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    Camelback Mountain via Cholla Trail

    This reflects the 10Adventures difficulty rating for each route. We aim to keep ratings consistent across regions.
    This reflects the estimated time the majority of users will take on this trail. If you are slower, add time to the top-end figure. If you are fast, then you may complete this route faster than this time range.
    This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
    4.2 km
    This reflects the total elevation gained throughout this route as measured by the GPS file. This includes all ascents and descents, and is higher than what is quoted in most route guides, which simply measure the distance between the starting-point and high-point of the route.
    367 m
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    Directions to Trailhead

    Camelback Mountain is Phoenix’s most dominant peak, named for its resemblance to a camel laying down. It’s one of the most popular hikes in the city. This guide leads you up Camelback Mountain on Cholla Trail on an out and back approach. More hikers take Echo Canyon Trail on the other side of the mountain. Cholla Trail is a bit more technical and requires scrambling. The route is challenging and shouldn’t be underestimated, but from the top, you’ll have an incredible view of the city and the surrounding mountains since this is the tallest peak in the Phoenix area.

    Camelback Mountain is not a beginner or kid-friendly hike. There are multiple rescues on this mountain every season and hikers have died from dehydration and accidents up here. If you’re a new hiker or you’re not used to hiking in desert conditions, save this one for the future. Should you want to hike the entire length of the mountain point-to-point, check out our Camelback Mountain via Echo Canyon Trail and Cholla Trail route guide.

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    Route Description for Camelback Mountain via Cholla Trail

    Camelback Mountain, named for its resemblance to a camel laying down, is the tallest mountain in the Phoenix area. Clearly visible from its dominating spot on the skyline, it’s one of the most popular hard hiking routes in the city, drawing both locals and visitors. Camelback Mountain offers excellent views of the Phoenix area and the surrounding mountains since it’s the tallest mountain in this area.

    There are two main trails that hikers can take up Camelback Mountain. Echo Canyon Trail starts on the west end of the mountain and Cholla Trail starts on the east. The most popular way to climb the mountain is out and back on Echo Canyon Trail, but this route using Cholla Trail is frequented by hikers who enjoy a technical challenge. It involves more scrambling than Echo Canyon and has more loose rock to navigate.

    Despite the short distance of this hike, don’t underestimate it. This hike is not beginner-friendly and not very family-friendly. There have been several rescues off this mountain and hikers have died in accidents. This hike is suited to strong hikers with some technical experience who are used to the unique demands of hiking in the desert. You’ll need lots of water, sun protection, an early start, and the presence of mind to turn back if you’re running out of water or too far out of your comfort zone. Sometimes rangers will leave cases of water at the trailhead for unprepared hikers, but don’t count on this.

    The Cholla Trail trailhead is being moved to Invergordon Road, which will eventually add some modest, flat distance once it’s done.

    From the trailhead, hike towards the mountain on Cholla Lane. For the first mile or so, you’ll be hiking on a switchbacking trail with no significant challenges other than its grade. Climb up rock steps and follow the blue markers.

    Continue up the stairs, taking a left turn at 0.8 km. The stairs give way to packed dirt and you’ll see brown signage for the trail, too. Watch where these signs point to the trail over rocks. It might not seem obvious, but this route has sections that cross over large rocks.

    About a mile in, you’ll turn towards the saddle. At the saddle, things get more interesting. You might see people climbing out along the cliff walls near the saddle, but don’t follow them. People have been seriously injured and killed doing this.

    Climb the ridge to the summit, staying just to the right of the ridge on the way up. You’ll be scrambling over loose gravel on an exposed trail. Take your time and take care. Look for blue or yellow paint on the boulders if you feel like you’re losing your way.

    Continue along the final ridge to the summit, where the views of the city and its mountains are far-reaching. When you’re ready, you’ll head back down the same way you came up.

    Hiking Route Highlights


    The highlight of your view from the top of Camelback Mountain is the entire city of Phoenix. Phoenix is the largest city in Arizona and has been the capital of the state since 1889 (Tucson and Prescott were previously the capitals). The city has become a sprawling metropolis of over 1.6 million people known for its golfing, resorts, and entertainment. With access to nearby mountain ranges and a hot, snowless climate, Phoenix is a great base for hikers wanting to explore the desert mountains.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Is Camelback Mountain hard to hike?

    Yes. The climb up Camelback Mountain is a very hard hike no matter which trail you take.

    Which trail up Camelback Mountain is easier?

    Cholla Trail might be the easier of the two, but it still becomes demanding with its exposed ridgeline near the summit. It’s more technical, whereas Echo Canyon Trail is more strenuous.

    Are there snakes on Camelback Mountain?

    There are snakes on Camelback Mountain, but it’s relatively uncommon that you’ll see them because of the heavy foot traffic on the trails.

    Insider Hints for Camelback Mountain via Cholla Trail

    • You’ll park along the street on Invergordon for this hike. Any advice to the contrary will lead you to park in the old areas, which aren’t open for hikers anymore.
    • Bring more water than you think you’ll need for this hike!

    Getting to the Camelback Mountain via Cholla Trail Trailhead

    The trailhead for Camelback Mountain via Cholla Trail is currently being moved and will soon be located on Invergordon Road.

    Route Information

    • Backcountry Campground


    • When to do


    • Pets allowed


    • Family friendly


    • Route Signage


    • Crowd Levels


    • Route Type

      Out and back

    Camelback Mountain via Cholla Trail Elevation Graph

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    Camelback Mountain via Cholla Trail Reviews

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