10 Tips for Hiking Camelback Mountain in Scottsdale
The peak of Scottsdale hiking is a mountain well known by locals. Camelback Mountain is 2704 feet tall and can clearly be seen while driving throughout this region. This hike isn’t easy but it is possible for everyone to achieve. There are two different trails that can be taken to the top of this mountain. I will go over both of these later on in this blog. You will be amazed by the 360 views of Scottsdale and the surrounding area from up here.
In this guide, I will go over how to get to Camelback Mountain trailhead, the difference between the 2 trails, as well as a handful of tips that will be good to know before you head up the mountain.
Where is Camelback Moutain Located?
Located slightly Northwest of downtown Scottsdale, the parking lot is only a 15-minute drive away. It is actually a lot closer than many other hikes in the area. This makes it an easy day trip and something that will only take up part of your day. Hiking Camelback Mountain can be straightforward for some, but the heat can be a factor depending on what time of the year you do it.
How Long Does it Take to Hike Camelback Mountain?
This greatly depends on your level of fitness and the time of year you hike. Another huge factor in how long this hike takes is which trail you take up. Echo Canyon trail and Cholla trail are the two you will choose from. The average time to complete this out & back tail is around 2 hours. The heat can play a huge factor in this as well. Hiking Camelback Mountain in the summer is not recommended unless you are prepared.
Phoenix to Camelback Mountain in Scottsdale
Downtown Phoenix has a lot to offer like plenty of restaurants and big events like watching an MLB game at the Arizona Diamondbacks stadium. If you are staying here then I will give the detailed directions to Camelback Mountain Trailhead below.
Directions to Camelback Mountain Trailhead
From Phoenix, you will want to make your way to I-10 going east. Stay on this for 2.2 miles until you see exits 147-A and B. Keep left and continue on for another couple of miles.
Take exit 2 for 40th street towards 44th street. Continue North on this road for another couple of miles until you take a right on Mcdonald Dr. From here follow the signs to the Echo Canyon Trailhead.
Best Places to Stay in Scottsdale, Arizona
- Fairmount Scottsdale Princess: If you’re looking for a romantic getaway with your loved one, this is the place for you.
- Holiday inn Express: This is your traditional hotel at a good price. Breakfast is included.
- Scottsdale Plaza Resort & Villas: If you want a mixture of decently priced and a resort, then this is the top place.
Best Time of the Year to Visit Scottsdale
The best time to visit Scottsdale and the surrounding areas of Phoenix in Arizona is either in the Spring or Fall months. This is when the temperatures are much cooler. If you were to go in the summer, then you could see temps get as high as 120 degrees.
If you want to enjoy your vacation then I suggest going in October. That has been my favorite month of my time living here.
My Suggested Hiking Gear
Below is a list of some of my favorite hiking/travel gear that I bring with me everywhere. Everything below is something I currently use and never leave my house without.
- KEEN Durand II Mid Waterproof Hiking Boots: I finally upgraded my hiking boots in 2022 and these are fantastic. They have top-notch ankle support and are super durable.
- Petzl Tikka Headlamp: A headlamp for hiking is a must if you’re like me and love sunrise hikes. This is a great price for a quality headlamp and also has a good red light to not disturb others in the morning.
- Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew Cushion Socks: I originally got these as a present but I had to buy more because these are the most comfortable hiking socks I’ve ever tried on.
- Grayl GeoPress Water Filter Bottle: You will never have to rebuy plastic water bottles. This is the best water filtering device on the market. It is excellent for hikers and travelers alike.
Camelback Mountain Hike Details
- Distance: This hike is around a 2.5-mile out & back trail. This varies slightly depending on if you do the entire hike or not.
- Duration: On average it will take people 2.5 hours to finish. This depends on your fitness level and the time of the year as well as which trail you take.
- Difficulty: I’d rank this hike as moderate to difficult because of the length, slight elevation gain, and potential heat.
- Incline: The elevation for this hike is around 1,420 feet.
- Hiking Guide: A guide is not needed for this hike and is easily accessible by the public.
If you want to learn more about this hike as well as read reviews from others then you can check it out on Alltrails.
10 Tips When Hiking Camelback Mountain in Scottsdale
This is by far the most popular hike in the area. It is challenging but well worth the effort in my opinion. If you want to hike something easier then I suggest you check out hikes such as Pinnacle Peak, Sunrise Peak, and Tom’s Thumb.
In this next section, I will go over some helpful tips when hiking to the top of Camelback Mountain. When I hiked it, the Cholla trail was closed. Our only option was to take the Echo Canyon trail. Most of the photos will be from that trail but I will also give information about the Cholla trail.
1. Get an Early Start
My suggestion for almost any hike is the earlier start, the better. This is the best way to beat the crowds and to beat the heat (especially for Phoenix). The parking lot will be the most full around 11 or noon. Getting here early will help with finding a parking spot. With fewer people on the trail and at the peak, the experience while hiking Camelback Mountain in Scottsdale will be increased.
2. Choose the Correct Trail at Camelback Mountain
When looking up information about Camelback Mountain in Scottsdale, you may come across 2 different trail names. There is Echo Canyon Trail, which is the one I took, and Cholla Trail. I will go over the details between both trails but even though Echo Canyon is half a mile shorter, it is the harder of the two. I will go over both in more detail below.
Echo Canyon Trail
Echo Canyon starts up a winding trail that will lead you straight to a steep incline of rocks. You will know you’re here when there is a very tall fence to your left and hand railings to hold onto. This is where the hike begins its steep incline and doesn’t stop until you get to the peak.
I view this as more adventurous but others, may not enjoy it as much. This trail is 2.5 miles in total.
Cholla trail re-opened in October after being closed for maintenance. This trail is 3 miles out & back but it is considered easier than its counterpart. The grade % of elevation is not high at parts of Echo Canyon. If you don’t think you can make it up the rock climbing section, then my suggestion would be to take the Cholla Trail instead.
3. Bring Plenty of Water
A tip that I hope nobody forgets to do when completing this hike is to bring enough water. During the summer months, temperatures can reach upwards of 110 degrees. With there being practically zero covers along the entire hike, water is extremely important when completing Camelback Mountain.
4. Wear the Proper Shoes
Especially if you are taking the Echo Canyon Trail instead of the Cholla trail, your choice of shoes is vital. You want something with a good grip when trying to climb these steep sections. A higher boot will protect your ankles as well when you twist them by accident. And trust me, this saves you more time than you realize.
5. Put on Sunscreen
As I mentioned previously, there will be a lot of fun along the trail. It is not fun to come back after an enjoyable day out hiking to your skin being burnt. Bring your sunscreen with you as well because you will be sweating a lot.
6. Take Your Time
This isn’t a race. You are here to experience the wonderful scenery and area you are hiking through. When getting to the top, sit back and take your time. If you are feeling tired, don’t be worried about stopping. Everyone along the trail is at a different fitness level. Enjoy Camelback Mountain.
7. Bring Salty Snacks
While hiking in the heat, you will be sweating a lot and losing sodium. This is where salty snacks come in handy. You will want to replenish the lost sodium and in return, you will have increased performance. Some popular snacks are trail mix, chips, and protein bars.
8. Stay on the Trail
I don’t want to sound like I’m parenting you but staying on the trail for most hikes, especially this one is important. There have been many accidents and hikers have had to be rescued from the mountain. Stay on the trail and do not venture off.
9. Keep an Eye Out for Animals
The reality is that we are in someone else’s territory. Along the hike, you will have many chances to see this area’s unique wildlife such as many reptiles. Keep your eyes peeled for all kinds of animals. I’m sure if someone else sees something, they will point it out for you.
10. Enjoy Your Time at the Top
For some, like myself, reaching the peak is the main reason for doing the hike. I’m a sucker for a good view and that’s why I like to relax up top and take it all in. There is nothing better in this world than just finishing a grueling hike up to a beautiful peak while eating some lunch.
Take your time and enjoy Camelback Mountain in Scottsdale.
Other Activities to do in Scottsdale, AZ
Scottsdale has blown up in tourism over the last handful of years. It is currently ranked as a top destination in the country for bachelorette parties. With that being said, there is still something in the area for everyone. If I’m not hiking, then the hot air balloon flight with champagne would be a top choice of mine. Below are some highly ranked activities in the area of Phoenix and Scottsdale.
Final Thoughts on Hiking Camelback Mountain in Scottsdale
This is the primer hike in the area. Everyone loves doing this hike and some do it multiple times a year. There’s a reason for it. The trail is very unique in that it’s challenging but very rewarding. There is no better way to see the area you are visiting than from a bird’s eye view. Overall I highly suggest doing this hike when visiting the area.
Thank you for reading my guide to Camelback Mountain in Scottsdale. I hope the tips will be helpful when making your ascent to the top.