PHOENIX - Piestewa Peak is the most hiked trail in all of Phoenix. Roughly 6,000 people hit the trail every week.
For at least the next six months their journey will start down the road, as the two main parking lots near Summit and Navajo trailheads are closed for a major construction project.
For many Arizonans, hiking is their hobby.
“It’s a sanctuary,” said Cynthia Pereda. “It really clears my mind.”
The peace and quiet on Piestewa now sounds like a work zone of beeping backhoes and crumbling asphalt.
“It’s unfortunate that they are doing it during the peak season when it is starting to cool down. Maybe they should’ve started during the summertime,” said Daphne Schreiber, who hikes Piestewa weekly.
On Monday a more than 11 million dollar Phoenix Parks project began around Piestewa. Phase one address the lots near the most popular trailhead.
“It’s already hard enough to find parking but now people are going to have to park down the hill, which is kind of a pain,” said Schreiber.
The parks department is asking the public for patience and cooperation.
“When it’s all over, [there will be] new bathrooms, additional parking spaces, better access,” said Ranger Manny Federico.
The City of Phoenix is encouraging hikers to try new spots, and some of the other 200 miles of trails in the area during the project.
“We have about 41,000 acres here in the city of Phoenix to hike.”
For hardcore hikers though, a further walk from the parking lot will not discourage them.
“I’m still going to come, they’re not going to force me to not hike this mountain,” said Schreiber.
“It’s Arizona in the fall. No one gets discouraged from hiking,” said Jason Hutchison.
Trail users are encouraged to access Piestewa Peak trails from Dreamy Draw Park and the 32nd Street Trailhead. Trail users also might consider exploring other city trailhead locations during this phase of improvements. While all trails at Piestewa Peak Trailhead remain open, electricity and cold drinking water may not be available for periods of time during this project.
If you click on the “Access and Adaptive Management Plan” link in the gray construction message box, on pages 7-8 of the PDF you will see photos that show the existing configuration of those two lots and drawings of the improvements for the Summit and Navajo parking areas.
Hiking in Arizona is also becoming popular. Based on trail counter data, city of Phoenix hiking trails had 3,457,707 visitors in 2017, which was an increase of 577,666 from 2016.