Camelback Mountain Cholla Trail – Arizona Hiking Trails

Distance: 1.42 miles 
Elevation Gain: 1250ft 
Time: 2-3 hours
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Trail Status: Well Maintained
Difficulty: Challenging
Required Passes: 1.42 miles


There is no parking lot/street parking in the neighborhood where the trail entrance is located. You will need to park on the street just outside of the neighborhood (on 64th St) and walk up Cholla Lane. This is about 1/4 to 1/2 mile to reach the trail.

Quick Trail Report

We hiked Cholla on Sunday, April 21 at 11 am. The hike offers beautiful views along the entire route, with 360 views over the Phoenix Metro valley from the top of the mountain. 

The first mile or so is pretty easy trail hiking.

Once you reach the helicopter pad, the hike becomes quite challenging with mostly a scramble to the top. I wish someone would have warned me ahead of time just how challenging this stretch would be! For the amount of attention this hike gets with tourists, I was surprised at how challenging the hike ended up being.  I definitely understand why so many people (ill-prepared or inexperienced) get rescued off of Camelback Mountain every year. I don’t recommend this hike for those afraid of heights or those with bad balance.  The upper portion does have loose gravel and requires you to navigate your way across the boulders. You’ll want to follow the blue spray painted dots located on the rocks up to the peak.

Here are a few tips based on our experience:

  • The trail is exposed to the sun the entire time. Wear sunscreen, and reapply as needed! 
  • Water, water, water! Bring it. There are no spots to rehydrate anywhere on or near this trail.
  • We were met by persistent bees on the upper portion of the trail – they literally followed us, clinging next to our skin as we moved along the trail. Bring bug spray! 
  • Anticipate on this hike taking you 2-3 hours, depending on your fitness level.
  • You can see wildlife on this trail, depending on the season. We saw Harris Antelope Squirrels, Quail, Vultures, and Chuckwalla Lizards. I’ve heard you can also find Road Runners, Hawks, and the occasional rattlesnake, during the right season.
  • Dogs are not allowed.
  • There are no restrooms available

Trail map at trailhead
Start of hike
Early hike views
Trail within the first mile or so
Views from the helicopter pad, before things get challenging
Views from the helicopter pad, before things get challenging
The start of the more challenging portion (note the “To Trail” portion leading you up and across the rocks)
The ridge-line you’ll scramble across
Example of what some of the upper portion of the trail is (this is on the easier end)
Views from top
Views from top
Views from top
Headed back down!
Making friends with the Chuckwalla Lizards