One of the most iconic landmarks in the vibrant and growing city of Phoenix is Camelback Mountain. This natural attraction gets its name from it’s resemblance to the head and humps of a camel, and this is a must-do hike for anyone visiting Phoenix.
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There are two main trails on Camelback Mountain, but both of them are difficult, rugged, and feature steep elevation gains. The Cholla Trail is a little easier and considered to be more scenic. There is limited street parking by the trailhead, but watch the signs so your car doesn’t get towed. This trail is steep, rocky, and traverses the eastern slope of the mountain. The elevation gain is about 1,420 feet, and the trail distance is a hard 1.5 miles.
The Echo Canyon Trail is a little shorter in distance, about 1.2 miles, but a bit more strenuous than the Cholla Trail. It climbs along Camelback Mountain’s western slope, and in some sections, you’ll feel like your climbing more than hiking.
Unfortunately for pet owners, dogs aren’t allowed on any Camelback Mountain trails. You should also know that this is an extremely popular trail, so prepare to be social rather than find solitude. Popular hiking times are on weekends between October and April, so consider doing this hike on an off-season weekday and early in the morning before the hot temperatures soar, like they tend to do in Phoenix.
Whichever route you choose, you’ll be rewarded for your hard work with amazing views of Phoenix, Scottsdale, and the surrounding desert landscapes. Although you’re deep in the desert, you may very well see wildlife along these trails, such as quail, falcons, lizards, and maybe even the occasional rattlesnake.
Remember that this is a tough hike, so prepare to take some breaks and bring plenty of water with you. Climbing up is certainly a challenge, but so is climbing down, thanks to a steady supply of loose rocks. Take your time, and allow faster hikers to pass by when necessary.
For an easier alternative and to get just a taste of Camelback Mountain, you can walk along the easy Bobby’s Rock trail, which begins at the Echo Canyon trailhead and takes you right up to the Echo Canyon trail. This short 0.2-mile loop gains about 200 feet in elevation and takes you by sandstone rock formations, desert vegetation, and impressive views of the Phoenix Mountains Preserve and Paradise Valley.
Camelback Mountain Information:
- Cholla Trailhead: 6131 E. Cholla Lane, Paradise Valley, AZ
- Echo Canyon Trailhead: 4925 E. McDonald Drive, Phoenix, AZ
- Ranger Phone Number: 602-261-8318
- Website: https://www.phoenix.gov/parks/trails/locations/camelback-mountain