Two of the most popular hiking trails in Phoenix have been temporarily closed to the public this week due to excessive heat warnings issued by the National Weather Service.
Camelback Mountain and Piestewa Peak, which draw thousands of outdoor enthusiasts each day, have had hiking prohibited from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, August 16 and Thursday, August 17. The City of Phoenix adopted these temporary closures in 2021 in an effort to prevent heat-related illnesses on days when temperatures climb to dangerous levels.
Excessive heat warnings are issued when the heat index is expected to reach at least 112 degrees for more than two hours. The Arizona desert can easily reach these extreme temperatures in the summer months.
While the trail closures may be disappointing to some, officials emphasize they are intended to keep hikers safe. Heat stroke and dehydration are real risks on sweltering hot days.
For those heading out on Phoenix trails as the temperatures cool later in the evenings this week, experts advise taking precautions such as watching weather forecasts, wearing proper gear, bringing plenty of water, and hiking with a partner.
The beautiful Sonoran Desert landscapes offer expansive vistas and rugged terrain to explore, but hikers should take responsibility to do it safely. Staying hydrated, keeping cool, and listening to one’s body are keys to preventing heat-related illness.
With some common sense precautions, Phoenix residents and visitors can continue to enjoy the area’s many superb hiking trails even during the hot summer months. The closures this week serve as a reminder that the desert demands respect, especially when the temperatures soar.
The Arizona Department of Health Services recommends drinking at least 2 liters of water per day when staying inside and 1-2 liters per hour when outdoors. Lightweight, light-colored clothing along with sunscreen, hats, and umbrellas are also advised.
Officials warn to avoid strenuous activity during the hottest parts of the day and to take frequent breaks in shaded areas. Checking on at-risk friends, family and neighbors is also recommended, as heat exhaustion and heat stroke can develop rapidly.