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<November 2015>

Desert Hiking Safety Tips

Most of us are “transplants” to the desert, having moved here from somewhere else. We can learn a lot from our native surroundings if we just tune in to what is going on around us. Desert mammals are active in the early morning hours and again at dusk. Adjust your outdoor recreation habits to reflect this pattern to enjoy a safe summer hiking season!

In addition, here are a couple of basic safety refreshers to keep in mind when recreating outdoors:

  • Take short, familiar trails.
  • Start early…the earlier the better.
  • Rest often.
  • Never hike alone
  • Keep skin covered as much as possible by wearing a long sleeved shirt and a hat. Light colored clothing will help reflect heat.
  • Stay hydrated all the time. The best place to store water is in your body! Make sure to drink extra (water) the day before a planned hike to pre-hydrate. On the hike, carry more water than you think you’ll need. Depending on the length of the hike, carry at least 70-100 ounces. Always keep extra water in your vehicle for after the hike.
  • Carry a bandana in your pack. They are light-weight and can be used for numerous situations. If you are beginning to suffer from excessive heat, wet the bandana and place on the nape of the neck and/or the forehead. This will help to cool you down quickly. Seek shade under a tree or bush.
  • Leave word with someone trustworthy about where you intend to go. If you plan to camp overnight, fill out a slip at the Ranger Station so we don’t assume you are lost or injured, if your car is at the trailhead at closing time (sunset).
  • Map miles are not the same as effort miles. On good trails, hikers can go up to 2.5 MPH. On most trails, count on no more than 1 or 1.5 MPH, especially if admiring the views, cooling off under Palo Verde trees, taking pictures, etc.
  • Going uphill takes more time. A 1,000’ climb equals a mile of effort and adds 10 or 20 minutes. Downhill is no faster if the trail is bad.
  • Heat can kill you! Avoid travel if it is above 100 degrees. Hike between sun up and 11 a.m. Your efficiency drops drastically with heat and dehydration.
  • Carry enough water – two quarts at least. (It is impossible to carry enough on a 115-degree day.)
  • Be wary of rattlesnakes, particularly at night and when it is relatively cool. We have a plentiful supply here.
  • Carry something to signal with – a police whistle, signal mirror, and matches for a fire, a colored panel – to make you visible.
  • It is good sense to carry a hiking staff to aid in rough spots, and some sprain tape.
  • White Tank Mountain is tough country. Off-trail travel can get you in bad trouble quickly.
  • Look behind you frequently. The trail back looks different from the trail out.


Be considerate – leave no trace.



Full Moon Hike - Spur Cross
Moon Hike - McDowell
Night Shredders - San Tan
Full Moon Hike - "Full Frosty Moon" - Usery Park

#TakeAHike on the Scenic Trail - McDowell - 11/27/2015
"We're All in This Together!" Desert Plant Walk - White Tank Mtn. - 11/27/2015
Sonoran Desert 101 - Usery Park - 11/27/2015
Family* Moonlight Hike - White Tank Mtn. - 11/27/2015
Geology of the Grand Canyon - Usery Park - 11/27/2015
Full Frost Moon Hike - San Tan - 11/27/2015
San Tan Shredders Mountain Bike Group - San Tan - 11/28/2015
Early Bird Walk and Program - White Tank Mtn. - 11/28/2015
Progressive Fitness Hike #4 - Usery Park - 11/28/2015
Archery 101 a - Cave Creek Regional Park - CANCELLED - 11/28/2015
Exploring the Dragonfly Trail - Spur Cross - 11/28/2015
Walk off your Pie Fitness Hike- Estrella Park - 11/28/2015
Turkey Trot Dog Walk - San Tan - 11/28/2015
Bike Demo Day - McDowell - 11/28/2015
Shoreline Fishing Talk by Fisherman Frank - Lake Pleasant - 11/28/2015
Reptile Feeding - McDowell - 11/28/2015
Archaeology - San Tan - 11/28/2015
Beginning Desert Hiking - Usery Park - 11/28/2015
Live Animal Presentation with Liberty Wildlife! - McDowell - 11/28/2015
NEW* Night Riders Mountain Bike Ride - White Tank Mtn. - 11/28/2015
Archery "OPEN RANGE"- Cave Creek Regional Park - CANCELLED - 11/28/2015
Elephant Mountain Fortress Hike - Spur Cross - 11/29/2015
New to Arizona? - Usery Park - 11/29/2015
Take Your Walk to the Desert - Spur Cross - 11/30/2015
Desert Walk 'n' Talk - San Tan - 12/1/2015

General Park Hours
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Headquarters Admin Hours
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except holidays 

Maricopa County Parks & Recreation Dept.
The Headquarter Administrative Offices are located at:
41835 N. Castle Hot Springs Rd.
Unit Operations Center

Morristown, AZ 85342
Ph: 602-506-2930 or (928) 501-9200
Fax: (602)372-8596

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