“be amazed by sheer red sandstone cliffs”
Sheer red sandstone cliffs and its telltale hump draw thousands of hikers to Camelback Mountain each year. Camelback is one of the busiest area's in the city's trail system. The summit of Camelback Mountain is at 2,704 feet above sea level. The mountain's two summit trails gain approximately 1,200 feet in elevation.
During the late 1800s, the federal government reserved Camelback Mountain for an Indian reservation. By the 1940s, however, almost the entire mountain fell into private hands and remained so for most of the next two decades. Efforts on the county, state and federal level to restrict development above the 1,600-feet level largely were unsuccessful, including failed efforts in 1963-64 in the state Legislature to arrange land exchanges.In 1965, the Preservation of Camelback Mountain Foundation led by Barry Goldwater, spearheaded community efforts to save as much of the summit as possible. This effort ultimately succeeded and was capped of by a ceremony in 1968 marking a land exchange that President Lyndon Johnson and Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall attended.
The “head” of Camelback Mountain, which comprises the area of Echo Canyon Recreation Area, is made up of layered sandstone. The hump primarily is composed of granite that, in geologic terms, is much older than the sedimentary rock that makes up the head section of the mountain. Because it's surrounded by residential development, large mammals are not normally found in the park. Smaller animals typical of the Sonoran Desert populate the park including cottontail rabbits, snakes, lizards, Harris antelope squirrels as well as a variety of birds. Rattlesnakes are common on the trail. If you see one, allow it space and time to escape. Plant species are typical of those found in the lower Sonoran Desert and include saguaro, barrel, hedgehog, pincushion, jumping cholla, christmas, staghorn, cholla and prickly pear cacti. Tree species include palo verde, mesquite and ironwood, along with the ocotillo plant.
This hike is challenging, even if you are in shape. I was not sore the next day, but it did take me a good hour and a half to get up to the top. It was very rewarding and I suggest it to anyone who is up for a challenge. They put in some bars to help pull yourself up the steep sections, and the rest is just climbing over rocks. Bring plenty of water and be aware going down is a little rough on the knees.
This is an awesome hike. I found it to be quite challenging but very fun at the same time. When I hiked it last, there was a part where you pretty much had to pull yourself up with a rope chain but that may have been redone since then. I believe the hike up is about 1.25 miles and that last .25 miles feels like 3. Beautiful views from the top and serene even though there were probably 20 people up there. All in all, a great hike if you are fairly fit!
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