During Arizona’s hot summer months hiking is still possible, but experts agree that early morning is the time to be on the trails.
“At night the sun has baked on the asphalt all day long and as the sun goes down the asphalt releases that heat,” said Elizabeth Smith, park ranger at South Mountain Park. “Even though the sun is down and you may not have direct sun on you, it’s still hot out. In the morning it’s 80 degrees. I would suggest looking at what the temperature is throughout the day before you make your plans.”

Those who are looking to do some hiking should be advised to bring all the right equipment, Smith said. Water is a must for any time of year, but Smith recommends 32 ounces for every hour of planned hiking during the summer.

If you’re hiking while the sun is down bring a head lamp. In the sun it’s important to bring a hat and wear lose, comfortable clothing, Smith said.
For those who want to bring their dogs hiking, Smith said to plan on extra water and be aware of your pet.

“The saddest thing as a ranger is helping someone get their pet back to their car,” Smith said. “Generally, they don’t make it. Your dog will follow you to the very end. They don’t sweat the same way we do so a lot of times pet owners are not aware that their dog has hit their limit.”

Dogs may need 18 ounces of water, per hour, Smith said and if the pavement is too hot for your bare feet it will be too hot for the dog, too.
If your dog is panting heavily, acting sluggish, not responding to commands, trembling, whining or collapsing, they need help. She recommends leaving dogs at home during the hot months as a general rule.
Find shade, continue to sip water, and call 911 if you run into trouble on the trails, Smith said. Her tip, no matter what time of year, to all hikers is to plan ahead and make someone aware of your plans. Above all, stay on the trails.
For more tips on hiking safety, visit phoenix.gov/fire/safety/outdoor/hiking.

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

(1) comment


Everyone knows Arizona is hot. The challenge to hikers isn't the heat, but the need to never leave a sidewalk unless you're prepared and know what you're doing. Too many people, badly out of shape and inappropriately dressed, can be seen on hiking trails in the city. Sometimes, horrifically, they're supervising children on those trails as well.

When hiking in the desert, wear boots (cacti and rattlesnakes), bring several quarts of water (more if you have children along), never put your hand somewhere where you can't see it such as under a rock or in a hole (scorpians, snakes), wear a hat, sun screen, sun glasses and stay on trail (unless very experienced).

Kids should be carefully supervised and instructed on the above before starting. They should be in sight and on trail at all times. Make sure they (and you) keep drinking; thirst is not a symptom of dehydration and/or heat exhaustion. If someone appears to lose good coordination, looks very sweaty and pale and maybe nauseous, stop the hike right there, put the person in shade and rest and have them slowly hydrate; they have heat exhaustion. Take a long break so they can recover and see if they can still hike then.

One more thing; the vast majority of people in the desert will see and hear rattlesnakes over the years but never be bitten. The most dangerous superstition is that they will attack without provocation. The fact is, they only bite if you're intentionally provoking them; exceptions to this are so rare they're not worth mentioning.

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