Urban hiking usually includes designated crossings and coffee shops. Public transportation is a safety net option should you get lost or out-hike your return trip energy. Camelback Mountain in the ultra urban Phoenix/Scottsdale area offers but distant views of those niceties. One of several mountainous globs that emerge from the flat desert landscape, it is in the city but not of the city.
The first time I hiked Camelback, it was along the Cholla Trail where darkness turned us back short of our summit mark. It was the smart safe choice. Sheer drop-offs and dim lighting are kind of an oil and water combination for most serious hikers. But it felt unfinished. In my heart, I knew I’d have to hike it again.
Zach and I found the Echo Canyon Trail the afternoon before we were to fly home from Arizona last spring. We’d spent a week hiking the Grand Canyon and in the Sedona area and wanted one more mountain before heading back to relatively flat Ohio.
Like my previous hike on Camelback, it was a good workout. Continuously steep with varied boulder height, it used my legs well and required handholds as we neared the summit.
We spotted the occasional chuckwalla, but most of the non-plant life was human. It was easily the busiest trail we traveled during our week in Arizona.
But the views were memorable, and the hike itself was another good mental challenge for my height-wary self. And the biggest surprise at the top wasn’t the 360 panorama but that a hummingbird had also found its way to the top of Camelback Mountain.