Camelback Mountain sits 20 minutes Northeast of Phoenix, in the always popular Scottsdale. As a part of the Echo Canyon Recreation Are, Camelback is one of the most popular hikes in all of Arizona. Make note that Camelback is “urban” hiking. The views you’ll see are of Phoenix and its surrounding areas.
If you’re looking for more of a wilderness hike I would suggest passing on Camelback and checking out some of the other great hikes Arizona has to offer. If you’re in the Phoenix area looking for a great view of the area and good workout Camelback is perfect for you.
Know the rating of the hike
Hikes are given “ratings” to help people determine if they’re capable of a certain hike. Camelback has TWO summit trails and both are rated “extremely difficult”. Meaning they are extremely strenuous and difficult, with long rocky segments with possible drops and exposure. For more information on Camelback’s rating head over here.
Hike the trail that’s best for you
The Cholla Trail is 1.5 miles one way to the mountain summit. The Echo Canyon Trail is 1.3 miles one way to the mountain summit. While both hikes have the same hike rating, Cholla is known as being slightly easier.
Avoid busy times
During the Winter and Spring months snow birds and tourists in town for Spring Training flock to Camelback, making this hike insanely busy. If you don’t want to brave the crowds, picking another hike might be your best option. Phoenix offers many other hiking opportunities, check them out here.
Park in the right spot
For the Cholla Trail you will need to park on Invergordon Road. Do not, I repeat do NOT park on Cholla Lane. Cholla Lane is a residential street with some very beautiful homes on it, but for this reason you are not allowed to park on this street. They are not shy about towing people who can not seem to read the 93434 signs posted about parking being prohibited. The Echo Canyon Trail has a parking lot, but it fills up quickly. Which brings me to #5…
Get there early
I say this for two reasons:
- It gets extremely hot later in the day (you’re in the middle of the desert, duh).
- The later you arrive the busier the mountain gets. We got to Camelback at 7am for our hike. Parking wasn’t bad, and the weather was cool.
Hydrate before and bring lots of water for during the hike
As we already know from #1, this is a tough trail, and as I reminded you in #5, it’s located in the middle of the desert. This is a no-brainer: pack a water bottle (or two!) you will need it.
Bring your dog while you still can
We brought Gatsby along and he loved it. As of right now, Dogs are permitted on the Cholla Trail. Dogs are NOT permitted on the Echo Canyon Trail. I say “as of right now” because on our hike on 10/25/15 there was a notice posted that the city of Phoenix has recently started discussions about making the entire mountain off-limits to dogs. Any updates or changes on this matter will be posted here.