Camelback Mountain Hike – Cholla Trail
|In This Guide|
|Distance||3.1 miles (5 km)|
|Hike Time||2:30 Hours (Total)|
|Total Ascent (?)||1,540 feet (469m)|
|Highest Elevation||2,707 feet (825m)|
|Fees & Permits||Free|
|Park Website||City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation|
|Stay In Touch||Newsletter - Instagram - YouTube - Facebook|
The Camelback Mountain hike is one of the most popular hikes in Phoenix. Camelback Mountain is just 20 minutes from downtown and can be seen all over the area, rising to 2,707 feet. It’s a popular spot for hikers, rock climbers, and tourists, so make sure you do the hike as early as possible, with sunrise being the sweet spot. There are a few ways to hike Camelback Mountain, and this guide takes the easier, less trafficked, and more scenic Cholla Trail. It’s still a tough hike, but the Cholla Trail is a nicer way to hike Camelback Mountain, which is a must-do Phoenix hike.
About 450,000 people a year hike Camelback Mountain, and it can feel like all of them are with you on the trail if you leave at the wrong time. It’s not only important to leave early to beat the crowds, but also to beat the heat. You’re in the middle of the desert, and if the temperatures are high, the heat can be serious.
There are about 200 search and rescue efforts in Phoenix, with the majority of those happening at Camelback Mountain. That’s about one rescue every other day, which is pretty crazy. The two main reasons why hikers get in trouble is the heat, and from going off trail (intentionally or unintentionally). While this is a popular hike, it’s also a tough hike that requires you to be prepared and smart. Read this guide, follow the advice, and you should have a great time hiking Camelback Mountain.
Where is the Camelback Mountain Hike?
Use this trailhead to get to the parking area: 5191 N Invergordon Rd, Paradise Valley, AZ, 85253, USA.
Parking is free in a residential neighborhood. Don’t park on Cholla Lane or you’ll be towed.
Another note, if you decide to take the other route up, Echo Canyon, the rangers are strict and aggressive about ticketing after official sunset in the trailhead lot. Do yourself a favor and just take the Cholla Trail (and park correctly).
Gear for the Hike
You can get away with workout clothes on this hike, and most people do. What’s imperative is bringing enough water and sun protection. Bring at least 1L of water. I brought 2L.
The La Sportiva Spire boots feel like comfortable sneakers but offer the protection of hiking boots. They’re great on everything from short hikes to longer hikes of 10+ miles. You don’t want to skimp on your feet.
Reviews & Lowest Prices: Women – Men
I test a lot of gear, and for short to medium day hikes, travel, and everyday use, the Osprey Stratos (men) and Osprey Sirrus (women) are consistently the best. They’re lightweight, hold a hydration bladder to make drinking water easy, have lots of pockets to organize gear, and most importantly, are incredibly comfortable. Check out the reviews; they are impressive.
Reviews & Colors Here: Osprey Stratos (men) and Osprey Sirrus (women)
If you’re not familiar with the Garmin InReach technology, it allows you to send and receive text messages where you don’t have cell phone signals. You can also get weather reports and trigger an SOS to emergency responders. Even if you don’t have an emergency, sending a quick message telling a loved one that you’re okay or are running late is well worth the cost. The Mini fits in your palm and weighs next to nothing. Read my review and see the lowest prices and reviews at REI.
Here’s my complete gear list that I personally use, have tested, and recommend.See All of My Best Gear Picks Here
No company pays me to promote or push a product, all the gear you see here is gear I use and recommend. If you click an a link and buy gear, I get a small commission that helps offset website expenses. There is no cost to you.
Camelback Mountain Trail Maps
Just a note on the trail. 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.
Camelback Mountain Hike – Cholla Trail Map Downloads
Download the Hike GPX File
View a Printable PDF Hike Map
Camelback Mountain Hike Directions
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Note: Hike milage references start from the intersection of Invergordon Road & Cholla Lane.
Did something change on this hike? If so, please contact me and let me know. I'll update the guide.