How Camelback Mountain became one of Phoenix’s most popular hiking destinations

June 29, 2022
Author : Laura Williams
Photo by Walter Martin on Unsplash

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It’s a well-known fact that hiking is one of the best exercises for your body and mind. It’s also a great way to get outside and enjoy nature. But if you’re new to hiking, it can be tricky to know where to start. That’s why we’ve put together this guide to one of Phoenix’s most popular hiking destinations: Camelback Mountain.

The mountain is a popular destination for hikers of all levels of experience, thanks to its variety of trails. For those looking for a challenge, there are plenty of steep and strenuous trails to choose from. But there are also plenty of easier trails for those who are just starting out.

The mountain’s name comes from the two humps that form its back. These humps are made of granite, which is a type of rock that is common in the area. The rocks on the mountain are quite old, dating back to the late Precambrian era.

Stunning Views

Stunning Views - <a href="https://www.facebook.com/phoenixparks/photos/a.1612929038802534/1612929285469176/?type=3">Photo Source</a>
Stunning Views – Photo Source

One of the best things about hiking Camelback Mountain is the amazing views you get from the top. On a clear day, you can see all the way to downtown Phoenix and beyond. You can also see some of the surrounding mountains, including Squaw Peak and Piestewa Peak.

The history of Camelback Mountain is quite interesting. The first people to settle in the area were the Hohokam Indians, who lived here for centuries before disappearing in the 1500s. The mountain was later used as a military training ground during World War II. It wasn’t until the 1950s that people started to explore and climb mountains.

What makes Camelback Mountain so popular for hiking?

Hiking - <a href="https://www.facebook.com/phoenixparks/photos/a.1612929038802534/1612929742135797/?type=3">Photo Source</a>
Hiking – Photo Source

Camelback Mountain is a prominent landmark in Phoenix, Arizona. The mountain is located in the Echo Canyon Recreation Area and is a popular destination for hikers, runners, and cyclists.

Echo Canyon Trail - <a href="https://modernhiker.com/hike/echo-canyon-trail-camelback-mountain/">Photo Source</a>
Echo Canyon Trail – Photo Source

The most popular route to the summit is the Echo Canyon Trail, which is a strenuous 2.4-mile climb up 1,400 feet. The trail is well-maintained and offers breathtaking views of the city below. Other popular trails on Camelback Mountain include the Cholla Trail and the Summit Trail.

View of the city - <a href="https://modernhiker.com/hike/echo-canyon-trail-camelback-mountain/">Photo Source</a>
View of the city – Photo Source

Camelback Mountain is one of the most popular hiking destinations in Phoenix because it offers something for everyone. The trails are suitable for hikers of all levels of experience, and the mountain provides beautiful views of the city below.

How do you get to the mountain and where can you park?

To get to Camelback Mountain, take the Echo Canyon Parkway exit off of Camelback Road. The park entrance is located on the east side of the road. There is limited parking available at the park, so it is advisable to arrive early. There is also a park and ride lot located at the base of the mountain, which offers free parking and shuttle service to the summit.

What are the different trails that hikers can take, and which one is right for me?

There are a variety of trails hikers can take on Camelback Mountain, and each one offers a unique experience. The Echo Canyon Trail is the most popular route to the summit, and it is strenuous but well-maintained. The Cholla Trail is a less strenuous alternative, while the Summit Trail is for experienced hikers only. Hikers should choose a trail that is appropriate for their level of experience and fitness level.

What should I bring with me on my hike, and what should I leave behind?

When hiking Camelback Mountain, it is important to be prepared for extreme weather conditions. Hikers should bring plenty of water and sunscreen and should be prepared for extreme heat and cold. It is also important to bring a map of the area and to know the route you are taking.

It is also important to leave valuables behind when hiking Camelback Mountain. There is limited parking available at the park, and it is advisable to arrive early. It is also a good idea to leave expensive jewelry and other valuables at home.

What are some of the things I might see on my hike, and how long will it take me to complete the trail(s)?

When hiking Camelback Mountain, hikers can expect to see a variety of wildlife and plants. The Cholla Trail is home to a variety of cacti, while the Summit Trail offers hikers beautiful views of the city below.

Hikers can expect to take between 2 and 4 hours to complete the Echo Canyon Trail, and between 1 and 2 hours to complete the Cholla Trail. The Summit Trail is for experienced hikers only, and it is not recommended for beginners.

Is there anything else I need to know before heading out to Camelback Mountain for a hike?

Besides being prepared for extreme weather conditions, hikers should be aware of the dangers that exist on Camelback Mountain. There are some steep cliffs and drop-offs, so hikers should always stay on the trail. It is also important to be aware of the heat and to take breaks in the shade when necessary. Hikers should never hike alone and should tell someone where they are going and when they expect to return.

Best Hiking Gear for Camelback Mountain

Camelback Mountain hike is considered hard and more like a steep climb than a regular hike. The summit itself is roughly 2700 ft and the hike will take around 2-3 hours. As the trail is challenging and is very exposed to the sun during the summer months yet the view is worth it, so prepare yourself and get essential hiking gear to make sure nothing will complicate the hike. 

Start your hike very early in the morning to beat the sun and crowds, around 5.30 AM.

We recommend this hiking gear for Camelback Mountain:

  • 18L Osprey backpack has a large water reservoir which is exactly what you need for this hike as you need your hands not holding a bottle but helping you climb. 
  • Long convertible pants for men and women
  • For shirts choose Dri-Fit materials or Merino wool, no denim or cotton. Same for underwear!
  • Good hiking shoes and socks are extremely important for Camelback Mountain trails as the hike is a true leg burner according to AllTrails. Choose waterproof Merrell hiking shoes for women, these waterproof Merrell shoes for men, and high hiking socks with cushions (those are great for men and women).
  • Sunscreen is a must, all the trail is exposed to the sun. 
  • Gloves are important as you will use your hands a lot and it is the best way to protect them.
  • A hat or a cap is absolutely needed as again, on a sunny day, the sun over Camelback Mountain is merciless. 
  • Power Bank for phones or a travel solar phone charger 
  • Hiking poles are a must for steep Camelback Mountain trails, as they will help you go up and downhill and protect your knees. However, you can use just gloves and go without poles. If you are not used to the poles they will only frustrate you. 
  • The 3L water reservoir will save you and keep you hydrated as the trail is challenging and open. There is no place to hide from the sun or get water if you didn’t bring enough.  
  • Mini first aid kit (get all you need from your home aid kit or get a travel one)

Hiking Camelback Mountain in Phoenix FAQ

Is Camelback Mountain hard to hike?

Hikes here are easy to moderate and will take from 1 to 3 hours based on your preparation, but you will most definitely need sunscreen, lots of water, and the right hiking shoes. Hiking Camelback Mountain is not recommended for kids and dogs are not allowed on the trail. 

How long does it take to climb Camelback Mountain in Phoenix?

If you are about to go on a hike, a round trip will take you about 2-3 hours. As the park opens very early, start your hike as early as you can. If you prefer rock climbing, allocate 1.5 to 3 hours to climb Camelback Mountain. 

Why is Camelback Mountain so popular?

Camelback Mountain is the highest point in Phoenix Mountains and is incredibly popular among residents and tourists due to its iconic panoramic city views and hikes. It can also be partially famous because of its name and resemblance to a camel hump. 

Where is Camelback Mountain in relation to Phoenix?

Camelback Mountain is located northeast of Phoenix Central City in the Paradise Valley suburb, and it takes only around 20 min drive to get to the mountain from the city center.