Camelback Mountain - 2704'
Location: 33.51472°N, 111.961611°W
Distance: 4.2 miles
Elevation gain: 1400'
Class (difficulty): 3
Time: 3 hours
More photos of our trip can be found by clicking here.
My dad and I were in Phoenix for the Fiesta Bowl. With temperatures in the 70’s and sunny skies, I had to get out. Dad was interested in coming with and even bought new hiking boots for the occasion. Last time BSU was in the Fiesta Bowl, I climbed Piestewa Peak. This time I wanted to do the more famous Camelback Mountain. Camelback Mountain is a tourist trap, but is actually a fairly impressive peak and can be seen from all parts of Phoenix. Instead of the normal route, we chose to attempt the longer Cholla trail. I figured this would mean less people and the trail seemed more interesting.
We arrived at the trailhead area and parked along the street. There were people walking all over the place on the road and we could see people on the trail on the mountain. We started heading up in blue skies and perfect temps with dozens of our new friends. After about 3/4ths of a mile of hiking along the road, we reached the signed trailhead.
The trail is well constructed, with some rock stairs. It was low angled at the beginning, but very rocky. We made good progress up to an overlook at the beginning of the east ridge. This spot had a great view of the Phoenician Golf Course and the east side of Phoenix and the Superstition Range. After our break spot, the trail got a bit steeper before angling across the north side of east ridge and putting us at a saddle. From the saddle, you can now see the west side of Phoenix. You can also see the top of the peak. These last 500 feet are on fun terrain, which I would consider easy class 3. Of course SummitPost exaggerates that there is exposure, but I didn’t see any of that. My dad was busy chatting with a local and I was debating the Boise State – TCU game with a kid from Fort Worth. Eventually my dad was done talking and said he was ok to move on.
We climbed on, enjoying the sun and fun terrain. My dad did great and we summited with minimal breaks. The top had tremendous views and there was hardly any haze in the area. There must have been 50 people on top, but that didn’t bother me, as everyone was in a great mood and it was a party-like atmosphere.
We didn’t have any issues on the way down, though I felt it was a bit hot at times. It took us 45 minutes to come down, but we weren’t rushing at all. We passed probably 100 people on the way down. Mostly TCU and BSU fans, but also saw people sporting other schools (local and far away) as well. It was a good time and I thought my dad did great!
When we got back to the hotel that night, we found out that 3 people had to be rescued off Camelback Mountain and one off of Piestewa Peak… embarrassingly, 3 were BSU fans!!! Here is a link to the newstory: http://www.abc15.com/content/news/phoenixmetro/central/story/Phoenix-firefighters-respond-to-4-mountain/-XZcxNx2ckq2EpKlswgMLw.cspx
We came in from the south. From Camelback Road, we took a left onto Invergordon Road. In about a mile you will reach Cholla Lane. However, there is no parking on Cholla Lane. You will need to park along the west side of Invergordon Road, south of Cholla Lane.
From your parking spot hiking along Cholla Lane to the trailhead. The trail is wide and mark with signs. Follow it to the 2200’ saddle. From the saddle, look for blue paint circles anytime the route is in question.