When the weather gets nicer the danger on the mountain preserves doesn’t decrease, according to Phoenix fire officials.

“Right now is our peak time,” said Capt. Jonathan Jacobs of the Phoenix Fire Department. “It’s beautiful out. If you didn’t have something to do, why wouldn’t you want to be on the trails? But now is a time when we see an increase in some of these problems.”

Jacobs said during the summer months there are less people on the trails, but the weather makes it dangerous for anyone. During spring and fall the weather seems inviting but there are twice as many people out on the trails, many from out of town, and injuries are common. That’s why the fire department and park rangers are reminding residents about a new tool meant to help.

The city of Phoenix, in cooperation with agencies across the Valley, developed a simple trail rating guide to help people decide which trails they should or shouldn’t try.

“We need to make sure we educate people better so they have an idea of what they’re doing and what they’re getting into when they are doing it,” Jacobs said. “We want to educate the public about how to best use these facilities and do it safely.”

Jacobs said already this year mountain rescues are up. On Oct. 3 there had been 142 mountain rescues. On the same date in 2011 there had been 126. Those mountain rescues are often dangerous and tie up a lot of fire department resources.

The city is trying to get this information out to hotel concierges and tourist sites, but say the information is valuable for anyone planning on doing some hiking.

Currently, there are no signs out at trailheads with the new ratings on them. Those signs will come as funding becomes available. The most dangerous and most popular trails will receive signs first.

For now, all of the trail ratings are available online. On phoenix.gov residents can search the different locations and find details about each trail, along with maps of the area. For trail information for south mountain, visit www.phoenix.gov/recreation/rec/parks/preserves/locations/south/hiking/index.html.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7914 or ahurtado@ahwatukee.com

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