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Tumamoc Hill changes walking hours to attract visitors

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Ian Green | The Daily Wildcat

People hike up Tumamoc Hill on Sept. 4. Hours for the popular hiking trail are now 4 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Unbeknownst to most, the big hill right next to "A" Mountain with the brutally steep trail formally known as Tumamoc was closed during daylight hours. It was a little-known rule because it was rarely enforced.

Now, Tumamoc is open throughout the day, from 4 a.m. to 10 p.m. and closed at night in an effort to increase traffic. This change comes in conjunction with a new information app and the closing off of the summit.

“The hours aren’t really enforceable,” said Ben Wilder, director for Tumamoc Hill, about the previous day time restrictions. “[It was] open during the night when the most vandalism was happening.”

RELATED: Benjamin Wilder named Tumamoc Hill's interim director

The original intent of the rule was to keep foot traffic from interfering in research development on Tumamoc, an important consideration, since the UA-owned hill is both a National Historic Landmark and a key ecological preserve.

Wilder, who was appointed as Tumamoc Hill director in October 2016, wanted more public involvement in Tumamoc and found a compromise in closing off the summit of the hill but changing the hours.

This involved building a gate at the top of the trail, fitted with two signs telling walkers to “stop walking beyond this point” along with an explanation.

Ian Green | The Daily Wildcat

A sign displaying the new hours for hiking on Tumamoc Hill on Sept. 4. In addition to changing hours, the hill's summit will also be fenced off.

“I didn’t just want to say, 'you’re not allowed to walk here, get out,' ” Wilder said. “People deserve a reason.”

Wilder announced work to change the hours back in November. Now, after UA public forums, taking steps to protect the top of the hill and discussions with the Tucson Police Department and Pima County (who co-manages the western side of the preserve), that promise has been fulfilled.

“I didn’t want to change hours unilaterally,” Wilder said. “Having that plan and working with all the stakeholders to put it into action — when you look at it, the timeline is actually pretty impressive.”

RELATED: Take a hike: Five trails around Tucson

The other big development to increase community outreach has been the “Tumamoc Tour” app. The app, developed by Archaeology Southwest, informs the user of the history of the preserve as they walk the trail.

That history is extensive. The hill, which has been used by humans for 2,500 years, was originally named “Hill of the Horned Lizard” by the native Tohono O'Odhams.

The same software developers are now working on creating a visual reconstruction of what the Hill looked like 2,500 years ago, Wilder said. The app is projected to work like a lens, where the user can point their phone anywhere at the top and see what the Hill is believed to have looked like.

Ian Green | The Daily Wildcat

The view of downtown Tucson from the top of Tumamoc Hill, a popular hiking spot in Tucson. 


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