South Mountain roads remain closed, city releases photos of damage

Two weeks after an intense Aug. 31 monsoon ripped through Phoenix, popular rides in South Mountain Park remain closed.

Park rangers will meet this week to discuss a reopening date for the roads that lead to the towers and to San Juan, South Mountain park ranger Allyson Pacini said.

“It just comes down to safety in my mind – better to be cautious than just hasty in opening a roadway that could possibly crumble,” Pacini said.

She said even though the damaged sections don’t span the entire roadway, it doesn’t mean they are stable.

“If we allow the public [on the roads] knowing that those sections are unstable, and if someone were to get injured, caused by one of those eroded road sections, then the city could be held liable in that case,” Pacini said.

She said rangers and maintenance personnel are keeping driving to a minimum, and if the public could drive on the roads, it could cause further damage.

“Folks can still drive/bike in about one mile from the front gate to the different trailheads and ramada areas,” she said.

The largest municipal park in the nation, South Mountain is home to mountain biking trails and a summit road climb all within a short drive from the Phoenix metro area.

“When you live in the city, SoMo is always a great escape,” said The Heavy Pedal’s Jesse Hill, who organizes nighttime group rides to the top when there is a full moon. “Luckily AZ is a great place to ride but a bummer for those who like to climb.”

Erin Morley (Tribe Multisport) calls South Mountain the “epicenter” of his training for years.

“It not only provides a place to get serious elevation gains, it provides an area of less traffic,” he said. “It’s a staple for Valley cyclists.”

The park also closed in September last year following a monsoon that caused major damage to trails and roads, with tons of debris covering the park’s roads. It didn’t reopen until February – about six months after the storm.

But Pacini said this year’s storm wasn’t as significant.

To keep up to date, watch for news on Clipped In or check Phoenix’s city website for South Mountain.

Sarah Muench