Shuttle aims to cut down on congestion and frustration at Camelback mountain

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PHOENIX--Even in triple-digit temperatures, throngs of hikers flock to Echo Canyon trail on Camelback mountain for exercise and some of the best views in the Valley. But when it comes to parking, options are few and far between.

Lack of parking near the trailhead, which sits near 44th Street and McDonald Road in Paradise Valley, has been the subject of contentious debate for months at a serious of public meetings.

Residents who live near the trail have complained about heavy traffic congestion, while hikers say they have a right for parking near a public park.

"It's frustrating because you wake up early and want to start the day with a hike and then you have to either wait in line for a parking spot, or park somewhere far and hike a mile or two to get here," said regular hiker Ashley Dutchak.

Now there's an option for those who don't want to wait, or have to hike from their cars just to get to the trailhead.

A group of regular hikers have started the "Park N' Hike" shuttle. The shuttle picks up drivers at the Paradise Valley Town Hall on Lincoln Drive and takes them about two and a half miles away to the Echo Canyon trailhead.

"It's a quick and easy service, they don't have to wait," said co-founder Keith Perrin.

The shuttle runs every ten minutes on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays beginning at sunrise. The charge is $3 per person, which organizers say goes to cover operating expenses.

Shannon Barbato gave the shuttle a try on Saturday morning.

"We got over here really quick, it was perfect," said Barbato.

Others say they'd prefer to park farther away and walk to the trail to avoid paying for a ride.

Park Ranger Glenn Ackley of the Phoenix Department of Parks and Recreation said the shuttle offers a viable solution to cutting down on the number of drivers who sit waiting for spots, and block access to roads in the process.

"I think any solution at this point is a help. The shuttle is at least giving people an option," Ackley said.

For more information on the shuttle, visit their website.