Beat the heat and stay safe with these moonlight and early morning hikes.
Like climbing Mount Everest without supplemental oxygen or eating Tide pods, hiking in 115-degree heat has become a symbol of fringe bad-assery. Sometimes you die, sometimes you don’t. More than 200 hikers each year are rescued from Valley trails with heat exhaustion, dehydration, injuries or worse.
Most of these heat-related hiking mishaps involve poor choices (or plain stupidity). Nobody is immune. But you can still indulge your hiking habit and minimize your risk of becoming a statistic by hitting the trails during the early morning or evening, hydrating before, during and after a hike and by not going alone. These smart practices are the foundations of ranger-led group hikes offered around the Valley.
Dark Skies & Scorpions
Located far from the light-polluted heat island of Central Phoenix, San Tan Mountain Regional Park in Queen Creek offers darker nights, starry skies and abundant nocturnal critters. The park hosts moonlight walks and kiddy-pleasing, nighttime scorpion hunts along the Moonlight and Stargazer trails.
Wilderness Moonlight Walks (pictured)
When drenched in moon glow, the craggy Superstition Mountains are a stunning sight. Lost Dutchman State Park in Apache Junction is perfectly situated for watching the moon creep over a volcanic wilderness to the sound of yelping coyotes and owls on the prowl. Step out on your own or join a guided full-moon trek.
Splashy Shoreline Treks
Lake Pleasant Regional Park north of Peoria is all about water-centric recreation. Popular ways to cool off at the park include shoreline treks that combine hiking with cool dips and evening hikes to watch the moon’s reflection glide over the lake.
Snack on a Saguaro
Cactus fruits reach their peak of deliciousness in July. The early morning, interpretive Fruits of the Desert hikes led by Ranger Kevin Smith on July 6-7 starting at 7 a.m. in Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area in Cave Creek include demonstrations on traditional harvesting methods and tastings of prickly pear, saguaro and jojoba fruits fresh-picked from their native habitat.