PHOENIX - Dust off the hiking shoes, Camelback Mountain's popular (and challenging) trail has reopened.
The trail has been closed for about the last year to conduct nearly $4 million in renovations to the recreation area, the parking lot and to preserve the longevity of the trail, said David Urbinato with the City's parks and recreation department.
"Echo Canyon hiking is back and better than ever for Valley residents and visitors who love to hike through and view our beautiful desert and mountain landscape," said Mayor Greg Stanton in a prepared statement.
Upgrade at a glance:
Increase parking spaces to 135, from 68 Installed 15 bike racks
Added a permanent restroom, shade ramada and a chilled drinking fountain
Renovated, rerouted, rebuilt the lower section of the trail
Added entrances, roundabout to help with traffic flow
Limited to hikers only (no dogs) for first six months.
One of the biggest headaches with the hiking area was the congestion of traffic from both outdoor enthusiasts, as well as residents of the local neighborhood. Officials believe these renovations will help alleviate those issues.
Officials estimate that 700,000 people trek up Camelback's two trails each year, according to a press release.
Seventy spaces were added to the parking lot bringing the total number of spaces to 135, said Urbinato. The renovations also included the addition of 15 bicycle racks.
Officials also added walkways throughout the parking area to help with pedestrian safety. Before hikers would have to walk across the parking lot.
A designated entrance to the trailhead was created to help reduce backups into the nearby neighborhoods. A roundabout was also added at the entrance of the trail to help control motorists' speed, said Urbinato.
A restroom was installed, as well as a shade ramada and a chilled drinking fountain near the trail head, said Urbinato. This will be a great way to fill up the water bottle before or after hiking during the hot Arizona summers.
Crews also rebuilt the trail's initial summit to improve footing, eliminate areas prone to erosion, as well as reinforced the trail to prevent future erosion or damage.
The trail will be limited to "hikers only" for the first six months. This means pets, including dogs, will not be allowed on the trail during that time, said Urbinato. Piestewa Peak is the only other Phoenix trail that doesn't allow dogs.
To date, the cost of the renovations is $4.34 million, which was funded through the Phoenix Parks and Preserve initiative said Urbinato. The City also expects a $450,000 reimbursement from the town of Paradise Valley. Those funds helped support the roundabout at the entrance of the park, he said.