Tag Archives: Camelback Mountain

Camelback Mountain Summit Trail to Reopen Wednesday

Echo Canyon construction

Echo Canyon Trailhead construction, 2013 | City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation

Rejoice, Phoenix-area hikers: The Echo Canyon Trailhead, and the Summit Trail up Camelback Mountain, will reopen at sunrise Wednesday, January 15.

The trailhead closed in the summer of 2013 for a massive renovation project. The City of Phoenix expanded the trailhead parking area, and it now features 135 parking spaces — nearly double the original 68 — along with flush toilets, a chilled drinking fountain, a shade ramada, bike racks and a roundabout to improve traffic flow.

Crews also rerouted the first quarter-mile of the trail, and the new Summit Trail is about an eighth of a mile longer as a result. The total distance to the summit is about 1.3 miles, but hikers are warned that with a 1,200-foot elevation gain, this trail is one of the Valley’s most strenuous. Fit hikers should allot 45 minutes to reach the summit and another 45 minutes to descend.

Another important note: For the first six months after reopening (through July 15), the Summit Trail will be “hikers only” — in other words, no dogs allowed. Dogs are still allowed on the Cholla Trail, the other major trail at Camelback.

The trailhead will be open from sunrise to sunset. Even with the added parking spaces, it’s sure to be packed once it reopens, so get there early or be patient while waiting for a place to park.

For more information on the improvements to the trailhead, including a map of the rerouted trail, click here.

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Filed under Hiking, In the Area, News

Update: Camelback Mountain Summit Trail to Remain Closed Through 2013

screen-shot-2013-06-13-at-9-17-26-amIn June, we brought you an update on the work being done to improve the Echo Canyon Trailhead, from which Camelback Mountain’s Summit Trail originates. The Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department is rebuilding the trailhead, nearly doubling the size of the parking lot and making other improvements that should help prevent congestion at the trailhead.

At the time, Chris Ewell, the department’s lead staff member on the project, told us the trailhead would remain closed until the fall. Now, the city has updated its project website to indicate that the trail will remain closed through December.

While this is sad news for those hoping to take advantage of lower temperatures, with any luck, the trail will be open for business in January 2014, which is prime hiking season in the Valley of the Sun. To get the latest updates, visit the project website or call 480-281-1506. And remember that South Mountain and the Sonoran Desert Preserve, among others, provide more great hiking options in the area.

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Q&A With PHX Parks & Rec Lead Staff Member Chris Ewell on Camelback Mountain Improvements


City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department

City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department

As you may have heard, the Echo Canyon Trailhead on Camelback Mountain, and the Summit Trail that leads from there to the top of Camelback, are closed this summer for trailhead improvements. We spoke with Chris Ewell, the Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department’s lead staff member on the construction project, to get some details about the improvements.

What’s being done to the Echo Canyon Trailhead area?

We’ve completely demolished the old trailhead. We’ve done some rerouting on the first half-mile of the trail. We are expanding the parking lot to 132 spaces; it was 68 before. We’re adding a shaded area, interpretive exhibits and a chilled drinking fountain. And we’re finally going to have permanent restrooms; we used to have portable toilets, which weren’t very pleasant. Up the road, we’re putting in a roundabout on McDonald Drive to control traffic a little better, so we’re coordinating with Paradise Valley on that.

We’re also adding new landscaping; the plants that were near the trailhead are being kept alive at Papago Park for now, until we can add them back in. And we’re building a gatehouse, in case we need staff members to control the parking lot more closely during busy seasons.

City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department

City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department

Why was this necessary?

Because of the increasing popularity of hiking in the Phoenix metro area in general, and Camelback in particular. That little, tiny trailhead was developed years ago and became overcrowded. There were times when nobody could get in or out because the traffic was so bad. There are 83 homes that share the same driveway as the trailhead, so people sometimes couldn’t get into or out of their homes. We had to have two staff members at the site all day during the cooler months to regulate traffic.

How long will the construction be going on? Will the Summit Trail be closed until construction is completed?

We spent almost two years working with hikers, neighbors, our internal staff and Paradise Valley to figure out what was the best solution. It will remain closed until fall, and probably late fall; we don’t have the exact date yet. The Summit Trail will remain closed until then, as well. With the new landscaping at the beginning of the trail, it’ll be a good chance for the summer rains to come and help things take root again.

What can hikers expect once the work is completed?

We think traffic circulation is going to improve, as will access for emergency vehicles and people who live near the trail. We even provided a drop-off area for people who just want to be dropped off at the trailhead. We wish we could have done it sooner, but we’re under way now.

What alternate Phoenix-area hiking trails would you recommend in the meantime?

Cholla Trail, on Camelback, is still open, and it’s been extremely popular since the closure. The Phoenix Mountain Preserve and Piestewa Peak are great options, too, as is South Mountain Park. We also have 25 miles of new trails in the Sonoran Preserve, up north.

—Noah Austin, Associate Editor


Filed under Eco Issues, Hiking, Q&A