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3 busy Phoenix hiking trails will close during heat warnings. Here’s what to know

3 busy Phoenix hiking trails will close during heat warnings. Here's what to know

If it’s “extremely hot,” don’t expect Phoenix trails to stay open.

Three popular hiking areas in the Valley will be closed on days when the National Weather Service issues an excessive heat warning, city officials announced on Monday — a day after the first 100-degree day of 2024.

Camelback Mountain’s Echo and Cholla trails and all trails associated with Piestewa Peak Trailhead in the Phoenix Mountains Preserve will close from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.​ during “extremely hot days,” according a recent update from the city.

What does ‘extreme heat’ mean?

For Arizonans, extreme heat is defined as a period of at least 2 to 3 days of high heat with temperatures above 90 degrees, according to the Arizona Emergency Information Network.

Prolonged exposure to “dangerously high” temperatures can lead to a variety of heat disorders, such as heat stroke and heat exhaustion, as cited by the city’s heat safety resource guide. Symptoms can range from dizziness to a rapid pulse depending on the ailment, the guide notes.

Additionally, a heat index tool, along with a forecast dedicated to determining heat risk in the Valley, can be referred to on the National Weather Service’s website when gauging extreme temperatures and conditions.

Program limits trail use to prevent heat-related injuries, deaths

Odon Mendoza hikes in the Phoenix Mountains Preserve near Piestewa Peak in Phoenix on July 20, 2023.

Odon Mendoza hikes in the Phoenix Mountains Preserve near Piestewa Peak in Phoenix on July 20, 2023.

Three years ago, the Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department ran a pilot program from July through September in which it closed these same trails to reduce heat-related injuries and deaths, as well as to minimize the risk of injuries to rescue personnel.

In 2023, the Parks and Recreation board voted to expand the city’s hiking limitations on days deemed dangerously hot by the National Weather Service.

During excessive heat warnings, trail access is limited, parking lot gates will be closed, and signs will be posted, the update said. Closure information will be posted on the Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department’s website and social media accounts, as well as to local resorts and hotels.

Additionally, Phoenix park rangers will be stationed at those locations to “remind and educate trail users about the restrictions,” the city notice said.

To reinforce expected trail closures due to extremely hot days, 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, according to the update.

To provide an extra two hours of availability and to promote hiking after 7 p.m., parking lot entrances are open from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. at those locations, with trails open until 11 p.m.

All other trails within the Phoenix parks system will remain open, the city update confirmed.

During the Valley’s warm weather months, regardless of whether an excessive heat watch is 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, the city recommends.

Trail enthusiasts can sign up for hiking and heat updates through the city’s website for email notifications regarding trail closures.

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Phoenix closing 3 popular hiking trails during excessive heat warnings

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