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Phoenix, Arizona, United States

Camelback Mountain

Distinctive and dominant on the Phoenix landscape, Camelback Mountain is just begging to be conquered.

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 (6 votes, 4 reviews)
Difficulty: Difficult
Length: 2.2 miles / 3.5 km
Duration: 1-3 hours
Family Friendly
Overview: Distinctive and dominant on the Phoenix landscape, Camelback Mountain is just begging to be conquered. The two different routes to the 2,680ft summit offer different challenges, and both are featured in this guide.

Echo Canyon is the popular route, which ascends 1,400 foot up the western side of the mountain in just over a mile. The journey quickly becomes a real leg-burner but delivers some good hiking experiences and a varied terrain.

The Cholla trail heads up a well maintained trail on Camelback's east flank, but becomes a challenging and technical ascent upon reaching the ridgeline. This fun 1.3 mile route becomes increasingly rocky and precipitous, and though the conditions here are not extreme, we'd certainly urge caution and wouldn't recommend this route for young children or folk with a strong aversion to heights.

Elevation gain:
• Approx. 1,300ft (from 1,450 - 2,680ft)

• The journey to the summit of Camelback can take longer than you might think, and we'd strongly recommend carrying water.
• Some may find the Cholla trail to be difficult - proceed with care and always be prepared to turn back.
• Parking is restricted at both trailheads - take heed of posted signs to avoid tickets and respect property owners.

Points of Interest


Echo Valley Trailhead

This is the popular route up Camelback Mountain, and for good reason. Not only is it more accessible for the Phoenix metropolis, but it also offers a memorable and varied hiking experience.

Less technical than the Cholla trail on the east side, the Echo Valley trail is still no slouch, and climbs 1400ft in around 1.3 miles.

Limited parking is available at the trailhead, but be prepared to have to park a little distance away on a neighborhood street.

If you do win a coveted trailhead parking spot, be aware that parking is officially only allowed until 7pm although from our experience rangers rarely ticket offenders (park at your own risk!).

Praying Monk

The handrails are a welcome tool on this trail, but even with them this area can be a little tough both on the ascent and descent. Some good grippy footwear will make all the difference here.

The sandstone rock that dominates the western flanks of the mountain and represents the head of the figurative camel is known as the Praying Monk, and is geologically different from the granitic rock that comprises the rest of the mountain.

Echo Canyon

Keep a close eye on your trail as you head in and out of Echo Canyon - particularly on the downward journey, as the rocky surface sometimes disguises the route and its surprisingly easy to head off the trail.

Camelback Mountain Summit

Welcome to the summit of Camelback Mountain, 2,680 feet above sea level. Now, from wherever you are in Phoenix, you can look at the most dominant feature on the landscape and think "I climbed that".

Cholla Ridgeline

Up until now the Cholla trail has been a gentle uphill climb along a well trodden and well maintained route.Be forewarned that from this point on the Cholla trail gets a little more dicey.

Tracing a route up the Camelback ridgeline you'll become aware of the drops at both sides of you.Progressing further along the ridgeline the route becomes increasingly rocky and precipitous.

The conditions here are not extreme, but we certainly urge caution and wouldn't recommend this route for your children or folk with a strong aversion to heights!

The route of the trail may not be obvious from this point on, but the geography of the ridgeline keeps the direction certain and before you know it you'll be at the mountain summit.

Cholla Trailhead

The trailhead to the summit begins directly off E Cholla Lane on a very pleasant and well-maintained trail up the easternmost side of Camelback Mountain, with some great views.

There is no parking at the trailhead, and E Cholla Lane is off-limits. Closest parking available is around 0.3 miles away on Invergordon Rd just south of the intersection with Cholla.

Invergordon Rd parking operates limited hours, so be careful to read posted signs. Some neighboring streets to the east have no parking restrictions and just make for a slightly longer hike.
Pictures in this guide taken by: Trailspotting

Trailspotting content © Stuart Green 2011 including text, images, videos and route detail.
It's a pretty mountain with nice views, but both the Echo Canyon and Cholla trails are very difficult and should only be attempted to hike by experienced hikers in excellent shape. Non-hiker tourists should pick an easier trail. Parking is extremely limited in nice weather so be prepared to hike somewhere else if the lot is closed (which is most of the time on weekends in the cooler months). There is no alternative parking near the Echo Canyon Trailhead. It is also very crowded.
Visited on Dec 20, 2014

by CGC on Jan 16, 2015
Nice, easy hike that offers cool views of Phoenix and the surrounding area.
Visited on Apr 11, 2013

by tmacasek on May 19, 2014
Parking Here, Call 602-696-2883 for remote parking
Visited on Oct 22, 2012

by Parknhike on Oct 22, 2012
1) Call Park n' Hike for Parking Details
You cannot hike if you cannot park.
Hiking up Echo Canyon is 1.2 miles of lunges, leg presses and scramble over rocky terrain. If you take a moment to stand still, you experience nuances each time, changing colors of the stone, evolving foliage & cacti, chipmunks, reptiles, snakes and bees. Great Exercise and Spectacular variations of rock size, shape and color. I prefer to taking the entire mountain. So, I do a monkey descend down the top portion of the Cholla Trail until about the Helipad. Skipping down the remainder of Cholla, my peripheral vision is blessed with the mountains in the distance (Mummy, McDowell, Four Peaks, Superstition, SanTan, Papago, and South) I feel free from the city; it is like being out there with the simplicity of being here. Yes, the views coming down Cholla are this spectacular.

Get your hike on and enjoy investing in yourself.

I love skipping up Cholla and bouncing down Echo. It is just as easy to absorb the beauty of right of now while keeping the sun to your back during early morning hikes.

Also, the positive energy of those on the mountain is infections and the second best way to start your day.

Visited on Oct 21, 2012

by Parknhike on Oct 22, 2012

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