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Popular Echo Canyon trail in Phoenix reopens

After a yearlong hiatus, the Echo Canyon trailhead on Camelback Mountain reopened at sunrise Wednesday.

The popular trail had been closed since last January for a $4.34 million renovation project.

Returning hikers will see a slightly different ascent in the beginning: Gone are the worn wooden railroad ties that used to mark steep steps in the first quarter-mile.

The beginning of the trail has been rerouted to follow the mountain’s natural ascent, becoming a slightly longer and more gradual climb.

“The old trail was designed mostly for functionality,” said Phoenix Councilman Sal DiCiccio, an avid hiker whose district includes the park. “This is designed for view.”

Everything after the “saddle” portion of the Echo Canyon trail is the same, but new signs make it clearer that the mountain remains a difficult hike.

Hiking the entire trail to the top of Camelback Mountain is a greater climb than ascending all 103 floors of the Empire State Building, one sign warns.

Occasional sign posts with coordinates and elevation maps now indicate exactly where on the trail a hiker is located — and how much more is left. Hikers can scan QR codes on the posts for more trail information.

Parks officials say they expect large crowds on opening weekend and anticipate 75,000 to 100,000 hikers to visit Echo Canyon in the first month.

“We could have built a parking lot the size of Christown (Spectrum Mall) and on a day like (opening day), we’d still be turning away people,” said Roger Peck, chairman of the parks and recreation board.

For the first six months after reopening, the city will not allow dogs on the Echo Canyon trail. Dogs are still permitted on Camelback Mountain’s Cholla trail.

Phoenix and Paradise Valley officials said the project was the result of the two municipalities working together. An added traffic roundabout now creates a separate entrance to the park from the adjacent neighborhood.

There are also new restrooms, a new ramada, a chilled water fountain, 17 additional bike racks and expanded car parking, from 68 to 135 spaces.

Source: AZCentral

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