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Stay Safe: Learn the Rules and Guidelines

Seasonal Heat Warning: We have entered the hot weather season in the Sonoran Desert. Please use extra caution if you’re planning on using trails. During hot weather months, try to wait for shade when hiking as full sun temperatures can be more than 20 degrees higher than the official shade temperature. So hike in early morning or near dusk when there’s more shade and less intense heat. Remember, even if you are hydrated you can still suffer from heat-related illness on the hottest summer days. During excessive heat warnings, consider whether it's safe to hike at all. Follow our full safety guidelines for staying safe on the trail.

Keep your Vehicle Safe and Valuables Secured:

  • Make sure you park only on paved surfaces. Parking on unpaved surfaces is illegal, generates dust and poses a fire risk.
  • Before leaving your car, make sure your valuables are stored out of sight. When possible, leave valuables such as a wallet, credit cards or purse at home. If you must bring valuables with you in your car, bring along a small pack and take them with you on your hike. At the very least, secure valuables in your vehicle's trunk before arriving at the trailhead as thieves have been reported to use binoculars to watch vehicles arriving at lots to see if owners hide or secure valuables.
  • Lock your car and take your keys with you (do not try to hide keys under a tire or car bumper).
  • Report suspicious activity to the Police Department's Crime Stop at (602) 262-6151.

Keep Yourself Safe

  • It is important to remember that the Phoenix mountain and desert preserves are open, undeveloped Sonoran Desert areas. Hikers can encounter rocky terrain, rattlesnakes, bees and other potential hazards native to this ecosystem. Bees are another natural part of the Sonoran Desert ecosystem that you may encounter; view tips on bee safety from the University of Arizona Agricultural Extension office.
  • Make sure someone knows where you'll be hiking and when you expect to return.
  • During hot weather months, try to wait for shade when hiking. Full sun temperatures can be more than 20 degrees higher than the official shade temperature. Hiking in early morning or near dusk means more shade and more manageable temperatures.
  • Try not to hike alone - it’s safer and more fun to hike with a friend.
  • Be honest about your physical limitations and abilities, especially during hot weather. Don’t do more than you are able.
  • Remember, even if you are hydrated, you can still suffer from heat-related illness. On the hottest summer days, consider whether it's safe to hike at all. If you do choose to hike, consider hiking only in the early morning or early evening when there is more shade.
  • Bring plenty of water (One quart for short hikes-more for longer hikes). Turn around when you're halfway through your water. Using a water pack is preferable as it allows you to keep your hands free while hiking.
  • Wear appropriate footwear, preferably hiking boots but at least sturdy, closed-toe shoes. Leave the sandals at home.
  • Wear light-colored, comfortable clothing.
  • Bring a hat and sunblock (SPF 15 minimum).
  • Consider bringing along a small package with basic first aid supplies.
  • Carry a cell phone.
  • What to do When You Need Help:

S.T.O.P. (Stop, Think, Observe, Plan). Your brain is your #1 survival tool.

If you are lost or injured, do not panic.

If you need help, call 9-1-1 for emergencies.

Know your location. Look for the nearest trail marker or any noticeable landmark such as a bench, wash or tree.

Identify the emergency situation (Be specific regarding the condition of an injured person).

 Learn How to Keep Your Dogs Safe on the Trail


Pets can be curious about desert animals and burrows in which they live. Keeping your dog leashed will help you keep her safe and out of harms way.


Keep the Preserves Safe - Observe Trail Etiquette

  • Phoenix mountain preserves are open, undeveloped desert areas. Hikers can encounter rocky terrain, rattlesnakes and other potential hazards native to the Sonoran Desert. Staying on trails and observing trail etiquette will help to ensure that your preserve outing is a safe one.
  • ALWAYS stay on a designated trail. Phoenix city ordinances prohibit trailblazing
  • Learn to share the trails with all other users.
  • In general, bike riders yield to both hikers and horseback riders; hikers yield to horseback riders. However, for all trail users, downhill yields to uphill. Use common sense and courtesy while on the trails.
  • Announce your intentions and slow your pace when passing someone on the trails.
  • Do not litter.
  • Destruction or removal of plants, animals, historical, prehistoric or geological sites are prohibited.
  • Do not chase or harass wildlife.
  • Avoid putting your hands and feet anywhere you cannot see.
  • Remember the 3 C’s: Courtesy, Communication and Common Sense.




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