Caption: A view of Camelback Mountain and the praying monk
The mountain's summit trail and parking area at Echo are closed through the end of 2013 for a major improvement project.
Please review our Camelback improvement project webpage for details and updates.
Even with this popular summit trail closed for renovation, there are still more than 180 miles of trails in Phoenix for hiking. For a quick reference list of alternate summit climbs, check out the Phoenix Summit Challenge webpage. North Mountain offers challenging elevation gain, sweeping valley views from the summit, ample parking, convenient access off of 7th Street, and a smooth wide trail with no hiker backups. Our Trails and Desert Preserves pages offer detailed information on all of Phoenix's renowned hiking areas including South Mountain, Lookout Mountain and the Sonoran Preserve.
Echo Canyon Trailhead and Summit Trail are closed through the end of 2013
For improvement project updates, please call (480) 281-1506.
Park Ranger Office: (602) 261-8318
Administrative Office (regular business hours): (602) 495-5458
Sheer red sandstone cliffs and its telltale hump draw thousands of hikers to Camelback Mountain each year. Camelback is one of the busiest area's in the city's trail system and parking is very limited. If you're hiking with friends, plan on meeting elsewhere and carpooling to the trailhead.
The summit of Camelback Mountain is at 2,704 feet above sea level. The mountain's two summit trails gain approximately 1,200 feet in elevation.
During the late 1800s, the federal government reserved Camelback Mountain for an Indian reservation. By the 1940s, however, almost the entire mountain fell into private hands and remained so for most of the next two decades. Efforts on the county, state and federal level to restrict development above the 1,600-feet level largely were unsuccessful, including failed efforts in 1963-64 in the state Legislature to arrange land exchanges.
In 1965, the Preservation of Camelback Mountain Foundation led by Barry Goldwater, spearheaded community efforts to save as much of the summit as possible. This effort ultimately succeeded and was capped of by a ceremony in 1968 marking a land exchange that President Lyndon Johnson and Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall attended.
Geology, flora and fauna
The “head” of Camelback Mountain, which comprises the area of Echo Canyon Recreation Area, is made up of layered sandstone. The hump primarily is composed of granite that, in geologic terms, is much older than the sedimentary rock that makes up the head section of the mountain. Because it's surrounded by residential development, large mammals are not normally found in the park. Smaller animals typical of the Sonoran Desert populate the park including cottontail rabbits, snakes, lizards, Harris antelope squirrels as well as a variety of birds. Rattlesnakes are common on the trail. If you see one, allow it space and time to escape. Plant species are typical of those found in the lower Sonoran Desert and include saguaro, barrel, hedgehog, pincushion, jumping cholla, christmas, staghorn, cholla and prickly pear cacti. Tree species include palo verde, mesquite and ironwood, along with the ocotillo plant.