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Hiking in the heat. Should the city close the trails?

Posted at 5:19 PM, Aug 07, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-07 20:56:01-04

You see them year round but you really notice them around this time. The hardcore hikers, out in the extreme heat. Unfortunately, every year hikers in the Valley are hospitalized or even die due to heat-related illnesses. But when it comes down to it, it's hike at your own risk.  

VOTE: Should hiking trails be closed duringsummerheat? Click here to vote

"We certainly know the usage numbers on our trails are less during the summer months and our highest numbers are obviously during the winter and spring," said Gregg Bach, spokesperson for Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department.

The numbers may be less at this time of year, but people are still hiking when the temperature soars to more than 100 degrees. Why doesn't the city stop them? According to Bach, the City of Phoenix manages 200 miles of trails and 41 trailheads. Closing them all because of heat isn't a feasible option. 

"The size and scope of our preserve land makes it a little challenging," said Bach. "If we were to close them and somebody was out there and needed help, rangers and fire departments would have to respond and help those people anyway."

Bach said city leaders met with local tourism representatives in 2015 to discuss closing them on occasion. Instead, they opted to launch a massive educational campaign, 'Take a hike. Do it right.' You see the signs at the trail heads. Local hotels and resorts have informational pamphlets too.

Bach said the city averages about 200 trail rescues a year. They advise people to not hike during triple digits, but because the trails are taxpayer-funded amenities, they are open 365 days a year. You can read more about the 'Take a Hike' campaign here.