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'There are things that they could do': Neighbors upset over City of Phoenix's lack of enforcement regarding visitors on Cholla Trail

The battle of the Cholla Trail on Camelback Mountain between residents and the city continues.

PHOENIX — Neighbors along Camelback Mountain's Cholla Trail say the City of Phoenix isn’t policing the trail, and hikers who start up the mountain early in the morning.

Cholla Trail is supposed to be open from sunrise to sunset. But neighbors have filmed hikers making their way up the trail in the dark, with flashlights.

The trailhead used to be between some houses in a residential neighborhood. The city estimates half a million people hike it every year, and getting to the old trailhead required them to walk in traffic.

Phoenix Parks and Recreation decided to move the trailhead three years ago to Invergordon Road, where most hikers parked anyway. That project took three years and just re-opened this summer.

The new trailhead includes a locked gate and a bathroom but also directs hikers along a trail directly behind those homes. In some places, the trail is only a few dozen feet from backyards.

“If they were to police it, if they were to cite people, if they were to enforce it, if they were to get out in front of it,” homeowner David Zeff said, “There are things that they could do.”

Zeff says he’s seen the new Cholla Trail gate locked or propped open. Hikers are talking, even shouting as early as 5 a.m. right outside his home.

Other homeowners have taken video of hikers making their way up the trail flashing headlamps while it’s still dark.

“You hear people walking on the sand, you hear the light talking,” Zeff said.

The City of Phoenix says it tried to work with the neighbors to make the trail less of a pain.

Neighbors say the city didn’t do enough.

Phoenix Parks and Recreation sent a statement saying:

The Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department is aware that hikers are accessing Camelback Mountain’s Cholla Trail in a way that is not permitted before sunrise and after sunset. The department has received reports of hikers jumping the fence and propping the gate open before trail hours. Currently, we are looking into ways to modify the gate for added security and Park Rangers are constantly educating hikers about trail access and safety. 

Safety is of utmost importance to the Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department. We recognize the popularity of Cholla Trail and ask hikers to enjoy this beautiful amenity safely by following posted rules and trail hours.

RELATED: Camelback's Cholla Trail reopens after two years. But not everyone is happy

RELATED: 'There's obviously some security issues': Neighbors of Camelback Mountain upset about new Cholla Trailhead plans

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