Camelback Mountain's Echo Canyon trail to open Jan. 15


by 3TV

Video from Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department

Posted on January 8, 2014 at 4:51 PM

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PHOENIX -- The Echo Canyon trail on Camelback Mountain will reopen to the public at sunrise on Jan. 15, according to a spokesman for the Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department.

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.

The renovation comes with 67 additional parking spaces, two drinking fountains, and a more sustainable trail entry with better footing for hikers.

"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," 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."

Over the past year, crews have expanded the parking lot, almost doubling its size from 68 to 135 spaces. 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. Other changes will increase vehicle and hiker safety and ease traffic congestion.

"The city invested over $4 million on improvements and renovations for the park," Councilman Sal DiCiccio said in statement. "These renovations were critical for the preservation of Camelback Mountain.  We've pushed this for a very long time and it's great we were able to get it done."

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.

For the first six months after Echo Canyon reopens on Jan. 15, the Echo Canyon area, including the summit trail, will be "hiker only." Given the pent-up demand and extremely large crowds expected after reopening on Echo Canyon’s tight, strenuous trails, reserving them for hikers only will ensure the safety of users.

Though they’re not allowed on Echo Canyon trails for the first six months after reopening, Camelback’s Cholla Trail will remain open to dogs. Hikers also will still be able to hike with their dogs on all other City of Phoenix trails designated for pets and multiple uses, totaling more than 175 miles.

The summit trail on Piestewa Peak is the only other Phoenix trail on which dogs are not permitted.

Approximately 700,000 hikers use Camelback’s two summit trails each year. As was the practice prior to start of construction, vehicle queuing prior to sunrise opening or during the day will not be permitted. When the park reopens, rangers will open the entry gates at one-half hour prior to official sunrise.

The trail and parking area expansion and improvements and roadway roundabout cost $4.34 million to date, funded through the Phoenix Parks and Preserve Initiative. This total cost will be offset by reimbursements by the Town of Paradise Valley, which is contributing $450,000 towards costs of constructing the roundabout at the park entrance on McDonald Drive, of which $150,000 already has been contributed.