Spending some time in Arizona? You can’t visit this sunny state and not attempt its most famous mountain hike.
Located just 20 minutes from downtown Phoenix, Camelback Mountain is a Phoenix icon. Two difficult trailheads will bring you up 1,420 feet to a summit resembling the hump of a camel’s back, where you’ll have amazing 360-degree views of the city.
It’s tough, but worth it.
1. What’s so special about Camelback Mountain?
The views of the city from the peak are absolutely beautiful. You can hike the trail from sunrise to sunset, and it’s home to native wildlife such as the desert tortoise, chuckwalla lizard, cottontail rabbits, and rattlesnakes. Basically, it’s just what you expect from Arizona.
Both Echo Canyon Trail and Cholla Trail are quite difficult, challenging hikers with exposed rock, strenuous climbs and sections of hand-over-hand climbing.
2. How do I get there?
Cholla Trail: The Cholla Trail is accessed on foot by walking from the parking on Invergordon Drive on the East Side of Camelback Mountain. There’s no parking, or dropping off on Cholla Road, or near the trailhead.
Echo Canyon Trail: You access the Echo Canyon Trail directly from the car park at Echo Canyon Park. Getting a parking spot can be a long wait if you arrive on the weekend after 6 AM.
3. How much will it cost?
It’s free! As we mentioned, parking spaces can be limited however, so it might be an idea to share a taxi with some friends to the start of the trail.
4. How long will it take?
Cholla Trail: Cholla Trail is a slightly longer (1.5 miles) and steadier climb than Echo Canyon, but that doesn’t mean it’s not tricky. It’s not for those scared of heights and there can be loose gravel. The round trip hike will take approximately 2-3 hours, but it really depends on your fitness level.
Echo Canyon Trail: This trail is an intense and difficult anaerobic hike the entire 1.23 miles to the top. Expect the round trip hike to take about 2 to 3 hours.
5. When is the best time to go?
Come as early as possible, and not in peak summer season – it’s too hot. In early morning and late afternoon some of the Camelback mountain Echo trail will be in the shade. The hike gets very busy on weekends, so if you want to avoid trail traffic then stop by on a weekday instead.
We don’t recommend this hike in summer temperatures!
6. Where I will I get the best photos?
There’s plenty of great photo spots along both routes, so be prepared to stop for lots of pictures alone the way. You’ll get the best views from the summit, but Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa has the best views of the mountain itself.
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7. Any insider tips?
- Brings LOTS of water.
- There’s no bathrooms on Cholla Trail, so be aware of that before you set off/
- Bring high energy snacks and hiking boots.
- For novice hikers, go slowly and don’t rush.
- Stay on the trail – it’s dangerous to venture off.