Camelback Mountain is one of my favorite memories of my time in Phoenix, even though the story begins with “That time my boss tried to kill me, the other intern, and the new guy.”
Here’s some background: Cammelback is the tallest peak in Phoenix at 2,704 feet. There are two trail options – steep (Cholla Trail) and steeper (Echo Canyon Trail). The Echo Canyon Trail is steep to the point there are two sections with hand railings; plus there’s a section I would call more of a scramble than a hike. The trail is completely exposed to the sun and temperatures regularly exceed 115 degrees in the summer. The parking lot is small and fills quickly.
As soon as my boss found out that I enjoyed hiking (about day 2 of my internship) he told me I had to hike Camelback Mountain. My response was “Um, aren’t they currently searching for someone that went missing on that mountain?” A couple weeks later my response changed to “That guy died on that mountain! I’m not hiking it by myself!”
So at the end of July my boss, his daughter, me, the other intern, and the new hire all found ourselves on top of Camelback Mountain sweating, panting, and taking in the stunning view. We hiked the Echo Canyon Trail as the sun came up; I have yet to find another trail that is as brutally steep, but it was so worth it.
Here are my tips for hiking Camelback Mountain:
- Hike during the week; if you can’t hike it during the week, be at the parking lot when the gate opens (sunrise).
- Bring a ton of water.
- Start early to beat the heat. It can reach over 100 degrees by 8 AM.
- Wear gloves to protect your hands from the rocks during the scrabble section, also the railings can get hot from the sun hitting them.
- Wear sunscreen.
- Bring snacks.
- Stay on the trail! (The man who died that year, had gone off trail and fallen off a cliff.)
To learn more about Camelback Mountain and it’s regulations visit the official website by clicking here.