Note: Echo Canyon will be closed starting January 28, 2013, scheduled to reopen in the fall of 2013. There will be a renovation of the trail and new parking and mountain access added. Hikers can still climb Cholla, but can't continue to come down on the Echo Canyon side during construction.
Camelback Mountain is probably the most recognizable natural feature of the City of Phoenix. Named Camelback Mountain because it resembles a resting camel, with a large hump on its back, this is one of the most popular recreational areas for hiking in the City of Phoenix. While there are scores of hiking trails in the parks, mountains and desert recreational areas around Maricopa County, Camelback Mountain is unique because it is located right in Central Phoenix, about 20 minutes from Sky Harbor International Airport. That makes it not only a popular hiking spot for locals, but also for visitors who are looking for a hiking opportunity close to downtown Phoenix.
There are two main hiking trails at Camelback Mountain. Both are considered moderate to strenuous hikes, depending on who is evaluating it. The ascent to the peak is only about 1,200 feet, but paths may be uneven, narrow and rocky in parts. Echo Canyon is the most popular trail, and is about 1.2 miles each way; Cholla Trail is longer at about 1.6 miles in, so it is not as steep as Echo Canyon. The Cholla Trail is the less utilized of the two. Both are open sunrise to sunset every day of the year.
Ten Things To Know Before You Hike Camelback Mountain
- Leashed pets are permitted. Beware of bringing very small or very old dogs because there are sections where there are boulders to climb.
- Bring plenty of water, and some snacks. A backpack is preferable, so you can hike hands-free, especially when climbing over rocks on the Cholla Trail.
- The two trails actually join at the top, such that you could climb up one and down the other. Remember, though, that unless you plane to hike it twice on one outing, you won’t get back to your car that way!
- While you can hike all year long, during the summer you should get there very early. By 8 a.m. it is already hot, and it doesn't really cool down here at night in the summer.
- Wear hiking shoes or sturdy, supportive walking shoes. Not all parts of the trails are evenly graded.
- Stay on the marked trails. There are desert critters out in the desert that you don’t want to deal with on your hike.
- There’s not much shade on the Cholla side of the mountain. Wear sunscreen, a hat and bring sunglasses for either hike.
- Remember that hikers going up have the right of way.
- Parking is downright frustrating at both trails. Come early and at off-peak times, like weekday afternoons during fall and winter. Carpool. You may have to walk a mile from your parking spot before you even start your Camelback Mountain hike!
- Enjoy the beautiful views of Phoenix and Scottsdale!
For official information about climbing Camelback Mountain, including maps, visit the City of Phoenix online.