Camelback Mountain is a world-famous icon that defines the northeast horizon of Phoenix. Camelback Mountain takes the shape of a gigantic camel that gently lays and touches the borders of Phoenix, Scottsdale and Paradise Valley. At its base is a blend of luxury homes, resorts and golf courses. For those who want more than to admire Camelback Mountain from afar, there are two trails to challenge yourself. It’s a popular spot for hikers, rock climbers, and tourists alike with over 300,000 people hiking the mountain every year. Both trails reach the 2,704 feet summit. Echo Canyon and Cholla trails are rated “strenuous” for good reasons, so be prepared. There are about 200 annual search and rescue efforts in Phoenix, with the majority of those happening at Camelback Mountain. My family and I hike the Echo Canyon trail at least once a year, although we have never witnessed anyone being rescued, we have a friend who works for the Phoenix Fire Department who can talk all day and night about the rescues he has done on Camelback Mountain. Following the signs, knowing your limits and staying hydrated are the keys to staying safe on Camelback Mountain, as well as any hiking trail.
Echo Canyon Trail
Enter Echo Canyon Parkway east of Tatum Blvd. off of McDonald Drive. Parking is often limited. The trail ascends through spectacular sandstone rock formations with views from the summit into Greater Phoenix. The Echo Canyon Trail is 1.2 miles each way with an elevation gain of 1,264 feet.
There is no trailhead parking, street parking limited at Invergordon and 64th Street. Hikers must walk up the south side of Cholla Lane. Cholla Trail is only recommended for experienced hikers because of its steep, rocky sections with drop-offs on both sides of the trail. The Cholla Trail is 1.5 miles each way with an elevation gain of 1,200 feet.
Have you hiked Camelback Mountain? What’s your favorite trail? I’ve never hiked the Cholla Trail, but I’m hoping to make it there this spring before the summer heat comes!