Hike Camelback Mountain

Camelback MountainCamelback Mountain is a world-famous icon that defines the northeast horizon of Phoenix. Camelback Mountain takes the shape of a giant camel that gently lays and touches the borders of Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Paradise Valley. At its base is a blend of luxury homes, resorts, and golf courses. For those who want more than to admire Camelback Mountain from afar, there are two trails to challenge yourself. It’s a popular spot for hikers, rock climbers, and tourists alike with over 300,000 people hiking the mountain every year. Both trails reach the 2,704 feet summit. Echo Canyon and Cholla trails are rated “strenuous” for good reasons, so be prepared. There are about 200 annual search and rescue efforts in Phoenix, with the majority of those happening at Camelback Mountain. My family and I hike the Echo Canyon trail at least once a year, although we have never witnessed anyone being rescued, we have a friend who works for the Phoenix Fire Department who can talk all day and night about the rescues he has done on Camelback Mountain. Following the signs, knowing your limits and staying hydrated are the keys to staying safe on Camelback Mountain, as well as any hiking trail.

Echo Canyon Trail
Enter Echo Canyon Parkway east of Tatum Blvd. off of McDonald Drive. Parking is often limited. The trail ascends through spectacular sandstone rock formations with views from the summit into Greater Phoenix. The Echo Canyon Trail is 1.2 miles each way with an elevation gain of 1,264 feet.

Cholla Trail
There is no trailhead parking, street parking limited at Invergordon and 64th Street. Hikers must walk up the south side of Cholla Lane. Cholla Trail is only recommended for experienced hikers because of its steep, rocky sections with drop-offs on both sides of the trail. The Cholla Trail is 1.5 miles each way with an elevation gain of 1,200 feet.

Have you hiked Camelback Mountain? What’s your favorite trail?


Paradise Valley Unified School District

Fireside elementary schoolParadise Valley Unified School District is the seventh-largest school district in Arizona, with 31 elementary schools, eight middle schools and six high schools.  This district’s schools are located within an 98-mile area in Phoenix and North Scottsdale, from 7th Avenue east to Pima Road, from Jomax Road south to Northern Avenue.  Given the large size of the district, the tax base for the schools is larger.  The 2014 Auditor General’s report indicates that PVUSD schools outperform the state average and the district average for the percent of funds spend in the classroom.

PVUSD is also known for many programs, some of which are exclusive to this district.  For example, four different elementary schools offer gifted preschool programs:  Fireside, Desert Trails, Desert Cove and North Ranch elementary schools.  These accelerated curriculum and tuition-based programs target 4-year old students who have been identified as gifted on an IQ test.

Foreign language immersion is featured at two different schools in Paradise Valley Unified.  Sandpiper Elementary focuses on Spanish immersion, while Whispering Wind Academy centers on Mandarin immersion.  Three schools offer a K-12 IB (International Baccalaureate) program:  Quail Run Elementary, Vista Verde Middle School and North Canyon High School.  The popular CREST (Center for Research, Engineering, Science and Technology) program is offered at Paradise Valley High School.

Finally, for those fifth-twelfth grade students who are interested in focusing on the performing and visual arts, the North Valley Arts Academy is offered at Desert Cove Elementary, Shea Middle School and Shadow Mountain High.  This program combines the arts with a rigorous academic curriculum.

Even if you don’t live within the PVUSD boundaries, open enrollment gives your student an opportunity to attend any of the schools.  Applications are typically accepted in the district office until January 21st of the previous school year, with Early Bird applications due by December 1st.