Safety Guide

While traversing the trails in and around Phoenix can be an awesome experience, it can also be a treacherous one.

According to the City of Phoenix, more than 200 hikers are rescued from the trails each year. Many of these hikers and runners headed out on their journeys without proper preparation. Even avid hikers and experienced trail runners who prepare properly can find themselves in situations where they need assistance. One wrong turn can lead to disastrous consequences.

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Plan Ahead

Since you are on this site, you likely are already planning your hiking or running adventure. Planning before you head out on your journey is important. Many of the tips and information below will help you with your planning.

Plan Ahead sign

In doing your research, be honest with yourself and pick a trail that is right for you and your abilities. One of the most popular hiking trails in Phoenix, Camelback Mountain, is also one of the hardest and is often the one inexperienced hikers are needing rescued from. There are a plethora of trails in and around Phoenix, so you can easily find a trail that suits your needs and abilities.

Once you find the right trail, make sure to download or print out a map if you can. Sites like AllTrails and Strava allow for downloading the maps to your phone. Sometimes, even just a screenshot of the route can save the day.

For longer hikes and runs, it might be a good idea to bring a way to communicate -- that doesn't require cellular service -- if you get lost or injured in the middle of nowhere. If you are hiking somewhere like South Mountain, your phone should do the trick and be within range of cell towers for the bulk of the time. That said, make sure your phone is fully charged and ready to last.

It is also wise to scope out parking at the trail you pick before you go. Some trails are very popular, and have limited parking spots.

Take A Hike. Do It Right.

Take A Hike. Do It Right.

The City of Phoenix put together an amazing checklist titled Take A Hike. Do It Right. to help hikers and trail runners "from becoming a statistic." A few of the important bullet points on the list are below.

  • Bring Water. It is important to hydrate before the journey, but VITAL to bring enough water (and electrolytes) to hydrate during the journey.
  • Watch the Weather. The dry heat can and will fool you, and monsoons can pop-up quick in the Summer months.
  • Dress Appropriately. This includes wearing proper shoes, clothing AND sunscreen. Hats and gaiters could also be required, depending on the trails and the amount of time on them.

Stick to the Trails

Phoenix trail at dusk

As the Grand Canyon's hiking tips remind us, "always hike on sanctioned trails or identifiable routes." While it might sound fun to wander off the beaten path and make your own route, going off-trail is one of the quickest ways to disaster. Beyond the possibility of getting lost, there is a high probability you could encounter a rattlesnake or a javelina, or you could trip and stumble down a rocky cliff.

Before you head out on your journey, make sure to study the trail maps. Apps like AllTrails and Strava have excellent maps that provide loads of details about trails. They even allow you to download the maps to your phone, which can come in handy if you get lost.

When you arrive at the trails, pay attention to the signs and maps at the trailheads. The City of Phoenix does an outstanding job of providing maps and signage at most trailheads. Use your phone to take a picture so you have the info handy, just in case.

Be Mindful When Wearing Headphones

Sometimes it is nice to get out on the trails to listen to music or your favorite podcast. If you choose to use ear buds or headphones while hiking or running, be mindful and watch your step.

Hiker wearing headphones

The most important reason to be careful while wearing headphones while traversing the trails are the noisy danger sticks, better known as rattlesnakes! Often times, you will hear a rattlesnake before you see it. If you have the volume full blast while on the trails, you might miss an important warning sign and inadvertantly step on a snake!

Another reason to use caution when wearing ear buds or headphones is so you can be aware of the other humans you are sharing the trails with. Some of the trails in the Phoenix area are quite popular for hiking, running and mountain biking. If you are rocking out to your favorite EDM set or true-crime podcast, you might not hear a hiker, runner or mountain biker approaching or attempting to pass. Keep trail etiquette in mind while enjoying the trails and tunes.

Keeping the volume low can help your cause. Some hikers and runners might also opt for only wear an ear bud in one ear, allowing them to enjoy both their music and listen to the sounds of nature.