I would classify myself as an outdoorsy fitness gal and at 40 years old, I had never been mountain hiking.
We like what we like and we tend to prefer to travel where we have already traveled. However, this past year we finally broke out of our shell and tried the Phoenix / Scottsdale area in Arizona. We visited in January, April and November. Our 2017 visitation frequency is an indication of how much we love the area. Located in the south central region of Arizona is the city of Phoenix. Adjacent to Phoenix is Scottsdale. This sunny state hosts an abundance of fun outdoor activities that include hiking, paddle boarding, golfing, tennis, mountain climbing, and kayaking just to name a few. In addition to the array of outdoor activities, the Phoenix and Scottsdale areas offers fantastic food, nightlife, art, culture, shopping and sightseeing.
Convenience was the key in choosing our first hike. Within a short walking distance from our hotel, Camelback Mountain was our first hike. In keeping with my personality, I have hiked Camelback Mountain 4 times this year.
Hiking Camelback Mountain
Located in Scottsdale, Camelback Mountain is one of the nation’s top hiking destinations per Phoenix.gov. The mountain attracts visitors from around the world. Camelback Mountain has 2 trails: Cholla and Echo Canyon. Cholla is the less difficult of the 2 trails and still it has sections, especially toward the top, that are difficult to maneuver. The first 2 times we hiked Camelback Mountain, we hired a guide to show us the ropes to insure our safety. Cholla is 1.5 miles out and back, and Echo Canyon is 1.2 miles out and back. Echo Canyon is difficult. I am a tall girl with a long inseam and some of the steps were as high as my long legs could handle in a single stride. However difficult, arriving at the summit was exhilarating.
The best payoff of hiking is the summit; however, there are great views and stops on the way up the mountain. The summit offers a 360-degree view of the valley skyline from 2,704 feet above sea level. Any given day, the summit may host a band playing, champagne bottles popping and even a Christmas celebration. It’s a sight to see and you will be surprised by the sheer number of people walking and some running up and down the mountain.
“Camelback Mountain gets its name from the unique silhouette it casts on the Valley skyline. The “head” of the mountain, where Echo Canyon Trailhead is located, is made up of relatively soft layered sandstone. The “humps” are primarily composed of much harder and older granite. Contrasting rates of erosion created the dramatic camel-like slopes.”
Camelback Mountain is easy to spot with its shape that emulates the humps on a camel’s back. You can’t miss it and you don’t want to. The City of Phoenix offers hiking guidelines and suggestions for a safe hiking experience. When you go, be sure you give consideration to those suggestions. I was very comfortable having a backpack filled with water and due to the heat, we were sure to get out early as the Arizona heat can be scorching.
State and National Parks
This adventure has shown me that expanding our horizons to other vacation destinations is exciting and fun, opening the opportunity to a wider perspective on the treasures of state and national parks. There are so many park options to visit and so little time. It’s time to get out there and explore what hiking possibilities are in our own Louisiana backyard.