- Home - Hiking Trails - Phoenix Hiking Camelback Mountain Hike – Cholla Trail
This Camelback Mountain hike takes the easier and more scenic Cholla Trail. It's still a tough hike, but the Cholla Trail is a nicer way to hike Camelback Mountain, a must-do Phoenix hike.
3.1 miles (5 km)
Climbing, crowds, rock scramble
Great views, iconic must-do hike
Camelback Mountain Hike Trail Maps
Google Maps trailhead:
5191 N Invergordon Rd, Paradise Valley, AZ, 85253, USA The Camelback Mountain hike trailhead is about 15 minutes from downtown Scottsdale and 25 minutes from downtown Phoenix. The Cholla Trail is a little longer but takes the gradual ridge line up to the Camelback Mountain summit. The hike to Camelback Mountain on the Cholla Trail is all uphill, but has a gentler slope than other options. Pace yourself and bring more water than you think you need. Interactive Map Camelback Mountain Hike Map Downloads View a Printable PDF Hike Map Download the Hike GPX File Gear for the Camelback Mountain Hike The best hydration daypack out there. The CamelBak Fourteener has been perfect on hikes of all distances (including Mt Whitney and Cactus to Clouds). It's light, has plenty of room for super-food snacks, extra layers, hiking gear, and comes with a 3 liter water bladder. I also like the raised sweat pads on the back that keep your back dry. It's the perfect blend of high-tech, durability, and simplicity. I've got hundreds of hours on it and still love it. CamelBak Fourteener Reviews My favorite hiking boot of all time. The La Sportiva Synthesis (for men and women) are waterproof, super-light, have incredible grip, and won a Backpacker Magazine Editor's Choice Award ( my review here). I've gone through a lot of boots and these are my favorite. They feel like comfortable sneakers with the protection of hiking boots. La Sportiva Hiking Boot Reviews Don't hike without this in your backpack. It's a GPS emergency beacon and can save your life ( more on that here). On the trail, you're often out of cell phone range, and even something as simple as a twisted ankle could become a life and death situation. This beacon works where cell phones don't and is the size of a fist. Just press a button and help is on the way. Your life is worth every penny. ACR GPS Beacon Reviews Be prepared! My complete list of hiking gear and survival kit contents is here, check it out! Help support this site by checking out REI outlet for great gear for a fraction of the full price. Camelback Mountain Hike Directions What to Expect Start the Camelback Mountain hike early in the morning to avoid crowds. This hike attracts over 300,000 hikers a year. Likewise, start early to avoid the intense heat. People die of heat stroke regularly on Camelback Mountain. It’s a tough hike. Bring lots of water and take it seriously. The last half a mile of the Camelback Mountain hike involves a rock scramble. I’ve seen kids, senior citizens, and dogs all do the rock scramble, but if you’re not comfortable with it, it may not be for you. The mountain used to be an Native American reservation. In the 1950s it became a park. Parking is free in a residential neighborhood. Don’t park on Cholla Lane or you’ll be towed. Turn by Turn Directions Note: Hike milage references start from the intersection of Invergordon Road & Cholla Lane. Park on Invergordon Road. It’s street parking and it’s free. Signs on the street lead you to Cholla Trail. Walk to the corner of East Cholla Lane and Invergorden Road, this is where my hike mileage starts. Hike up beautiful East Cholla Lane. Some of the homes here are valued in the millions. At about 0.3 miles on the left, you’ll see the Cholla Trail trailhead. Notice all the warning signs. Be prepared and take it seriously. Sometimes rangers leave cases of bottled water here for the folks who are unprepared. Look for the blue Cholla Trail makers and hike your way up the well worn trail. As you hike up, you’ll immediately have nice views. The trail is well marked and climbs up rock stairs for a while Blue blaze signs mark the Cholla Trail and yellow signs warn of fragile and dangerous areas. At about 0.5 miles, hike to the left along the trail. Keep following the blue blaze Cholla Trail signs. Keep your eyes open for lizard, hawks, falcons and quail. The trail signs change to brown occasionally. Occasionally the trail goes over rocks. Usually there’s a sign marking where the trail crosses them. The climb is tough, so take breaks and soak in the views. At around 1 mile, the hike turns toward the saddle of Camelback Mountain and gently climbs up. At about 1.2 miles, the gradual climb ends at the saddle of the mountain. This is the middle of “the hump” of Camelback Mountain. Make the right to hike up to the summit. The saddle has great views. On this day, someone was climbing along the cliff at the saddle. DON’T DO THIS. This is why people get hurt and die on Camelback Mountain. This section of the hike goes up the ridge of the mountain. The trail is rocky and not a dirt path. If you want to know which way to head, look for other hikers going up and down. This is where the rock scramble begins. The small blue signs are now mixed in with yellow blazes and reflectors on the rocks. Follow them up. There is no rhyme or reason to which marker is used when. You’ll also see the brown and yellow signs occasionally. You will have to use your hands to pull yourself up some sections of the hike. You can do it, just take your time and stay away from the edges of the ridge. There are points where there are no clear trail markings. Look for footprints and wear on the rocks to make you best guess at which way to hike. You can also turn around and look for markers going down, they will offer clues as to where the Cholla Trail is. If at any point you feel lost or scared, stop, make sure you’re safe, and go back the way you came until you know you are safe. When you see trail signs, you know you’re hiking in the right place. You’ll also see a mix of trail markers, including blue and yellow paint blazes. If you loose the trail, you can wait to look for hikers coming down for a clue as to which way to go. In general, you want to hike towards the middle of the ridge. There are side trails that dead end. Just turn around and hike back. Be prepared to pull yourself up some sections. A post with the blue Cholla Trail marker tells you that you’re almost at the Camelback Mountain summit. You made it! Welcome to the summit. There will be hikers here who took the tougher Echo Canyon trail too. At least you’ll have someone to take your picture. From the Camelback Mountain summit you have 360 degree views of Phoenix and Scottsdale. Don’t forget to get a shot with the Cholla Trail summit marker. You’re going to hike down the way you came up, on the Cholla Trail. There’s a sign for the Cholla Trail if you forgot where you entered the summit. The scramble down the Cholla Trail is easier because you can see the way. You might have to go down on your butt for sections of the scramble. Again, take your time, have fun, and most importantly, play it safe.
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This McDowell Sonoran Preserve hike offers well-marked trails, easy climbs, nice views, and classic Sonoran desert scenery. And unlike Camelback Mountain, McDowell Sonoran Preserve is a peaceful oasis where you can connect with nature and unwind.
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Phoenix hiking is some of the best in the world, which is why National Geographic voted it one of the best hiking cities. There’s over 40,000 acres of desert and mountain hiking in the Phoenix and Scottsdale area, with a hike for everyone at every skill level.
Read More A quick note. These directions are meant as a guide for the hike, and not a definitive source. Conditions change, and the information here can be different based on time of day, weather, season, etc. There can be small side trails that you might see but I missed. I have made every effort to include all the information you need to complete the hike successfully. I recommend using this guide in conjunction with a map, GPX file, common sense, and call to the ranger station or park office. If you do the hike and notice something has changed, please contact me and I will update the guide.
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