Echo Canyon Recreation Area at Camelback Mountain Reopens with Parking Problems
Images: Ray Stern Hikers enjoying Echo Canyon Trail on January 15, the day it opened after a yearlong closure.
Echo Canyon Recreation Area at Camelback Mountain re-opened Wednesday morning after a yearlong closure, and excited hikers jammed the renovated parking lot.
One of the main features of the redeveloped trailhead and staging area was the expansion of the lot from 66 to 135 spaces. But rangers were turning away vehicles because the lot was too full at various times of the day.
Even larger crowds are expected on Saturday, the first weekend day after the reopening.
See also: Echo Canyon Trail at Camelback Mountain to be Slightly Longer, Less Steep; Trail Closed January 28 Until Fall
-Camelback Mountain Combines Beauty, History, and Adventure in One Fragile Phoenix Park
Several times before noon, rangers were forced to put out "Lot Closed" signs and turn away vehicles. Those folks could drive back in a little while -- the lot occasionally would reopen as people finished with their hikes exited -- or find the nearest street parking more than a mile away.
Cholla Trail, the summit trail on the mountain's east side, remains open with parking on Invergordon/64th Street.
Rangers say a couple of visitors Wednesday were perturbed over the ban on dogs at Echo Canyon, which the city says will last only for six months.
Ranger R. Delgado says he was "verbally accosted" by two people before noon on Wednesday who were ticked at the dog policy. One guy drove up in a Chevy pickup with this dogs and started "dropping F-bombs" as he protested the ban. He squealed his tires as he tore off, Delgado says.
The second dog-lover pulled up in a compact car with her animal and was turned around. As she drove off, the woman yelled obscenities at rangers as she drove away.
Most people who arrived were just happy to have their favorite trail back in action. The city estimates that Camelback Mountain sees about 700,000 summit ascents annually on Echo Canyon and Cholla trails combined.
The more-popular Echo Canyon Trail on the east side, and its trailhead area, had been closed since January 28, 2013, for a long-overdue makeover.
Besides growing the parking lot, the city's $4.3 million project included smoothing out and lengthening the first section of the trail, which had become decrepit due to erosion from years of boot-steps and rainwater. New restrooms have replaced the porta-potties, new signage informs visitors about the wonders of the mountain park and warns them of its dangers, new walkways help pedestrians get around the park without being run over, and a separate road was added for residents of the small housing complex just west of the park.
New Times took some pictures and chatted with rangers and visitors at the park during Tuesday's media preview and Wednesday's reopening.