Select City of Phoenix hiking trails will be closed when the National Weather Service issues an Excessive Heat Watch, under a new pilot program approved by the Phoenix Parks and Recreation Board during a special meeting, Tuesday, July 13.
According to the department, per the City Charter, the board has the authority to implement park rules that would close or restrict access to trails, and it says that yesterday’s decision was made due to concerns for the safety of the public and first responders.
The pilot program will run from July 16 to Sept. 30, 2021, and during that time Camelback Mountain’s Echo Canyon Trail and Cholla Trail, and all trails associated with Piestewa Peak Trailhead in the Phoenix Mountains Preserve will be closed from 11am to 5pm on days when an Excessive Heat Watch is in effect. Camelback Mountain’s Cholla Trail is currently closed.
The Parks Department says that these locations were chosen for the pilot program based on the number of mountain rescues that occur there annually, as well as the difficulty rating of those trails and how that impacts the complexity of the rescues.
During times when trail access will be restricted, 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 an Excessive Heat Watch being 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 7pm, parking lot entrances are open until 9pm at those locations. Year-round at those three trailheads, parking lots open at 5am and trails are open until 11pm.
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 here.