Hazard warnings for Phoenix-area hiking trails

Camelback Mountain is about to come with a warning label. Those hoping for a casual climb up the mountain’s Echo Canyon Trail may think twice after spotting a sign that designates it as “difficult,” with long rocky segments and steep drops.

The labeling of the trail is part of an effort spearheaded by Phoenix to keep hikers safe and sharply reduce the number of mountain rescues each year.

Valley public-safety and parks officials are creating a trail guide to rate the dozens of mountain trails across Maricopa County according to six designations: from easiest (relatively flat and paved) to extremely difficult (steep grades greater than 15 percent).

The new trail system aims at making it easier for hikers to choose trails suited to their fitness and ability. It’s expected to be a cautionary reminder for local and visiting hikers alike.

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