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Some Phoenix hiking trails close for first time due to extreme heat

Echo Canyon, Hiking, heat, hiking ban, hike
Posted at 10:45 PM, Aug 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-04 07:31:17-04

PHOENIX — Some of the Valley's most popular and dangerous trails shut down for a few hours Tuesday due to excessive heat. This is a first under a new pilot program put into place in mid-July.

“I've been doing it for 22 or 23 years, at least once a week,” says one avid hiker.

Not everyone believes the program is necessary.

“I'm not a fan of it because I've been doing it for a long time. I think that it is good for general people but I think that's kind of what these guys are here to do, the rangers that are here, to prevent people who haven't done it before from going up,” said another hiker.

The Phoenix Parks and Recreation Board voted to close Piestewa Peak and Camelback Mountain from 11 a.m to 5 p.m. whenever the National Weather Service issues an Excessive Heat Warning. The goal is to reduce the number of rescues on those days.

“At least five that I've seen myself. I had a quick chat with one of the firefighters on the way down and he goes, ‘this is our second time up here today.’ I was like ‘oh, yeah definitely guys let's set up these rules, let's close them down,’” said another hiker.

The city said they had no issues with hikers disregarding the rules at either of the trailheads on Tuesday. Instead, many we’re just waiting until 5 p.m. to show up.

“As long as you're out here and well prepared… I think if you know what you're doing, then you're good out here,” said another hiker.

Although hiking in the heat is already tough enough, some are taking on even more of a challenge like hiking barefoot.

“I wanted to change it up a little bit about six months ago,” said a barefoot hiker.

Trailheads at Camelback Mountain and Piestewa Peak will be closed again on Wednesday from 11 a.m to 5 p.m.

The Parks and Recreation Board will be meeting in October to discuss whether to continue with the pilot program or modify it.