Residents urge Phoenix to address hiking on deadly Echo Canyon Trail

Following a number of deaths in recent years and dozens of rescues, residents of Paradise Valley, Arizona are concerned with hiker safety on the Echo Canyon Trail because of a lack of signage marking the trail and warning of its difficulty.

One of those residents, Ryan Wooddy, can’t help but notice when rental cars are parked at the Echo Canyon trailhead near his Paradise Valley home — which he says is often. Driving through the lot on a recent day, he makes a mental tally of the out-of-state license plates: California (check). Nevada (check). Washington (check).

The rental cars at Echo Canyon are emblematic of what Wooddy says is an intractable problem here: novice hikers taking on the extremely challenging trail. Many of those visitors come unprepared and struggle during the Camelback Mountain hike, especially in Arizona’s hot summer months. More than a few become stranded. Wooddy and others who live near the trail say more needs to be done. They propose adding signs marking trails or passing legislation that would penalize reckless hikers, similar to the state’s Stupid Motorist Law.

Echo Canyon Trail saw 154 rescues from 2010 to 2013, more than any other trail in Phoenix. Some attribute the figure to the trail’s heavy traffic as well as its difficulty, which increases the risk of heatstroke and injury.

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