Cholla Trail

How to Hike the Cholla Trail at Camelback Mountain

The Cholla Trail at Camelback Mountain is one of the most popular hikes in the Phoenix, Arizona area in the USA.

With the Echo Canyon Trail coming up the opposite side of Camelback Mountain, the Cholla hiking trail gives you a different and slightly more technical approach. But, with patience, anyone can hike the Cholla Trail in Scottsdale.

Here’s how.

Where is the Camelback Mountain Cholla trail head?

The Cholla Trail is in Scottsdale, about 25 minutes northeast of the city of Phoenix.

It’s easy to reach no matter what part of Phoenix you’re staying in, and it should only take around 30-35 minutes max. The address is 5150 N Invergordon Road, Paradise Valley, AZ 85253. If you’re at the Echo Canyon Trail, you can take Cholla Lane to Invergordon Road.

You won’t find a parking lot for the trailhead, which leads to my next point 👇.

Camelback Mountain Cholla Trail parking

The main parking is on Invergordon Road.

You will see parking next to the road and may have to do some parallel parking to grab a spot. However, there are many spots, so finding a spot shouldn’t be too difficult.

Is the Camelback Mountain Cholla Trail open?

The Cholla Trail has reopened for the first time in two years on September 30th, 2022, by the Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department.

For trailhead realignment and improvements, the Camelback Cholla Trail closed so they could make the necessary changes. But all that is in the past, and hikers/runners can enjoy the trail again.

So, what’s it like to hike the Camelback Mountain Cholla Trail once you’re there?

Hiking the Cholla Trail at Camelback Mountain

The trailhead sits back from the road, with two gates marking the entrance.

There are restrooms and water fountains at the bottom where you can stop. So, if you need to make a pit stop, now is the time to do it.

After that, you’ll follow the path toward the mountain, where it’ll gradually turn from pavement to trail. And it’ll also quickly gain in elevation, so be prepared to climb. You should also wear proper trail shoes or hiking boots to help yourself avoid injury.

The Cholla Trail Trailhead

Especially as you get toward the top.

Eventually, the trail turns into a bit of scrambling, and you should be comfortable with heights if you want to go this far. There are some steep dropoffs and scary terrain, including unstable boulders. You should be careful in this area and take your time.

One man had a 300-pound boulder fall on his leg and was luckily saved. So, be careful.

Camelback Cholla Trail distance

The Cholla Trail is just over 2 ½ miles to the top and back.

On the first half of the hike, you gain over 1,300 feet in elevation. So, your quads and glutes better be ready for a workout! If you’re a runner, you’re in luck as well.

The Cholla Trail in Arizona is one helluva workout if you need to prepare for a race with some elevation. 

Multiple trips up and down will have you feeling great (eventually)!

How long does it take to hike the Cholla Trail?

The Cholla Trail takes about 1 ½ to 2 hours to hike, not accounting for time for breaks.

You should count on time to stop along the way, drink water, and do anything else to keep yourself safe.

A hike is only fun if you complete it in good spirits!

Camelback Mountain Cholla trail map

It’s always nice to have a map beforehand, so here’s the Camelback Cholla Trail map via Strava:

Tips for hiking the Cholla Trail in Phoenix, AZ

For a quick recap, here are the details of the Cholla Trail, AZ hike:

  • Duration: 2.5 miles
  • Elevation gain: 1,300 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Duration: ~2 hours

So, knowing that, here are some of the top tips for having a safe and fun hike:

  1. Bring enough water. It’s Arizona, the middle of the desert. It gets hot. Don’t be silly, and make sure to bring enough water. Bring more than enough.
  2. Wear proper footwear. The trail gets unstable in some areas, and there’s tons of loose dirt. Wear appropriate footwear and keep yourself injury-free.
  3. Take your time. There’s no need to rush things and wear yourself out. Enjoy the hike (especially the view from the top), and enjoy the day out in nature!
  4. Pay attention to the weather. Weather can change quickly. And you don’t want to be halfway up a mountain when it switches on a dime. So, prepare for the worst that day.
  5. Be courteous. We’re all out here trying to enjoy the outdoors and have a good time. So, step aside and make room when you can. Hopefully, others will do the same for you.

Cholla trail photos and videos

The Cholla Trail runs along the side of Camelback Mountain
The Cholla Trail can get technical at times
Beautiful views, and many cacti, dot the trail
Expect to do some climbing
Signs mark the trail to make it easy to follow
You get a panoramic view at the top of the Cholla Trail

Are you ready to hike the Cholla Trail at Camelback Mountain?

The Camelback Mountain hike on the Cholla Trail is a great way to spend a day.

Whether solo or with your family, it makes for a great workout, and you have beautiful views. But beware that it gets a bit technical at the top. So, if you’re not a fan of heights, you may want to turn around beforehand.

Once you’re done with the Cholla Trail, you may want to check out the Treasure Loop Trail in Lost Dutchman State Park, about 30-40 minutes from Camelback Mountain. There are some beautiful trails to hike in this park and incredible views.

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