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Burns & Gambo

Popular Phoenix hiking trail closes for 6 months

A sign at the Echo Trail trailhead informs hikers the trail will be closed for six months. (Jim Cross/KTAR)

PHOENIX -- One of the Valley's hiking hotspots will close at 5 a.m. Monday and it's not going to reopen for at least six months because of a major makeover project.

The project includes new bathrooms being built at Echo Canyon on Camelback Mountain, but the signature improvements are trail renovation and extending the Echo Canyon route by a third of a mile from 1.2 miles to 1.5 miles and parking will be doubled to more than 130 spaces.

Phoenix Park Ranger Cody Huggins said this project is long overdue.

"These last few years have been brutal," he said. "If you're in town this is the place to be. It's in the heart of the city and it's beautiful."

Parking has been a major challenge not only for visitors, but residents in the area as well who've dealt with the crowded area.

The shutdown comes at the height of the hiking season with cooler temperatures in the Valley. Huggins said the cooler temperatures are exactly why the shutdown comes now: To protect workers from the brutal heat of the summer.

"These workers will be out on the trail and this is just best time to do it."

People who are caught in Echo Canyon could be arrested for trespassing. The summit of Camelback can still be reached via the Cholla Trail on the southeastern side of the mountain.

Frequent hikers, like Colleen Alanthwaite, said they will miss Echo Canyon, but look forward to the improvements. She will be hiking Piestewa Peak until the makeover is complete.

"It's nice, it's just not the same feeling of achievement that comes from hiking Echo Canyon. No matter how many times we do it, it's still tough."

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