Located just 20 minutes from downtown Phoenix, Camelback Mountain is a Phoenix icon and popular outdoor destination for thousands of visiting hikers each year. Two difficult trailheads ascend 1,420 feet to a summit resembling the hump of a camel's back, affording 360-degree views of the surrounding city.
Trailhead hours: Sunrise to sunset
Both Echo Canyon Trail and Cholla Trail are rated extremely difficult, challenging hikers with exposed rock, strenuous climbs and sections of hand-over-hand climbing. Dogs are prohibited at all Echo Canyon and Cholla Trail areas.
Distance: 1.2 miles out-and-back
Trailhead: 4925 E McDonald Dr, Phoenix. This trailhead has restrooms, benches and water. The parking lot is busy and will typically remain full from early morning throughout the day on weekends
What to expect: This steep and rocky ascent requires assistance of handrails and climbing to reach the top, but the 360-degree views from the summit are worth it.
Distance: 1.5 miles out-and-back
Trailhead: 6131 E Cholla Ln, Paradise Valley. This trailhead does not have facilities or designated parking.
What to expect: Cholla Trail is a slightly longer and steadier climb than Echo Canyon, but that doesn't mean it's not tricky. Lower portions are easier to follow, but the last third of the climb is a challenging scramble over large boulders.
Just because summer has arrived doesn't mean Phoenix's desert preserves can't be enjoyed. But outdoor enthusiasts need to be smart and plan ahead. Remember these summertime tips:
Enjoy the outdoors early in the morning. Not only will it be about 20 degrees cooler in the early morning, but it's the best time to view desert critters that are most active at sunrise.
Drink water and lots of it. A good rule of thumb is to bring at least one liter of water for each hour you'll be outside. Backpacks equipped with water bladders are ideal when hiking and biking.
Protect yourself from the sun. Hats, sunglasses and sunscreen are all necessities. Make sure to apply plenty of sunscreen before you head outside, and reapply every few hours.
From Outside magazine: Six Hot Weather Mistakes to Avoid
Phoenix's desert preserves, including Camelback Mountain, are home to native species such as the desert tortoise, chuckwalla lizard, cottontail rabbits, and rattlesnakes (hike with caution). Plant species include the saguaro, cholla and prickly pear cacti, as well as native trees such as mesquite and palo verde.
If you'd rather gawk at the Phoenix landmark from the ground (preferably with a cocktail in hand), there are plenty of restaurant patios and resort pools with views of Camelback Mountain.
Walk (or bike) around the red buttes at Papago Park. Get Instagram-worthy pics at the iconic Hole-in-the-Rock formation.
The Phoenix Mountains Preserve includes several parks and peaks offering outdoor recreation to hikers and bikers of all skill levels.
Hikers can traverse 50 miles of trail at South Mountain Park and Preserve, one of the largest municipal parks in the United States.
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