The popular hiking trail to Fossil Creek, near Strawberry, will be closing during the hottest part of the summer.
The Fossil Springs Trail and trailhead will be closed July 1 through August 31.
According to Carrie Templin, a public affairs officer with the Tonto National Forest, the risk of heat-related illness on the trail is one of the reasons for the closure. Fossil Creek Road is unpaved and has suffered some damage, making it difficult for emergency responders to access the creek to help injured hikers.
"A section of that road was washed out last summer, and then there was some additional rock fall this spring," Templin told The Arizona Republic. "The road is now completely impassable to any kind of vehicle. At this point, emergency responders would have to walk the same distance as hikers to get in there to assist anybody who needs that assistance."
While the closure is planned to end August 31, it could be extended if weather conditions remain hot into September. Templin says they don't want this to become a permanent closure, but have to figure out what options are out there to get emergency responders quicker access to the trail.