PHOENIX — Several times every summer hikers are rescued off of the Valley’s hiking trails after becoming injured or overheated.
Often those rescues could have been prevented.
“There's so many people, no water at all, they have like flip flops on,” Mike Faustich, park manager for the City of Phoenix, said of some hikers that show up to hike one of the hardest trails in the city: Echo Canyon on Camelback Mountain.
Even Thursday, frequent Camelback Mountain hiker Kevin Gordon came across one woman who wasn’t prepared.
“She just said that she underestimated that and she’s coming back down, and I encouraged her,” Gordon said. “She didn’t have water. I said, ‘How’s the saying go? You know, live to hike another day.’”
Start early, be prepared
To hike in the summer, Faustich recommends people start early.
“As soon as the sun rises, that’s when you want to be out in the summer,” Faustich said.
He also recommends hikers show up prepared to hike in the desert, saying the biggest mistake he sees is people not bringing enough water.
“Be prepared with plenty of water, wear sunscreen, wear a hat, wear proper clothing, proper shoes, hike with a buddy, have a cell phone just in case,” Faustich said.
The City of Phoenix does have recommendations online for hikers to help them hike safer in the heat.
Faustich adds too, hikers should turn around when they’re halfway out of water.
“Once your water is half gone, you turn back because you're going to need just as much water coming back as you did on the way,” Faustich said.
Trails to close in excessive heat
As Faustich notes, it’s often those who are not used to Arizona’s heat that is getting rescued off of the trails.
“We’re really concerned about the ones that are from out of town or tourists that don't know what they're doing. That's the ones that get rescued,” Faustich said.
Dogs aren’t allowed on any Phoenix trails when the temperature is 100 degrees or higher. They also aren’t allowed on Camelback’s Echo Canyon and Cholla Trails and the Piestewa Peak Summit Trail year-round.
Just like in recent summers, this year when an excessive heat warning is issued, Camelback Mountain’s Echo and Cholla trails as well as trails connected to Piestewa Peak Trailhead and the Phoenix Mountain Preserve will close.
Other trail options
One question Faustich does hear often is what other places there are to hike that are easier and less busy, recommending people asses before they start a hike whether it’s going to be too difficult for them.
“Don’t do things beyond your ability, just kind of know your own fitness level and know what you can handle. Don’t try and push yourself too far,” Faustich said.
To help find a trail within your ability, there is a list of City of Phoenix trails that include descriptions and information.