Pilot program to close Phoenix hiking trails on extreme heat days now permanent

The city of Phoenix's Parks and Recreation Board voted unanimously to close hiking trails in Phoenix on days with extreme heat.

The new rule applies to Camelback Mountain, Echo Canyon, Cholla Trail as well as trails on the Phoenix Mountain Preserve.

Earlier this summer, trails on Camelback Mountain and Piestewa Peak were closed to hikers on extreme heat days as part of a pilot program to cut down on the number of rescues.

Phoenix fire crews did not have to go on a single rescue call when the pilot program was enacted. Before this, they were doing several rescues a week.

"It is just not for the safety of people hiking, but also for the safety of fire personnel," said Todd Keller with the Phoenix Fire Department.

Before this program, fire crews were heading up trails in excessive heat with full gear, putting them in harm's way and sending some of them to the hospital.

This puts a strain on their resources, and hikers who frequent these trails say the safety of the firefighters needs to be taken into account on extremely hot days.

"It is understandable, it is a strain on emergency services and it puts people at risk," said one hiker.

The pilot program was put in place until Sept. 30, and went into effect on days that were 105 degrees or hotter.

The Phoenix City Council will discuss the findings of the program on Oct. 28 so they can make a decision.

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