As Phoenix hiking trails close during extreme heat, other cities are seeing more hiker rescues

As the Phoenix area heats up and some days are under excessive heat warnings, that means Phoenix hiking trails are closed, but other trails around town remain open.

This is seemingly leading to more rescues.

In 2021, the city of Phoenix enacted a pilot program, which is now permanent, to close hiking trails during days of extreme heat. The rule applies to Camelback Mountain, Echo Canyon, Cholla Trail, and other trails in the Phoenix Mountain Preserve.

At a 100-degree point on Aug. 30, Jill Moore was one of a handful of hikers at Pinnacle Peak Park in north Scottsdale. "I think you have to know your body and know what this weather can do to you" she said.

Moore may know her limits in the heat, but another hiker didn’t. Scottsdale firefighters rescued him last week from Tom Thumb Trail – he was new to the Valley and underestimated the heat.

Over the weekend, Scottsdale Fire went on three more hiker rescues, all were heat-related. A hiker had a golden retriever with her, which crews say is a bad idea on hot days.

Scottsdale Fire says last year, they saw a total of 88 mountain rescues. Some speculate it’s because Phoenix has closed its trails on excessive heat, days pushing hikers elsewhere.

"We've seen a slight increase in the numbers versus the last couple years in Scottsdale. We're average right around a hundred mountain rescues alone in Scottsdale since 2020," says Scottsdale Fire Capt. Todd Cavner.

He says educating people is the key.

"We're really trying to get people to be more aware, take a common sense approach using the trails. Go early, bring plenty of water, be safe, don't take your pets," he said. "When it's a 100, 105, stay off the trails."