The most prominent feature of Phoenix’s skyline is Camelback Mountain. Drivers orient themselves by it, hikers test their stamina on it, and the tourists-well, we take photos from it! Camelback Mountain (said to be a in the shape of a camel reclining) stands 2,704 feet above Phoenix; so if you are feeling sure-footed and very well hydrated you can conquer the camel on a hike to its summit.
There are several trials that lead to the summit, but I would strongly suggest using the Cholla Trail, although slightly longer, it is more scenic and a much easier climb. The trail originates on Invergordon Road in Paradise Valley Scottsdale, which is only about a 15-minute drive from Phoenix. I took Uber since even though parking is free in the surrounding residential neighborhoods, it is very limited and parking on Cholla Road WILL get you towed. It is also important to note that this hike can get very crowded, so go early not just to beat the crowds but because it gets VERY HOT. Camelback Mountain is not to be taken lightly, believe what you read, it is a serious hike and people regularly die of heat stroke, so go early and bring more water than you think you will need.
I actually ventured out on this hike alone, which I wouldn’t necessarily recommend but you can totally do so. I admit I never felt alone, there were so many very friendly people to help pull you up the rock scramble and help anyone who may have needed it. The total hike is around 3 miles, however the last half mile or so is rock scramble. The trail is marked well up to the helicopter pad and anyone can do this, it is all uphill and hot so take you time and stop to enjoy the views along the way. as The views start pretty much right away with the lush green golf courses, changing to desert landscapes and rolling city views as you round the saddle of Camelback.
What lies past the helicopter pad is another half mile to the summit they describe as a rock scramble, I called it a rock climb! Now I believe I am fit, work out 4-5 days a week, but the climb up was tough! At some points only one person could cross at a time, and at other times you were dependent upon the group to help pull you up and over the rocks. The trail at this point is not very clear at all, so you have to watch where
others are climbing, and rely on the road reflectors and blue paint that help outline the desired path. Also be very mindful of the signs warning of loss rocks and areas to steer clear of. With all these warnings said, it is a serious climb, however the novice hiker can do it. Hiking is huge in Phoenix, and Camelback is a must do!
Hiking isn’t the only way to enjoy camelback though. If you’re not into rock climbs but still into epic views you can enjoy Camelback Mountain with a side of upscale cuisine at any one of the many patios at resorts and restaurants in Scottsdale that surround.