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Camelback Mountain Hike

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.

Rating:
4.5 / 5
Distance:
3.1 miles (5 km)
Time:
2:30 hours
Difficulty:
Hard
Climbing:
1540 ft (469 m)
Trail Condition:
Marked trails
Challenges:
Climbing, crowds, rock scramble
People:
Crowded
Known For:
Great views, iconic must-do hike
Best Time:
Early morning
Dogs:
Leashed
Bathrooms:
No
Parking:
Free

Camelback Mountain Hike Trail Maps

Use this address in Google Maps to get to the trailhead:
5191 N Invergordon Rd, Paradise Valley, AZ, 85253, USA

Camelback Mountain Hike location

The Camelback Mountain hike trailhead is about 15 minutes from downtown Scottsdale and 25 minutes from downtown Phoenix.

Camelback Mountain Hike 3d map

The Cholla Trail is a little longer but takes the gradual ridge line up to the Camelback Mountain summit.

Camelback Mountain Hike elevation

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

hiking map on garmin fenix 3

If you have GPS device (I use this one by Garmin and I love it) for your hike, load the GPX file below into your device to navigate the hike. For help on loading the GPX file, read this article on converting and transferring to a Garmin GPS.

Also, don’t rely on electronics as your sole means of navigation. There’s a basic printable PDF map below, and I strongly picking up a good topo map too.

View a Printable PDF Hike MapDownload the Hike GPX File

Camelback Mountain Hike Directions

Camelback Mountain Hike

What to Expect

Turn by Turn Directions

Note: Hike milage references start from the intersection of Invergordon Road & Cholla Lane. 

Camelback Mountain Hike parking
Park on Invergordon Road. It’s street parking and it’s free.
Cholla Trail sign
Signs on the street lead you to Cholla Trail.
Invergorden Road
Walk to the corner of East Cholla Lane and Invergorden Road, this is where my hike mileage starts.
East Cholla Lane
Hike up beautiful East Cholla Lane. Some of the homes here are valued in the millions.
Cholla Trail trailhead
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.
water on cholla trail
Sometimes rangers leave cases of bottled water here for the folks who are unprepared.
blue Cholla Trail makers
Look for the blue Cholla Trail makers and hike your way up the well worn trail.
Camelback Mountain Hike views
As you hike up, you’ll immediately have nice views.
Camelback Mountain Hike rock stairs
The trail is well marked and climbs up rock stairs for a while
Camelback Mountain Hike signs
Blue blaze signs mark the Cholla Trail and yellow signs warn of fragile and dangerous areas.
Camelback Mountain Hike left turn
At about 0.5 miles, hike to the left along the trail.
Cholla Trail signs
Keep following the blue blaze Cholla Trail signs.
desert quail
Keep your eyes open for lizard, hawks, falcons and quail.
Camelback Mountain Hike signs
The trail signs change to brown occasionally.
Camelback Mountain Hike crosses rocks
Occasionally the trail goes over rocks. Usually there’s a sign marking where the trail crosses them.
Camelback Mountain Hike views
The climb is tough, so take breaks and soak in the views.
Camelback Mountain Hike trail
At around 1 mile, the hike turns toward the saddle of Camelback Mountain and gently climbs up.
Camelback Mountain saddle
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.
people climbing on camelback mountain
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.
Camelback Mountain hikers
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.
Camelback Mountain Hike trail markers
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.
Camelback Mountain Hike rock scramble
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.
Camelback Mountain Hike trail
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.
Camelback Mountain Hike sign
When you see trail signs, you know you’re hiking in the right place.
blue and yellow paint blazes
You’ll also see a mix of trail markers, including blue and yellow paint blazes.
Camelback Mountain Hiker
If you loose the trail, you can wait to look for hikers coming down for a clue as to which way to go.
Camelback Mountain Hike side trails
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.
Camelback Mountain Hike
Be prepared to pull yourself up some sections.
Camelback Mountain summit
A post with the blue Cholla Trail marker tells you that you’re almost at the Camelback Mountain summit.
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.
Camelback Mountain Hike views
From the Camelback Mountain summit you have 360 degree views of Phoenix and Scottsdale.
Cholla Trail summit marker
Don’t forget to get a shot with the Cholla Trail summit marker.
cholla trail sign
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.
Camelback Mountain Hike trail
The scramble down the Cholla Trail is easier because you can see the way.
Camelback Mountain Hike
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.

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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