DiCiccio: Hikers rejoice! Echo Canyon trail to open beginning of the year - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Opinion

DiCiccio: Hikers rejoice! Echo Canyon trail to open beginning of the year

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Posted: Monday, December 2, 2013 8:45 am | Updated: 7:58 am, Fri Jan 17, 2014.

Great news for all the hiking enthusiasts in the Valley. In January, Echo Canyon trail at Camelback Mountain will reopen and be better than ever. The trail has been revitalized to ensure long-term usage and the current parking situation enhanced to accommodate visitors.

Thank you to all the trail users who have remained so patient and found alternatives for the past year. The project hit a few delays but will be ready for action the first part of the year.

The closure of the trail was to address a few traffic concerns. While working on these issues, Phoenix took the opportunity to revitalize the trailhead for safety and convenience.

Parking had been an area of concern for years among the trails most dedicated users. A lack of sufficient space and general congestion deterred hikers from enjoying one of the most popular trails in the Valley.

Fortunately the city was able to identify a funding source for both. The Phoenix Parks and Preserve Initiative provided nearly $3 million for renovations to the trailhead and expanded parking for visitors.

The parking design chosen, with valuable public input, will nearly double parking from 68 to 132 spaces. Additional improvements include; a turnaround area near the entrance for use when the parking lot is full, a walkway from the parking lot to the trailhead, and a separate entrance for the community next door. These improvements will help with pedestrian and vehicular safety as well as the flow of traffic into and out of the park.

The final design was selected through a public process that lasted 18 months. Residents, hikers and city staff mulled over a dozen concept designs before deciding on one. The input process consisted of three community meetings, five discussions at Parks and Recreation Board meetings and an open house at Devonshire Community Center. Both citizens and staff deserve a tremendous amount of credit for working together to address all the necessary improvements the park demanded.

Special thanks to Paradise Valley who partnered with Phoenix for the construction of a roundabout on McDowell Road, making entering and exiting the park easier.

These renovations have been long overdue. It’s a project I have been focused on getting accomplished and am extremely excited about the future of our beautiful mountain. Thanks again to everyone who patiently awaited completion. I look forward to seeing my fellow hikers out there in January.

• Phoenix Councilman Sal DiCiccio represents District 6, which includes Ahwatukee Foothills. Reach him at council.district.6@phoenix.gov or (602) 262-7491.

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