PHOENIX -- People who hike Camelback Mountain's Echo Canyon trail will need to find a new path for the next several months.
The popular Echo Canyon summit trail and trailhead parking area will be closed starting Monday so construction crews can work on a major improvement project.
The construction project will last about nine months, making this the last weekend to go up the trail until the second half of the year.
The $3 million project involves several things:
- Increasing the size of the parking area from 68 to 132 spaces.
- Crews will renovate, rebuild and reroute the Summit Trail to improve footing, eliminate erosion-prone areas and increase long-term sustainability for the mountain.
- Making it safer with walkways throughout the parking area, providing a safety buffer for hikers approaching the area on foot, who in the old design had to approach on the roadway.
- Adding a roundabout at the park entrance.
- To help with traffic flow, crews will create separate entrances for the trailhead and the neighboring residential areas.
- Work will be done to add a permanent restroom.
"What this is going to do is create a trail that's going to be around for a long time," said Phoenix Park Ranger Cody Huggins.
In addition to improving the footing and alignment of the trail, the worn, wooden steps will be replaced with natural stone, according to Huggins.
The trail is expected to reopen in Fall, an amount of time that concerns some hikers who climb the route weekly.
"I'm kinda sad," said Naci Melzer who hikes the Summit Trail every Friday. "It's going to be a hard change for me, but hopefully it will be better for all of the people who visit and go hike."
"I think that the parks system, if they would do renovation more than once every 12 or 13 years on a trail, that the trail probably would remain open at the present time, and they wouldn't have to do a major renovation," said hiker Timothy Sierakowski. "I think six months is way too long. I own a construction company and I think you could do this, with the crews coming in here, in a three-month time period."
Hikers will still be able to hike Camelback on the Cholla Trail.
To keep tabs on the renovation progress, visit http://phoenix.gov.