Hiking Camelback Mountain in Phoenix, Arizona

Camelback Mountain is a well-know peak and one of the most popular hiking spots in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area thanks to both its level of difficulty and phenomenal panoramic views at the summit.  The mountain gets its name from its distinctive shape that resembles a camel’s hump.  This so-called camelback is no joke, reaching an elevation of over 2,700 feet over a relatively short distance, making it a quick but challenging straight up and then straight down trek.

There are 2 out and back trail options to reach the peak of Camelback Mountain.  We chose the Echo Canyon Trailhead, which is located off E. McDonald Drive on the northwest side of the mountain.  There is limited parking here so you might encounter a long wait, especially on weekends (it was full when we showed up and we were told it would be about a 20-minute wait to get in).  The well-marked trail here is steep and rocky, ascending over 1,400 feet over the course of 1.25 miles to the summit, and includes 2 sections with a railing to help you make your way up the incline.  The remainder of the trail consists of large rocks dotted with the occasional saguaro cactus to strategically climb over and around until you reach the summit and are rewarded with 360-views of the surrounding area before making the downhill descent.

The other option is the Cholla Trailhead located on the east side of the mountain off N. Invergordon Road.  This trail is relatively easy for the first mile and then transitions to large rocks at the section known as “the saddle” before meeting up with the end of the Echo Canyon Trail at the summit.  Total elevation gain here is about 1,300 feet.  Both trails are accessibly from sunrise to sunset and take about 2-3 hours to complete depending on your pace.  You’ll find restroom facilities and a water fountain at both trailheads, and important to remember that ascending hikers have the right of way.

View from the top

Pick one trail or the other to hike, or if you’re hiking with other people another option is to park one vehicle at each trailhead so you can experience both sides of Camelback Mountain.

Where I Hiked
Trail: Echo Canyon Trail
Distance: 2.5 miles
Location: 33.521496, -111.973121
How to get there: From Downtown Phoenix, head north on AZ-51 to E. Glendale Avenue then continue on E. Lincoln Drive before turning right on N. Tatum Boulevard and finally left on E. McDonald Drive where you will see a roundabout that leads to the parking lot for the Echo Canyon Trailhead.


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