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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.

.

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Exploring the Sonoran Desert - McDowell
April Fools and Cactus Blooms! - White Tank Mtn.
Meandering the Merkle - Usery Park
Wildflower Walk - Spur Cross
Hiking the Grand Canyon - Usery Park
April Fool's Day Crazy Hat Sunset and Moon Glow Hike - Lake Pleasant
Night Shredders - San Tan

Fitness Thursdays -Estrella Park - 4/2/2015
Spring Fitness Hike - Cave Creek Regional Park - 4/2/2015
Three Mile Thursday - Usery Park - 4/2/2015
Bird Walk - McDowell - 4/2/2015
Desert Scavenger Hike - Lake Pleasant - 4/2/2015
Homeschool: Land Before Time - San Tan - 4/2/2015
Desert Plant Walk- White Tank Mtn. - 4/2/2015
"Just for Kids" - Storytime in the Desert - Usery Park - 4/2/2015
Storytelling - Tales of the Sonoran Desert - White Tank Mtn. - 4/2/2015
Ride with the Ranger to the Clay Mine! - Cave Creek Regional Park - 4/2/2015
Friday Fitness Hike- 4 Peaks (Horse) Staging Area - McDowell - 4/3/2015
Trail Blazers: Fitness Hike - San Tan - 4/3/2015
Hike the Wind Cave Trail - Usery Park - 4/3/2015
Fun with a Bow - Archery 101 - Lake Pleasant - 4/3/2015
Wildflower Walk - Spur Cross - 4/3/2015
Hike by the Light of a Full Moon! - Cave Creek Regional Park - 4/3/2015
Family Moonlight Hike - White Tank Mtn. - 4/3/2015
Full Moon Hike - "Full Pink Moon" - Usery Park - 4/3/2015
Full Moon Hike - McDowell - 4/3/2015
Night Hike -Estrella Park - 4/3/2015
“Scrambled EGGstravaganza” Crafts and Games - San Tan - 4/4/2015
Archery 101 (Two class times available) - Usery Park - 4/4/2015
Family Fitness Hike -Estrella Park - 4/4/2015
Tot Trot on the Tortoise Trail - McDowell - 4/4/2015
Wag ‘n’ Walk Dog Adoption Hike - Usery Park - 4/4/2015
more...


General Park Hours
Sun-Thu: 6am-8pm
Fri-Sat: 6am-10pm
- 365 days a year 

Headquarters Admin Hours
Mon-Fri: 8am-4pm
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
maricopacountyparks@mail.maricopa.gov

 
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