PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) − Now that the weather is nice again in the Valley, more and more people are getting outside. But don’t let the daylight limit you. There’s plenty to do after dark in the great outdoors as well.
The trail up Piestewa Peak is a popular destination during the day, but at night the 1.2 mile summit trail lights up as headlights march their way to the top.
“We like to say Piestewa Peak sort of looks like a Christmas tree, with so many people with lamps, lights headlamps and phone lights on the mountain,” said City of Phoenix Park Ranger Trevor Plautz.
Ranger Plautz says that on any given night, upwards of 500 hikers tackle the mountain after hours. The entrance gate closes at 7 p.m., but once you’re inside, you’re allowed to stay until 11 p.m.
If you decide to take a moonlight hike, make sure you take a fully-charged cell phone and plenty of water.
“Once you are halfway done with your water, you are halfway done with your hike,” says Plautz. He says it’s also important to have a good headlamp to light your way and to hike with a buddy — never alone.
On the other side of the Valley, you’ll find kayakers getting ready to set sail by the light of the moon. The full moon brings a fun crowd to the Salt River, decked out in glow sticks and headlamps. They navigate the river’s turns and rapids by the glow of the night sky and watch for wildlife. Every once in a while, they get a special visit from the area’s Salt River Wild Horses.
Wildlife is very active in the desert at night, and that’s just perfect for the hikes put on by the Maricopa County Parks Department. The scorpion hike is one of their most popular activities. The ranger-led hikes are full of squeals from delighted kids and families discovering scorpions while hiking through the dark desert with blacklights.
On our hike one moonlit Saturday night, we spotted 55 scorpions and one rattlesnake!
For more information on these hikes, check out maricopacountyparks.net/events/.