Camelback Mountain, Camelback Mountain: Cholla Trailhead, Phoenix - Scottsdale - Mesa, Arizona
Camelback Mountain - 2.7 miles
Camelback Mountain: Cholla Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||2.7 miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||1,548' - 2,704' (2,704' max elevation)|
|Elevation Change:||+1,156' net elevation gain (+1,248' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
Camelback Mountain - 2.7 Miles Round-Trip
Camelback Mountain is located northeast of Phoenix in the Lower Colorado River Valley, the most arid subdivision of the Sonoran Desert (7.5 – 9.5” of annual rain). This distinction, coupled with compact soils and steep slopes subject to erosion, limits ecological diversity on the mountain. Sparse vegetation, heavy use and an urban setting affect larger wildlife on the mountain as well.
The head of Camelback Mountain (Echo Canyon) is comprised of inclined sandstone, which is relatively young compared to the Precambrian granite hump. The hump (summit) formed as a mass of molten cooled, was buried, then uplifted and stripped to reveal the formation we see today.
The sequence of Paleozoic and Mesozoic rocks between the head and hump are missing, creating an unconformity. The granite hump is about the same age as the lowest rock layer in the Grand Canyon, where sediments appear to be younger than on the canyon rim.
Of 3 trails leading to the summit, the Cholla Trail is considered the most moderate route. It scales the rump of the mountain with several challenging but non-technical scrambles on the final leg.
Visitors will enjoy terrific views across the metro area that include McDowell Sonoran Preserve, the 4 Peaks Wilderness and Superstition Mountains.
Note street parking is not permitted on Casa Cholla Drive, and you therefore must park on Invergordon Road and walk .3 miles to the trailhead:
The trail climbs 400’ in the half mile on the route’s most moderate section (.5 miles : 1,857’). Grades steepen over more rugged terrain to a small saddle jut below the summit (1.0 miles : 2,203’).
The final approach scrambles over large boulders and outcrops with several exposed areas leading to the summit (1.35 miles : 2,704’). The path is not always clear but intuitively followed and supported by signs. The summit is relatively small but with ample room to maneuver and take in panoramas across the Phoenix and Scottsdale metro areas.
- N33 30.815 W111 56.906 — 0.0 miles : Cholla Trailhead
- N33 30.613 W111 57.040 — .5 miles : 400' climb on moderate trail
- N33 30.766 W111 57.462 — 1.0 miles : Brief reprieve before challenging scramble
- N33 30.885 W111 57.696 — 1.35 miles : Camelback Mountain summit
- Camelback Mountain trails see heavy traffic, especially on weekends. Arrive early to secure parking and avoid crowds. Carpooling is highly recommended.
- Camelback Mountain is susceptible to lightning strikes. Leave the summit well before storms develop. Some sections are exposed and can be treacherous when wet; avoid the summit when rain is imminent.
- Rattlesnakes are common along this trail. Be mindful of their presence, and stay on designated trails to avoid negative encounters.
- Trail etiquette and patience are important. Yield for others and allow plenty of room to pass along exposed areas.
Rules and Regulations
- Dogs must be on a hand held leash at all times.
Directions to Trailhead
The Cholla Trailhead is located on Casa Colla Road in Paradise Valley, AZ. Street parking is prohibited, so hikers must park along Invergordon Road (the cross street) and walk .3 miles to the trailhead.
City of Phoenix - Park Ranger Office
Administrative Office (regular business hours)