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5950 N. Echo Canyon Pkwy. , Echo Canyon Recreation Area
Phoenix , AZ , United States http://phoenix.gov/recreation/rec/parks/preserves/locations/camelback/index.html
(602) 261-8318

This red-hued beauty is an attractively rugged cliff perfect for hard-core hikers. Its Echo Canyon trail, which starts at 5700 North Echo Canyon Parkway, winds 1.2 miles to the top of the 2,704-foot summit—a steep elevation gain of more than 1,200 feet. One tricky, near-vertical section requires nerve and (for some) use of the installed handrails. Gorgeous views of the pink crags (not to mention million-dollar homes in the swanky surrounding neighborhood) make the workout extra special. Even in the middle of Phoenix, sharp-eyed hikers might spy the occasional rattlesnake or iguana-size chuckwalla lizards that inhabit the rocky terrain. The east side Cholla Trail is slightly longer and easier, except when you need to scramble at the top. Park on Invergordon between Camelback Road and McDonald Drive; then walk up Cholla Lane to the trail. Parking spaces are scarce—you may have to take a warm-up stroll from the nearby residential area to the trailheads.

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Congratulations to Nicholas Elmi, winner of Top Chef: New Orleans, the 11th season of Bravo's Emmy-Award winning, hit reality series.

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