Hiking Camelback Mountain With Kids. It’s been on our bucket list and finally happened: hiking the iconic Camelback Mountain!
For this maiden adventure, it seems best to hike with just the 10-year-old. It’s only 1.3 miles to the top, BUT it’s all uphill, very difficult, and requires using provided handrails to climb, plus boulder scrambling. The 3-year-old stayed with Dad. (This mama did not feel safe climbing with a toddler, much less her in the baby carrier.) In retrospect, our 7 year old could have made it, but he also stayed with dad. Next time!
The first portion of the hike is a steady incline, with some rocky portions but nothing insane. (Don’t worry, that part is coming, ha.) We loved how the mountain walls towered above! Of note, there’s two side viewing areas, which might interest families with little children for a much shorter hike. Bobby’s Rock Loop is a side 0.18 trail, with a covered overlook. And Echo Saddle also has a side viewing area, with some great views of Scottsdale and surrounding area!
The second portion of the hike is the infamous handrails section. There are two of those, and we suggest making use of them, the rocks can be slippery. It was a fun challenge! Look for the hand rail on the fence portion – this is really useful when descending. Go slow, rest when needed. Past these two handrails is a short portion of moderate trail which is a welcome break.
The third portion of the hike is the beast. Think rock climbing/bouldering! It was definitely strenuous. We took many breaks to catch our breath. One foot in front of the other is the best advice. If you need encouragement, take a look back at how far you’ve come! The view at the top is totally worth it because…
There is a literal 360• view of Phoenix!! Truly, truly amazing. On a clear day, you can see the McDowell Mountains to the north, the Superstions to the East, South Mountain to the South, and even the outline of the White Tanks to the West! Stop and soak in the view from every angle. Don’t forget to ask a fellow hiker to snap a photo for you! We also saw chuckwallas and roadrunners at the summit.
Overall, hiking Camelback was so rewarding. We were sore for a couple of days afterward, but the sense of accomplishment made it worth it.
Tips for hiking Camelback Mountain with kids:
- Bring plenty of water! Have water back in the car too for the drive home. Also, use a backpack because climbing with two hands is often required. Snacks are good too.
- The afternoon may give a bit of shade on the earlier portions of the trail, but not much. Bring hats and sunscreen for sure. Don’t attempt this hike in the summer! Nov-April is best, but also the busiest.
- Hike in the mornings for fewer crowds.
- Know your abilities. We have friends who have hiked Camelback with littles, but it didn’t feel right to us. Ages 7 and up is what we recommend, maybe 5 and up if your child is used to difficult hikes.
- The parking lot is huge but can fill up quickly. We got dropped off and picked up, which worked well. If you see a spot shortly after entering, grab it! It’s a short 5 min walk up the parking lot to the trailhead.
- There are restrooms, water, and a shade structure at the trailhead. Address: 4925 E McDonald Drive, Scottsdale. Open sunrise to sunset.
- 2.6 miles to the top and back, the average time is 2hr 30 min from start to finish. Our time was 1hr 15min going up, and 1hr 10 min going down, with a 20 min rest at the summit.
- more great hikes for kids in Phoenix can be found here!