Camelback Mountain is the most popular mountain to hike in the Phoenix area for good reasons. It’s a fun challenging hike from either side, with good views of the Phoenix area, and entertaining to compare its profile to a napping camel. There are two popular routes up this dromedary. This route on the Echo Canyon Trail is the shorter, but steeper route of the two.
Getting to the Trailhead
From Phoenix, get on highway 51 going North. Take exit 5 toward Lincoln Drive. Turn right onto E Glendale Ave, continue for about 4 miles, then turn right onto Tatum Blvd. Go half a mile on Tatum, then turn left onto E McDonald Drive. In just a few hundred feet you’ll come to a traffic circle and see the parking lot entrance on the right. Get turn-by-turn directions on Google Maps.
There is a parking attendant and gate, but parking is free. The large parking area does fill up fast, so make sure you get there early to snag a spot. Park in an available space, make sure you have plenty of water, and continue up to the top of the parking lot to find the trailhead. There are restrooms and water at the trailhead.
Hiking Camelback Mountain via Echo Canyon
The trail begins from the top of the parking lot, just beyond the restrooms and benches. An easy incline at first, the path passes a smaller rock formation, then approaches the base of a larger one known as the “Praying Monk”. If you look up from the trail, you may see roped-up rock climbers scaling the face above you. And if you turn around and look the other way, you can see Piestewa Peak rising up behind you.
As you curve around the base of the rockface, the trail flattens, then goes nearly vertical! Fortunately there are railings and a fence to help, and there are steps worn in if you pick a good line.
At the top of the excitingly steep section, the trail mellows again. You’ll soon pass the half-mile marker and wonder how you’ve only gone that far.
From here it’s a steady climb in the wash with some steep steps and light boulder-hopping.
There is a small dip just before the one mile mark, then the trail rises steady and even steeper as it nears the summit. It’s easy to get a little off track in the last section – just keep looking for the path of least resistance.
The trail makes one final bend to the left as it leads you to the top! Take in the awesome 360 degree view of the valley, with Piestewa closeby to the northwest. But make sure you pay attention to which way you came up – it’s easy to mistakenly go down the wrong trail. When you are done soaking in the views, return down the way you came up.
Camelback Mountain via Echo Canyon Trail Map & Elevation Profile
Camelback Mountain Hiking Resources
- Overview of the Camelback Mountain Trails from Phoenix Parks and Recreation. Best resource for the latest information on closures, maintenance and other official notices.
- Visit Phoenix’ guide to Camelback Mountain
- Please #RecreateResponsibly and Leave No Trace
Arizona Six-Pack of Peaks Challenge – Winter Edition
This hike is part of the Arizona Six-Pack of Peaks Challenge – Winter Edition. This self-paced hiking challenge includes six hikes all easily reached from the great Phoenix metropolitan area. They are a great way to explore the area, train for bigger adventures, and you’ll be doing good, with a portion of the net proceeds going to non-profits that help get youth outdoors.