PHOENIX -- Hikers rejoice! One of the Valley's most popular hiking trails is back in business.
The Echo Canyon recreation area on Camelback Mountain reopened Wednesday after a year-long renovation project.
The area now has twice as much parking, a permanent bathroom, a chilled drinking fountain and a shade ramada. The lower part of the popular summit trail has been improved and rerouted to eliminate badly worn sections and make it more resistant to erosion and better able to withstand heavy foot traffic.
The $4.34 million renovation of Echo Canyon closed the McDonald entry in Jan. 2013 with an estimated Thanksgiving opening date. But that didn't happen, due to unexpected delays with the project.
"Echo Canyon hiking is back and better than ever for Valley residents and visitors who love to hike through and view our beautiful desert and mountain landscape," Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said in a press release. "Attractions like this make our city a great place to live, visit and a great example of the value of preserving heritage and nature."
Hikers say they're excited to hit the trail once again. "It looks very cool," one hiker told 3TV Wednesday. "I'm excited about it! I live right around the corner so it will be a short hop over here for me to go hiking."
"I like the challenge of it; I like the scenery," says another hiker, David. "It's convenient for me. It's on my way home from work, so maybe I'll hit it every day."
Here are some of the details of the improvement project:
- Increased the size of the parking area to 135 vehicle spaces from 68 prior to construction and added 15 bicycle racks.
- Improved pedestrian safety through the addition of walkways throughout the parking area. Previously, hikers approaching the area on foot had to use the roadway to get to the trails.
- Renovated, rerouted and rebuilt the lower section of the popular summit trail to eliminate erosion-prone areas, improve footing, revegetate eroded sections and increase long-term sustainability for the mountain.
- Added a permanent restroom, shade ramada and chilled drinking fountain at the trailhead.
- Improved traffic flow and reduced potential for backups through the creation of separate entrances for the trailhead and the neighboring residential area.
- Improved vehicle and pedestrian safety at the park entrance through the addition of a roundabout at the park entrance. The roundabout will control vehicle speeds at the park entrance, making it safer for hikers and vehicles entering the recreation area lot.
Echo Canyon opened this morning at 7am. Hope you can get out and enjoy the new renovations. http://t.co/Z2I5lWSCbd— Sal DiCiccio (@Sal_DiCiccio) January 15, 2014