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Facts On The Popular Camelback Mountain Hike In Phoenix
"Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-criticized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity" -John Muir
If you are visiting the Phoenix area or are even a local and haven’t checked out the Camelback Mountain hike yet, then it is finally time. Well, that is for the more active individuals who think they can do a moderately hard hike. Considered as a “must-do” for anyone who wants to see the view of the Phoenix valley. Not only that, but you will get the chance to experience Earth’s driest biome and see some of the flora that calls this desert landscape, home.
Camelback Mountain is composed of a combination of different particles. Look at the “hump” portion of the camel, well, that would be mostly granite and was created underground by volcanic activity which took place a long time ago. Alternatively, the head portion is composed of sedimentary rock. The “Praying Monk” is another feature located on the west facing side of Camelback Mountain. Above all, enjoy yourself and here’s your facts on the Camelback Mountain hike.
A Quick Educational Guide
Without a doubt, there is a nerd that is hiding within you, so greetings and I present to you a guide on what you might see. Yay! You know you will be curious on what plants you see or what type of rock you curse as you stumble over it. So enjoy the read and it’s awesome of you for deciding to tackle the popular Camelback Mountain hike.
- Granite: This is a hard rock that was formed slowly when magma crystallized under the surface of the Earth. This slow cooling allows for larger crystals to form, or otherwise known as Igneous rocks. Granite rocks are composed of mostly Quartz and Feldspar. A few other smaller minerals are mixed in as well, like mica. It is the most widely used rock for humans everyday life from structures to what we walk on.
- Popular Landscapes Made From Granite: Mount Rushmore, Yosemite Valley, Pikes Peak, and the White Mountains.
- Sedimentary Rock: These rocks are made from the accumulation of different minerals (particles) that eventually are cemented together. The main ones that were formed here are Sandstone and Conglomerate type rocks.
- Cactus: There will be about 6 different species of cacti you will encounter as you hike. A few of the more popular or frequent ones is the Saguaro, Teddy Bear Cholla, and the Barrel Cactus. A reminder, just because a cactus has a cute name dose not mean it is harmless.
- Birds: Many birds call this area home, but a few you can look out for are the Peregrine Falcon, Great-Horned Owls, Rock Wrens, Anna’s Hummingbirds, Gila Woodpeckers , Mourning Doves, and the very small Verdin.
- Mammals: Most likely you will only see the Harris’s Antelope Squirrel or the Audubon’s Cottontail bunnies. What you might see is the Canis iatrans, or otherwise known as the Coyote.
- Trees/Shrubs: As you hike, you may see the Creosote Bush, the Desert Lavender, Desert Ironwood tree, the Desert Mistletoe, and the Chuparosa.
Camelback Mountain Hike Facts
Elevation Gain: 2,707 feet (825 m)
Fee or Permit: Free and no permit needed
Parking Lot Hours: sunrise to sunrise
Dog Friendly: Not allowed
Official Website: Always check beforehand to see if trail is open Camelback Mountain
Park Phone Number: 602-261-8318
Bobby Rock Loop
Looking to enjoy the area of Camelback, but are smart and know that there is no way you will ever make it to the top? Trust me is can be hard. So in this case, try Booby Rock Loop instead. A modest hike around the lower portion of Camelback is what will greet you.
It is rated moderate for a reason. Expect a few steep areas, loose gravel, and unfortunately not very good trail markings. No shade will be present on this trail, so only hike it during proper weather conditions.
Elevation Gain: 183 feet
Trail Length: Roundtrip is 1.1 miles
Difficulty Level: Moderate
Estimated Time: 30-45 mins
Permit Needed: No
Directions: Located at the North Echo Trailhead area. If you are coming from the South, then take 44th street North towards Paradise Valley. Turn right onto E. McDonald Drive and turn right onto N. Echo Parkway, towards the parking area.
Echo Canyon Trailhead
This is one of the two trailheads that will lead you to the summit. Bad news, both sides are steep in places and are difficult. Some think the Echo is harder to hike than the Cholla. If you of heard of the portion where you “climb up with the help of the rail”, then it is Echo Trail you are on.
Start off at the Echo Trailhead, north of Camelback. The first 3/8 of a mile will be marked and can be steep in some parts. The path is dirt and can have parts that are slippery, with loose dirt or sand, so take your time. Continuing on, you will encounter the rail portion next. If it is busy then you should wait for the others to come down before you use it. There are some groves in the rock you can use to help as you climb.
Once you made it past the rail, you will need to keep hiking grandly up, where you will have some smaller boulders to navigate over. Don’t be surprised to see another rail, which will help you to continue upward. Finally, the last 0.7 miles of the hike will have you climbing over boulders and up steep rocks. Families with kids that able to climb are able to make it to the top, so if you’re in good shape then you can do it.
Elevation Gain: about 1,280 feet
Trail Length: 1.23 miles to the summit
Difficulty Level: Hard
Estimated Time: 2-3 hours (45 mins for those people that are freakishly fast at running the trail)
Permit Needed: No
Directions: Located at the North Echo Trailhead area. If you are coming from the South, then take 44th street North towards Paradise Valley. Turn right onto E. McDonald Drive and then another right onto N. Echo Parkway, towards the parking area.
Parking: Arrive early to get parking on the days when the weather is nice and the weekends.
As of this writing, this trailhead is currently closed for renovations still. After a 300 pound boulder injured a man in March of 2020 on the trail, it was deemed unsafe in areas and needed a new overhaul. The last portion, a new trail access point is being constructed off of Invergordon and 64th Street. An exact date for the reopening hasn’t been determined yet.
With a newly constructed trailhead, you will have access to a water fountain and bathroom facilities. The trail is moderate for the first mile and will include hiking up a dirt and loose gravel incline. Just follow the blue arrows up if you get confused on which way to go.
Once you hit the “saddle” portion, the rest becomes a harder hike. Do not wander off trail or try to climb up your own way. You will most likely either get hurt, have to be rescued or a combination of the both. After the saddle area on the Camelback Mountain hike, you will want to follow the ridge portion up, which will have many more rocks you will need to climb over. Many people use their hands to help steady or pull them up.
Now you will want to look for the yellow reflectors along with the blue arrows for the direction to go. Follow them up to the top where you will have a 360° view of the area. If you happen to be at the top during December, then you might see a Christmas tree.
Elevation Gain: 1,161 feet
Trail Length: Roundtrip is 2.6 miles
Difficulty Level: Hard
Estimated Time: 2-3 hours
Permit Needed: No
Directions: Located on the east portion of the mountain, on Cholla Lane. You can park on Invergordon Street and walk to the start of the trailhead. (The new trailhead will be located on Invergordon and 64th Street area.
Common Questions Answered
1.) How long will each side take?
Both hikes will be around 2.5 miles (4 km) and will take you about 2 to 3 hours. Certain people can do the trails in a quicker time frame and you will see most of these people trail running up the mountain. Some people can go up one side, down the other, and go back up again to end in their start position. Yeah, I think my friend is pretty crazy too! You know who you are.
2.) How difficult is the hike?
It is considered hard, even for those active hikers. Doesn’t mean I haven’t seen 70 year olds or young kids trekking past me as I huff and puff my way up. Just take it slow, wear appropriate clothing, take water, and stay on the trail.
3.) Which Side Of Camelback Is Easier?
This answer can depend on who you are asking, but most will confirm they think the Cholla Trail is a little easier than the Echo side. This is most likely due to the Echo side having steeper rock sections you have to navigate.
4.) Are There Any Snakes On Camelback?
Oh you bet there is! Will you see one? Most likely not and especially if you stay to the trail. Still, you should always use caution when hiking in the desert since we do have snakes and other animals. Some common snakes that call Camelback Mountain home are the Western Diamonback Rattlesnake, the Mojave Rattlesnake and the Sonoran Golfer Snake.
5.) It's Raining, Can I still Hike Camelback?
I would go with a hard no on this one. Since a good portion of the trail includes rocks and loose dirt, it can become very dangerous when it rains. What you should try to look out for is when it rains hard enough, a waterfall comes off of the monk area and is very beautiful.
6.) Why Is It Called Camelback Mountain?
Try standing from one of the southern areas in the city and look north to view Camelback Mountain. What you will see is a laying down camel with its head at the western portion, a hump that leads down into what is known as the “saddle”, and then finally ending towards the east.
Other Mountains Or Places Close By You Can Hike
Location Of Camelback Mountain Hike
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The information on this website has come from research and by experiencing it ourselves. Opening hours, closures, prices, etc. are always subject to change. We try to keep up to date on any new information, or tips to help make your adventure more enjoyable.
Always make sure to check all websites and other services before you go to see any new restrictions they haven place during Covid-19.