Camelback Mountain

Rocky entrance to cholla trailhead

Cholla Trailhead
6131 E. Cholla Ln.

Echo Canyon Trailhead
4925 E. McDonald Dr.

Trailhead & Trail Hours:

Sunrise to Sunset

Contact Information:

Ranger Office: 602-261-8318
Gatehouse: 602-534-5867

Contact Natural Resource staff regarding resource management at desert preserves or call 602-261-8318



Trail Restrictions for Dogs - Dogs prohibited on trail when temperature is 100° or warmer4Trail Restrictions for Dogs - Dogs prohibited on trail when temperature is 100° or warmer<div class="ExternalClass2CC0A0158ABE4807B10863919E4E57EB"><p>Dogs are prohibited on <strong>ALL</strong> city of Phoenix hiking trails when the temperature is 100 degrees or warmer. </p><p><a href="" target="_blank">Learn how to keep your pets safe during warm weather months.</a></p></div>5/3/2017 7:00:00 AM8/1/2017 7:00:00 AM
Heat Advisory3Heat Advisory<div class="ExternalClass0B12337F359B4FDC8525C8706510E9B5"><p>Triple-digit heat is in the forecast for the Phoenix area. City of Phoenix Park Rangers advise not hiking during these weather conditions and ask that you always follow these life-saving <a href="/parkssite/Documents/Take%20a%20Hike%20-%20Do%20it%20Right.pdf" target="_blank">"Take a Hike. Do it Right."</a> safety guidelines.</p><p>Monitor the <a href="" target="_blank">local forecast</a> and understand that all<a href="/parkssite/Documents/Trail%20Rating%20Guide.pdf" target="_blank"> trail difficulty ratings</a> are raised one level when the temperature is 100 degrees or warmer.<br></p></div>5/3/2017 7:00:00 AM8/31/2017 7:00:00 AM

Camelback Mountain is regularly ranked one of the nation's top hiking destinations for avid hikers. The range consists of two main trails, Echo Canyon Trail and Cholla Trail; both of which are rated Extremely Difficult and subject hikers to steep elevation gains, very rugged terrain, and the harsh elements associated with the Sonoran Desert. We ask that only experienced hikers with adequate preparation, during optimal weather, attempt to hike to the summit. For hikers that adhere to the "Take a Hike. Do it Right" recommendations, the payoff is a picturesque view from the Camelback Mountain summit (2,704 feet above sea level) which grants unmatched views of the valley.

Camelback gets it's name from the unique silhouette it casts on the valley's skyline. The “head” of Camelback Mountain, where Echo Canyon Trailhead is located, is made up of relatively soft layered sandstone. The "humps" are primarily composed of much harder, and older, granite. Contrasting rates of erosion have created the dramatic camel-like slopes.


Camelback Mountain Important Notices:

Dog Restrictions:

Dogs are prohibited at all Camelback Mountain trails.

Parking Restrictions at Cholla Trailhead:

Public parking is limited at Cholla Trailhead.  There are several small areas in which parallel parking in permitted, however the majority of the roadways near the trailhead do not permit parking of any kind.  It is strongly recommended that all parking signs be respected; vehicles will be towed at the owners expense.

Parking and Traffic Alert for Echo Canyon:

During winter and ​​​spring months, Echo Canyon experiences EXTREMELY high visitation. The parking lot will typically fill up from late morning through early afternoon and remain full throughout the day on weekends. When the park reaches capacity the entry gate will be closed. Hikers cannot idle vehicles on McDonald Drive and Tatum Boulevard to wait for the gates to reopen.  Police will ticket hikers who idle their cars on McDonald and will tow vehicles parked illegally on the street.

Helpful Hints to Avoid Parking Issues:

  • Bike to the trailheads. If you can, consider bringing a bike in your vehicle, parking in a public parking area within a few miles of the park and biking to the trailhead. There are 17 bike lock racks that can accommodate at least 34 bikes at one time.

  • Consider another hiking location, especially on weekends and during peak hiking season through April. We have many great summit climbs that offer a solid workout without the crushing crowds of Camelback. North Mountain, South Mountain, Lookout Mountain and the Sonoran Preserve offer challenging hikes and summit climbs. 

  • Avoid the area on weekends. During winter and spring months, weekend traffic is heavy throughout the day and traffic and gate closures are possible at all times.

  • Carpool whenever possible. When meeting friends to hike at Camelback Mountain, always meet off site and travel to the trailheads in a single vehicle.

  • Try a less busy time on weekdays. Early afternoons tend to be the least busy times during weekdays.

  • Try returning 15-20 minutes later. You can NOT idle in nearby neighborhoods or circle on nearby streets

Take a hike, do it right logo

Trails rating guide

*Please add an additional level of difficulty during seasons with warm temperatures.

Additional History and Area Information:

Initially part of the Indian reservation, Camelback Mountain saw increased encroachment from private development until the 1960's. The Preservation of Camelback Mountain Foundation, led by Barry Goldwater, helped to ensure the areas protection in 1968. However much of the mountain was already surrounded by residential development, limiting the number of large mammals found in the park to this day. Smaller animals including cottontail rabbits, lizards, Harris antelope squirrels, a variety of birds, and of course snakes (including venomous rattlesnakes) are regularly encountered. Hike with caution and watch where you step!

Plant species present here 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.