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Camelback Mountain Phoenix: The Busiest Hike and Dangers

by | May 31, 2015 | Adventures | 0 comments

Camelback Mountain Phoenix

Have you ever heard of the portion of the Phoenix Mountain Preserve derived from it’s shape, which resembles the hump and head of a kneeling camel? Camelback mountain, in which houses a training facility for Arizona’s National Football League Team, the Cardinals, which their stadium you can actually see from the top, and another astonishing 300,000 hikers each year?

Photo courtesy of Dru Bloomfield

Photo courtesy of Dru Bloomfield

This 2,707 foot elevation hike is known as Camelback Mountain! The scenic 2.4-mile, round-trip trail is located right in the middle of the Phoenix Valley. Perhaps this is why it is so darn busy?! Ah! As you can already tell, this hike does not necessarily fit our motto of an off the beaten path adventure, but we would be lying if we said that we did not occasionally hit this trail hard as it has much to offer. However, with the multitude of pros this hike has, with it’s prime location and quick elevation, there also comes some cons…

Camelback Mountain Routes

The two different routes, which are critical that the hikers remain on during their entire ventures, are known as Echo Canyon Trail and Cholla trail. Why is this?

Well, as many of you may have seen in the news prior, there have been many injuries and deaths. Not all attempts, unfortunately, are as successful as JJ Miller’s, who has the record for the Echo Canyon accent at 16 minutes and 2 seconds! (Wow!)

Camelback Mountain Dangers

A main part of the reason why this hike is listed as “difficult” and “strenuous” by a variety of published sources is not only due to the fact that there is an extreme elevation gain with a short amount of distance to do so, the extreme heat that is common during this hike due to the exposure to sun and lack of shade throughout and the last portion of the hike consists of a hiking strategy known as “scrambling.” No, we are not talking about how we like our eggs cooked, even though it’s obviously the best way! We are talking about making one’s way quickly or awkwardly up a steep slope or over rough ground by using one’s hands as well as one’s feet!

Can you say need for coordination?! Yes! Now, back to other dangers of this mountain, getting off of the beaten path, here, has caused many maladies in the past…

Unfortunately, Eric Fernandes is am example of a victim of the potential dangers when hiking Camelback Mountain. The heat, especially in the Summer months like how his incident occurred in June, is a large factor for many when hiking this mountain. It is for this reason that, there is a very strict recommendation for doing this hike during the morning hours as this is when the coolest weather inhabits the mountain.


As a matter of fact, it was about 2 years ago that I was hiking Camelback Mountain with another guide, John, and we came across a couple who’s 80-pound dog was struggling getting down the mountain due to heat exhaustion and lack of water, which was leading to dehydration. Thankfully, John, my Dad, was able to assist the dog down the mountain and after supplying the dog with water and providing him with the limited shade at the bottom, the dog was alright, but this is an example of how important it is to recognize the need for proper hydration and the dangers associated with exercise in the Arizona heat.

One other danger component, which has caused mortality in the past, which I am sure you did not expect, is the abundance of bees at the peak of the mountain.

Bees have continued to be an issue or threat since, but the above, horrible, death occurrence occurred in 2012. A couple of tips that could assist you if you come across bees on Camelback Mountain are, do not flail your arms or swat at the bees. This will annoy them and possibly cause them to be more aggressive and cover your head, eyes, and mouth if you come into contact.


Bees tend to attack this area and are attracted to the carbon dioxide that we breathe out. On a similar note, there have also been a variety of falls due to people getting off of the beaten path or falling due to heat exhaustion and bees, in this case? How do we prevent these falls? There are now fenced-in areas all around this hike’s main two paths, which were disclosed earlier, to prevent those who tend to wander and incase of an emergency like this one, the faller would be more contained.

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of


Recommendations When Hiking Camelback Mountain

What have we learned from this article? There are a variety of safety precautions that need to be taken notice of before, during and after exposure to this hike.

  • Remember to always drink plenty of water during all stages of the hike, including before and after, even though we usually do not go by this motto, stay on the beaten path and within the fenced areas and if you come into contact with bees or other obstacles, follow the directions listed above!
  • For how much water should I drink during my hike, please refer to the next blog post, but assuming there has been present hydration before and after the hike, one pint per hour is the general rule while out in the sun and on the trail!

Will Arizona Hiking Adventures still take you out on this hike? Absolutely! Even though there are many associated dangers, that have been mentioned in this blog post, the beauty and adrenaline provided after getting to the top serves as reason enough to go!

Contact us to book your tailored, guided hike! We cannot wait to go! See you out there, Arizona Hiking Adventures.

Photo courtesy of Laszlo Ilyes

Photo courtesy of Laszlo Ilyes