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Camelback Summit - Echo Canyon TH, AZ

no permit
983 1.8k 15
Guide 1,765 Triplogs Laps 15 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Phoenix Central
3.8 of 5 by 151
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Popular Workout
Difficulty 3.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 2.3 miles
Trailhead Elevation 1,400 feet
Elevation Gain 1,300 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,300 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 1.5 - 2 hour
Kokopelli Seeds 8.8
Interest Peak
Backpack No
Dogs not allowed
Fastest Split Dave1
2011-04-1936m 46s
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Author joebartels
author avatar Guides 213
Routes 824
Photos 10,825
Trips 4,256 map ( 21,429 miles )
Age 49 Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
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Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Nov, Dec, Feb, Mar → Early
Seasons   Autumn
Sun  6:12am - 6:32pm
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6 Alternative
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by joebartels

Hiking jewel of the desert, Camelback is wedged between the cities of the Valley. This conveniently located hike is one of my favorites. Enjoy your first few trips on the mountain. As soon you may turn into one of the numerous speed hikers that blaze this difficult trail day after day.

Approaching the Echo Canyon trailhead from McDonald Drive offers spectacular views! The parking area is very limited considering the location of this hike. Expect to wait in line for a parking space if you come within three hours of sundown. Summer temperatures get well over a 110 degrees. Personally I enjoy and excel in the summer heat. Keep in mind this is a very dangerous situation if you are new to hiking. Every summer I see folks in serious trouble because they come unprepared. If you plan on hiking this trail during the hot months be careful and bring plenty of water.

I have been hiking Camelback and Piestewa Peak for years. Throughout the years the subject of chit chat along the trail remains the same. Somebody is usually talking about their best time up or asking you the same. Many debate if Camelback or Piestewa is tougher. The Echo Canyon Summit Trail is only slightly longer than the Piestewa Peak Summit Trail. The trail itself is very different. Piestewa Peak is easier on the knees with shorter steps but the trail is extremely jagged in sections. Camelback is smoother with large boulders and less defined in some areas. Lack of parking helps thin out the crowds.

From the trailhead a 2014 reroute leads up to the first saddle. It follows the natural contours and is easy on your knees. Be on the lookout for sprinters coming down. Nasty falls along this stretch do occur. I should probably mention running like a wild goose on any trail is not recommended. Beautiful views to the east unfold at the saddle. Prime viewing is just before sunrise. From first saddle, the trail turns a sharp right, south. Hiking along a massive undercut wall beside you, a microhabitat is passed. The shaded environment supports vegetation such as resurrection plant and thick grasses. After another small series of railroad tie steps the most difficult section is encountered. Two consecutive steep slopes must be conquered. Pipe handrails and chains are in place to assist. The first, also steeper, slope gets easier with practice. Soon after the handrails you'll encounter a steep gully. It's a short scramble up. Next comes a peaceful valley with a moderate incline. This section contains loose gravel, called the "Ball Bearings" by many hikers. Although I have never brought a thermometer up here, this always seems to be the hottest place on earth. A lucky few might catch a deep blue skyline here during sunset. A few short zig zags around the terrain brings you to the never ending ascent. The trail scrambles in areas of boulder lined gullies. Most likely there will be other hikers to follow, so there's no need to worry about getting lost. Once you have reached the summit, take time to look around. From the summit you can see several mountains and mountain ranges. The north northeast area has a spectacular sheer drop you can look straight down.

Beware, this trail is very addictive. I hiked Camelback nearly everyday in 1997-98. Sometimes up to three times consecutive. My best time up and down was 46:11, which seemed fast to me. Then again I know others blow that time away. This hike is most enjoyable with a time around 70 minutes. I have taken numerous first timers on this hike. First timers average just under two hours round trip. Keep in mind the Echo Canyon parking area closes early.

Spring of 1998 the Cholla Trail on the the east end of Camelback reopened. This is a great alternative when the Echo Canyon parking lot is full. This trail approaches the summit from the opposite side of the mountain. The trail itself is rather different and offers great views along the ridgeline.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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1999-01-01 joebartels
    WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

    Most recent of 129 deeper Triplog Reviews
    Camelback Summit - Echo Canyon TH
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    afternoon workout hike
    parking available in upper lot at 2:45 and 3:45
    ranger said it would be crowded, but it just wasn't that bad
    anytime there are upper spaces, it's been tolerable
    that is if you like audible music and seeing captain speedo :o :lol:
    always a good workout

    Camelback Summit - Echo Canyon TH
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Whacky busy thanks to Social Media. Ooops reverse-psychology like-me fail, it's always been 500 times busier than Bajada & Los Lomitas trails.

    Followed by a drone for what seemed like eternity... two minutes.
    Rushed home to start a Go Fund Me for my brilliant idea Drone Jammer. Albeit too expensive for most, plenty already available. If you thought people jumped off the deep end about drones, thick personalities in the jammer hater crowd. :o
    Drones are regulated like aircraft and it's against the law for anyone to interfere with aircraft, even the police. joy joy :lol:
    Camelback Summit - Echo Canyon TH
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    afternoon workout hike
    parking report: 3-4 spaces available in both upper and lower at 2:30, surprisingly 10-12 open at 3:30 upper with lower full
    crowd report: wasn't that bad - one gaggle of loud girls, a few people in bad shoes, everyone was chill, lots didn't summit
    christmas tree report: it's back - not a fan, not a hater, just pack it out
    hike report: didn't time it; there's no point right now. cool temps

    Camelback Summit - Echo Canyon TH
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    After Piestewa 2 times yesterday I thought this would be nice. It was cold in the shade on the hike up, but really nice on top in the sun. After the cold front, the air around the state is really clear, so visibility was high. Very nice. Lots of tourists on this, if that bothers you.
    Camelback Summit - Echo Canyon TH
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    afternoon workout hike
    did not time it, just wanting to get back in the groove
    upper lot was 3/4 full at 2:30, full at 3:30
    lower lot had plenty of spaces at 3:30
    trail was not too crowded - still tolerable
    saw a guy i work with
    the christmas tree has not been erected yet :?
    would like to get back to doing this on a regular basis, but i've said that before

    Camelback Summit - Echo Canyon TH
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Old man @skatchkins would have been in total disgust this morning. Yoga butt city to the extreme :y:
    Could have done without the Bride Tribe taking up valuable yoga parking ](*,)
    Camelback Summit - Echo Canyon TH
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    World class inspiration heading up. As figured the rails slowed me down. Continuing up was fine. Just can't bounce off rocks. The summit was a sea of giggles in blue shirts... LA Dodger fans.

    Descending was demoralizing. Bats fly blind and I can't judge the distance between boulder hops. Taping the paralyzed eye closed like I do to sleep might cut the tedious descent crawl in half. The silver lining was chatting with a never ending supply of inspiration.

    36m up
    1h 9m down
    Camelback Summit - Echo Canyon TH
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Last hike of 37. Did it in the later afternoon, in the heat which was OK, but also the dirty air which wasn't hard to breathe in, but was pretty obvious when looking around the valley on the summit. Timed things just right, and watched a really nice red sun set over the White Tanks from the last section of trail.
    Camelback Summit - Echo Canyon TH
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    afternoon workout hike
    this was hard, with the dew point over 70
    no one else on the summit, and only two people between the summit and the stairs on the way down
    ranger coming up said that people don't like to hike when it's this humid
    saw the banana hammock man :o
    if only i could unsee it
    saw one chuckwalla
    stopped for a mango slurpee on the way home :)
    Camelback Summit - Echo Canyon TH
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    I was really surprised how few were out on this when I started at just after 4:15. Virtually no one. I had the summit to myself for a few minutes, too. I went out to hike CB once more before the extreme heat comes in, 110+ after Thursday, but I guess most of the fair weather crowd that would be here just 2 or 3 months ago is already gone. Just as well. Really nice with only middle 90s, and the air was pretty clean, too.

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    Paved - Car Okay

    To Echo Canyon Trailhead
    In Phoenix follow 44th St. North. 44th St. turns into McDonald. Follow McDonald to first Right past Tatum, which is Echo Canyon Place. Turn right, go up the hill and good luck finding a parking space in the tiny lot. On Spring and Fall weekends your best choice is bicycling to the trailhead. Otherwise, be prepared to drive in circles up to a half hour for a parking slot as waiting is not allowed.

    From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 10.4 mi - about 18 mins
    From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 112 mi - about 1 hour 44 mins
    From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 144 mi - about 2 hours 12 mins
    2+ mi range whistle
    blow it like you mean it
    help comment issue

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