So you’re ready to conquer the KING of all trails in Phoenix? Hiking Camelback Mountain is one of the TOP trails in Phoenix, but there are things you need to know before hitting the trail. Here’s what you need to know about Camelback Mountain’s Echo Canyon Trail.
Camelback Mountain is located right in the middle of the Phoenix Valley in Paradise Valley. What’s really cool about Camelback Mountain’s location is that you can see the mountain’s silhouette from almost every direction throughout the Valley. Whatever direction you’re arriving from, head toward Echo Canyon Pkwy and turn into the main entrance. You can either be dropped off at the drop-off roundabout or park in the parking lot.
PARKING TIP: The parking lot fills up FAST, and sometimes there’s quite a large wait to park. I highly suggest taking a Uber or having someone drop you off if you aren’t arriving early in the morning.
Camelback Mountain’s main trail, Echo Canyon Trail, is rated extremely difficult and strenuous. It’s definitely NOT a beginner or easy trail, so make sure you’re physically and mentally ready for this hike. Unfortunately, there are people who think they can hike it and end up hurt. It’s always important to know your limits and don’t underestimate any trail.
Hiking Camelback Mountain can be dangerous if you’re not properly prepared. The trail is rated very difficult and has terrains that are quite tricky. And depending on what time of year you’re hiking, you could also encounter rattlesnakes or swarms of bees. Rattlers make their appearance during the Spring when the weather starts to warm up, so stay alert! There always needs to be an awareness of the elements throughout the entire hike.
The hike generally takes between 2-3 hours. Of course, this depends on your level as a hiker. It took us 1 ½ hours to reach the summit of Camelback Mountain with many stops for water breaks, photos and videos. Being our first time hiking the mountain, there were many people passing us along the way. It took us another hour on our return route back down the trail, so it was 2 ½ hours in total.
When it comes to hiking Camelback Mountain, the best times to hike during the summer (late May-early September) are early in the morning hours before the sun peaks or during the early evening hours around sunset. Throughout the winter months (October-March), hiking anytime during the day is fine except for rainy days. The Spring months of April and May are also nice hiking months, but the weather is already starting to warm up, so always check the temperatures before heading out.
If anyone were to ask me if the Camelback Mountain hike is kid-friendly, I would definitely say no. That being said, when we were hiking, we did see a fair amount of kids hiking with their parents. So it honestly depends on the level of your child. Some children have been hiking since they started walking and others are just beginning. The hike is rated extremely difficult, so keep them in mind when contemplating taking your kids along.
Now that you’re ready to hit the trail, let’s go over what you can expect on the hike. It’s one of the most popular hiking trails in Phoenix, so no matter what time of day you go, there will undoubtedly be many other hikers making the trek with you.
The hike is broken up into 3 sections:
Once you’ve surmounted all three sections, there’s just a short trail left up to the very top. And after you hit the top, you will literally be on top of the Phoenix Valley! The views are nothing short of SPECTACULAR!
I’m sure that everyone has plenty of tips when it comes to hiking, but here are some tips I wish I would have known before the big hike.
There’s only one sufficient answer to this question, and it’s an astounding YES! Hiking Camelback Mountain is TOTALLY worth it! If it’s your first time, yes it will be hard. And yes, you’ll feel it in the next couple of days. It might even be the most challenging hike you’ve ever accomplished, but you won’t regret a minute of it! For me, it came up as a tie for the most challenging hike I have ever completed (with Pedra da Gávea in Rio de Janeiro), but the feeling of triumph was one of those “pinch myself” moments. Proudest Arizona hiking moment of my life!
Looking for more hiking trails in Phoenix, Arizona? Check out our guide: The Best Hikes for Every Hiking Level in Phoenix.