenix Parks and Recreation Board votes to expand trail closures on excessively hot days

Sep 4, 2023, 2:00 PM

Phoenix Parks, Recreation votes to expand trail closures 2023...

(Facebook Photo/City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department)

(Facebook Photo/City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department)

PHOENIX — Hikers who want to take on popular trails on the hottest days of the year may find the parks closed, depending on when they head out.

That’s because the Phoenix Parks and Recreation Board decided to expand the city’s heat safety trail program last week.

The Echo Canyon and Cholla Trails at Camelback Mountain and all trails on Piestewa Peak will be closed from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. whenever the National Weather Service issues an excessive heat warning.

The change is effective immediately, the city announced. From now on, hikers will have to head out in the early morning or late afternoon on excessively hot days.

Previously, the hiking ban was in place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. from May to October. The new program is in place all year round, city officials said.

Why did the city vote to expand trail closures?

Before Thursday’s vote, these limitations could only go into place between May and October. This change is intended to keep hikers safe when it’s hot — no matter what time of year it is.

“It has become clear some hikers need rescuing even when they start their hike before 11 a.m.,” Phoenix Fire Capt. Rob McDade said in a statement.

“As a result, we believe the extended closure of trails will better protect everyone involved.”

The city said parking gates to trails will shut down on excessively hot days. Signs will also go up to keep hikers away. When the park is closed, rangers will be at trails to make sure hikers don’t hurt themselves.

Hikers who want to stay in the loop can sign up for email alerts.

Arizona hiking tips: How to hike safely in the desert

In the announcement saying it would expand trail closures, the city of Phoenix shared safety tips for hikers:

  • Hike when it’s cool outside, like the early mornings and evenings when there’s more shade.
  • Wear proper clothes and shoes, bring a hat and put on sunscreen.
  • Bring more water than you think you need and head back to the trailhead before you drink half of your water.
  • Stay on the trails so you don’t get lost but bring a phone so you can call for help if you’re stranded.
  • Hike with others, or tell others when you are coming back if you go alone.
  • Don’t push yourself if you have a medical condition.

City officials also warned residents to keep their dogs at home in 100+ temperatures. Last month, a hiker was cited after taking his two dogs out on a Piestewa Peak hiking trail in Phoenix when it was about 100 degrees outside. When rescuers got to him, one of his dogs was dead.

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Phoenix Parks and Recreation Board votes to expand trail closures on excessively hot days