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Camelback Mountain

echo-canyon-trail at camelback mountain

Camelback Mountain

This mountain is Phoenix’s geographic landmark, a combination of sandstone and granite that rises to an altitude of 2,704 feet on the city’s eastern edge.  This is a great urban hike conveniently located in the middle of the Phoenix metro area.  You’ll have great views of Phoenix and the surrounding area from the peak.

Where is Camelback Mountain?

Camelback Mountain is a popular hiking destination that attracts both locals and tourists and is located in the Camelback Mountain Echo Canyon Recreation Area between Phoenix, Scottsdale and Paradise Valley.

There are two trails to the summit, which offers panoramic views of Phoenix and the Valley of the Sun. The 1.2-mile Summit Trail begins at Echo Canyon near the camel’s head, and the 1.5-mile Cholla Trail runs up the camel’s spine, gaining 1,200 feet in altitude. Both hikes are steep and strenuous and are for experienced hikers. Parking is limited.

[tabs style=”h1″ ]
[tab title=”Echo Canyon Trail” ] This trail is a very difficult hike the entire 1.23 miles to the summit.  Think of it as an outdoor stair-master.  Be prepared to climb over 1,400 in elevation to  2,704 ft above sea level.

It’s such a popular hike on weekends that getting a parking spot can be a long wait if you arrive after 6 AM. Be a smart hiker and bring plenty of fluids.  Many hikers don’t anticipate the difficulty and when you add the dry heat of Arizona, it can even be life threatening. Expect the hike to take about 1.5 to 3 hours depending on your physical conditioning, the time of year and the temperature.

The trail’s terrain starts railroad ties and small rocks for the first 3/8 mile. The first rail comes next, which is the steepest and most difficult part of the trail. After this physical challenge, there is about 200 feet of low grade hiking until another, less intense, rail section. Once past the second rail, the Echo Canyon trail consists of large rocks, amazing views, and a continued steep climb until the summit, another .7 miles farther.

Bring your camera, there are many good places to stop for water, snacks and photos. [/tab]
[tab title=”Cholla Trail” ]

If you’re looking for a great workout with awesome views of metro Phoenix, the Cholla Trail at Camelback Mountain is for you. The Cholla Trail gains 1,300 feet over 1.42 miles and is easier to navigate than the Echo Canyon Trail because it’s often less crowded.

Park your vehicle at Cholla is also less of a challenge, as you can still park on Invergordon Road (64th St) and walk up to the trail via Cholla Lane. Once parked you will need to walk about 1/4 to 1/2 mile to reach the trail.

The Cholla trail presents the hiker a nice, winding hike with great views of Scottsdale and Phoenix. The first 1.1 miles are trail  are easy hiking. But, once you reach “the saddle” the hike becomes physically intense and you’ll be  scrambling for the final 1/3 mile. Bring your camera for the views and the occasional wildlife you’ll see.


The camel’s head is made up of layered sandstone, while the hump primarily is composed of granite that is much older. Sen. Barry Goldwater led a campaign to preserve the mountain’s summit from urban encroachment in the 1960s.

The mountain is home to cottontail rabbits, snakes, lizards, squirrels, and birds, along with a variety of cacti and palo verde, mesquite, and ironwood trees.

Camelback Mountain Hike, Arizona (HD Time Lapse Video)
Source: Kurt Von Studios

Parking and Traffic Alert for Echo Canyon

During the Winter visitor season and Spring great weather months, Echo Canyon can experience EXTREMELY high visitation.  The parking lot will fill quickly in the late morning through early afternoon and then remain full throughout the day and especially on weekends.  Be advised that when the park reaches capacity, the gate will be closed.

You’re not allow to idle or park on McDonald Drive or Tatum Blvd. while waiting for the gates to open.  You will get a ticket.

The City of Phoenix recommends the following to avoid traffic at Camelback Mountain.

  • Bike to the trailhead. If you can, consider bringing a bike in your vehicle, parking in a public parking area within a few miles of the park and biking to the trailhead. There are 17 bike lock racks that can accommodate at least 34 bikes at one time.
  • Consider another hiking location, especially on weekends and during peak hiking season through April. We have many great summit climbs that offer a solid workout without the crushing crowds of Camelback. North Mountain, South Mountain, Lookout Mountain and the Sonoran Preserve offer challenging hikes and summit climbs.
  • Avoid the area on weekends. During winter and spring months, weekend traffic is heavy throughout the day and traffic and gate closures are possible at all times.
  • Carpool whenever possible. When meeting friends to hike at Echo Canyon, always meet off site and travel to the trailhead in a single vehicle.
  • Try a less busy time on weekdays. Early afternoons tend to be the least busy times during weekdays.
  • Try returning 15-20 minutes later. You can NOT idle in nearby neighborhoods or circle on nearby streets.

(Source: https://www.phoenix.gov/parks/trails/locations/camelback-mountain)



Echo Canyon Recreation Area

4925 E. McDonald Dr.

Driving map to the Park
Ranger Office: (602) 261-8318
Camelback Mountain Gatehouse: 602-534-5867
Send e-mail inquiries to echo.canyon.park@phoenix.gov
Parking lot and trail hours: sunrise to sunset

Dogs are not permitted at Echo Canyon Trail.

Cholla Trail

6131 E. Cholla Lane
Driving map to Cholla Trail

Public parking at Cholla Trail

Parking is limited to parallel parking in permitted areas along the west side of Invergordon Road, just south of Cholla Lane, in areas signed for parking. There are a small number of spots available for parking on the east side of Invergordon, however there are extensive areas on Invergordon on which parking is prohibited by on-street “No Parking” signs.  You must observe on-street signage related to parking restrictions and prohibitions.

Passenger drop off or pick up is prohibited on Cholla Lane. To access the trail, hikers must proceed on foot down the westside (uphill) of Cholla Lane.  Note: Cholla Lane is a residential street and hikers are asked to use the designated granite trail or pedestrian bike/walk lane. There are no restrooms or drinking fountains available.
Trail hours: sunrise to sunset.

A permanent dog ban went into affect at Cholla Trail July 1, 2016. The dog ban is in response to citizen request and public survey results; the ban was approved by the City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation Board.