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Camelback Mountain is one of my favorite hikes in the Phoenix area, for the hike itself and the view achieved! Upon summiting Camelback Mountain, you will enjoy sweeping 360 degree views of the Phoenix Metropolitan area from your perch at 2,704 feet above sea level. That said, parking and the typically high volume of hikers can make this destination somewhat less desirable. If you have never done it before, this is definitely a great hike and you should do it! Of the two routes to the top, most people agree that this trail is the most challenging due to the steeper ascent. For purposes of visual aesthetics (and comfort from shade, pending the time of year) I recommend doing this trail in the afternoon/evening and the Cholla Trail at sunrise. If you are really hardcore, do them both with an over and back (5 miles total for an over and back, not including distance walked for parking)!


The hike itself is wonderful; great views of Paradise Valley and north Phoenix on your way up. This trail and trailhead were remodeled extensively and re-opened on January 15, 2014 (new area shown in the lower right of the picture above). It is a well used and well maintained trail! Going up and back on just the Echo Canyon Trail will earn you a 2.3 mile hiking workout, plus whatever distance you have to walk from where you parked (sometimes this can add quite a bit of distance!).

Parking will be your greatest challenge. There are only 132 parking spaces (yes, only 132…they fill up QUICK due to popularity of this hike). Even though it may be extremely tempting if the parking lot is full, don’t park anywhere it is designated “No Parking”. The police LOVE scouring this area and giving tickets. Don’t think they won’t! It is not out of the realm of possibilities to park legally elsewhere and grab a ride to the trailhead from Uber or a taxi.

Gear & Gadgets:

This is a relatively simple hike; make sure to wear seasonal appropriate attire, bring plenty of water, and possibly some snacks if you feel you will need some additional fuel along the way. If you prefer going over-prepared or need some additional guidance on what to bring, check out my Day Trip Gear Guide.

If you are going for a more deluxe experience, the top of Camelback Mountain can make for a great picnic at either breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Just make sure you don’t get mesmerized by the experience such that you get in trouble for being on the mountain after hours! The mountain is only open to hikers from sunrise to sunset.

Further Reading:

Leave No Trace Principles

Outdoors and Wilderness First Aid

City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation Website

Hike Arizona Website

About The Author

Jeremy Meek is a native Arizonan with a passion for adventure and discovery of unique experiences. Whether exploring Arizona or setting out on an adventure abroad, Jeremy is constantly scouting truly great adventures and experiences.

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