Around this time of year, when the daytime temperatures begin to cool off in Phoenix, residents who have been cooped up indoors in the air conditioning begin heading for the hiking trails, according to David Urbinato, Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department spokesman.

"We have reverse spring fever in Phoenix," Urbinato said. "We get it in the fall, after the summer."

The number of hikers in rustic areas like South Mountain Park, bordering Ahwatukee Foothills, will continue to climb as winter residents and visitors arrive in the coming weeks, he said. But even though the weather's getting nice, parks like South Mountain still can be hazardous.

"These are pretty much wild desert areas," Urbinato said. "You should be aware of what can go wrong."

One of the most important things to remember is to not overdo it, and to bring plenty of water, he said.

"It could still get warm this time of year. The heat may not be gone for good," he said. "If you haven't hiked in a while, be aware of your physical condition and try to hike within your means. You might want to work yourself back into shape gradually."

Staying on established trails is a good way to avoid most hazards, Urbinato said.

Steve Waters, a flood warning branch manager with the Flood Control District of Maricopa County, said that unexpected rainstorms can still be a factor, as well. Phoenix gets about two-thirds of its annual rainfall between Dec. 1 and March 31, he said.

"If you can stay on the ridges you are in better shape than if you're in the washes as far as flooding goes," Waters said. "Then you face the other demon, lightening in the high spots."

If you do encounter lightening, don't get under a tree, but try and find shelter if you can, he said.

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