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Camelback Summit - Cholla TH, AZ

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550 1k 8
Guide 1,038 Triplogs Laps 8 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Phoenix Central
Rated
3.5
3.5 of 5 by 105
 
12
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Popular Workout
Difficulty 3.5 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance Round Trip 2.7 miles
Trailhead Elevation 1,425 feet
Elevation Gain 1,275 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,340 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 2 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 9.4
Interest Peak
Backpack No
Dogs not allowed
Fastest Split trekkin_gecko
2013-05-1748m 6s
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11  2019-05-19 Naferg323
7  2019-04-27
Camelback Summit - Echo Canyon TH
DarthStiller
6  2019-01-26
Four on the Desert Floor
joebartels
7  2018-12-24 Nightstalker
1  2017-12-31 Tortoise_Hiker
6  2017-12-30 Naferg323
11  2017-10-21 SunDevil3
1  2017-01-10 survivordude
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5 ... 11
Author joebartels
author avatar Guides 213
Routes 824
Photos 10,834
Trips 4,261 map ( 21,471 miles )
Age 49 Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
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Preferred   Nov, Dec, Feb, Mar → 9 AM
Seasons   Autumn
Sun  6:16am - 6:25pm
Official Route
 
7 Alternative
 
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Culture Nearby
yuppies reunite
by joebartels

"Ever hike the back side of Camelback?" - this was the famous question for years when Cholla was closed. Veteran trail blazers babbled on about how great it used to be. Lucky for you Cholla re-opened spring of 1999. The catch being you have to walk from outside the neighborhood to gain access to the trailhead. Cholla being the closest trail to my home for decades, I hesitated sharing this jewel of a trail. Please respect the neighborhood as you walk through because nothing is forever.

Cholla like Echo Canyon to the summit is a strenuous hike for such a short distance. From the trailhead you go around the resort golf course and immediately start a gentle ascent. Then switchbacks up the back of the mountain. Hiking the sloping desert meadow of cacti with the resort below gives you a southern California feel on cool breeze days. Be careful hiking along the steep sections as loose gravel might give way. Trail markers lead you up the trail keeping you headed in the right direction. The trail crosses over to the south side as you approach marker 14. Standing near marker 14 the resort spreads out below. The trail heads back to the north side as it will back and forth several times before reaching the summit. When the markers give way the trail is a bit more difficult to follow. This is the best part. You will be hiking the ridgeline with views of both sides on sections to the summit.

Area closed signs keep you from wondering to far off trail. Huge jagged boulders must be negotiated along the way. Personally I don't recommend bringing children on this trail as you will be on the edge in several areas. Nearing the summit one false summit is passed before making the final ascent. First timers may be a bit slower finding the way but this is not a terribly difficult trail. If you feel like you've lost the trail, backtrack a ways and look it over again. Once on the summit all that hard work up now pays off. Views of the valley and surrounding mountains can be seen in all directions.

On the return trip be careful on the rocks and steep slopes going down. You could head down to Echo Canyon, but be in shape before even thinking about it. From Camelback head north on 64th (also called Invergordon) up to Cholla Lane. You will actually have to park on 64th below Cholla Lane. Most park on the west side of the road hugging the resort fence line. Then walk up to Cholla Lane and follow west to the trailhead located on the side of Cholla Lane. It's a minimum walk of 0.4 miles to the trailhead but usually not over half a mile depending on how far away you park.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2000-01-28 joebartels
    WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

    Most recent of 79 deeper Triplog Reviews
    Camelback Summit - Cholla TH
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    echo was closed for a rescue
    http://www.azfamily.com/story/37406799/ ... k-mountain
    wondered about this, as i've never seen it completely closed down

    decided to do cholla if i could find a parking spot
    haven't been on this side in a couple of years
    wasn't overly crowded, think i beat the rush
    something different
    had fun on the little scrambling parts
    nice to see john9l heading up as i was finishing :)

    Camelback Summit - Cholla TH
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    Cholla Echo Over-n-Back
    McDonald was crazy backed up. Huge LOT FULL sign next to a cop. Special people stop and ask questions.. you can't just stop on a major street yidiots.

    Cholla was so busy it was almost comical. Well probably not to backcountry hikers. Echo can't really get ridiculous busy like Squaw and Cholla due to lack of parking so I released the idiot holiday anger in sweat on that side. Apparently I just missed the governor out for a stroll. There were two rescues ( hangnail and sniffles, well... absolutely nothing in the category of needing a rescue ) on Cholla so the conga line was a quarter to half mile. Finishing up a third rescue was underway, a base jumper smacked the wall :scared:
    Camelback Summit - Cholla TH
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    Cholla Echo Over-n-Back
    The ol' slow poke over n back. 60 overcast humid hell. Super friendly bunch. Lot's of goodmornings! at 1pm :)

    Although the parking was full all around the mountain it wasn't crowded at all. That hits monday. I get a kick outta the santa line up top, about 8 people in line on this slow gloomy day.
    Camelback Summit - Cholla TH
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    Baseball practice = night hike.. only felt that extra 10lbs at the beginning part. Christmas tree up top is always great. Whats up with the creepy Santa?? :sl: Also my best time in months. 43 up 91 total
    Camelback Summit - Cholla TH
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    Cholla Echo Pie
    The annual mystery christmas tree went up yesterday on Camelback.

    After the mile walk to the park I headed up Cholla. It was windy. The tree up top looked blown over. Nope, it was sawed off a third of the way up. Heading down Echo two rangers were headed up with trash bags. On my second summit they had it all cleaned up. The tree is gone. Well, at least until the social rebels strike back.

    Got outta drama land and had one slice of pie on the way home.
    Camelback Summit - Cholla TH
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    First time up the Cholla side in a few years. Got to the TH and only had to park about a half mile from the start, that is about as good as it gets. Not too busy to start, then hordes by the time I hit the helicopter pad. No breaks on the way up, a quick stop at the top and then on back down again. I passed droves on the way out. I should stop trying to expect hiker courtesy on these trails, because it is just not going to happen. This is a really fun hike despite the crowds, I love bouldering around the slower folks on the way up, and then passing them again on my way back down. ;) Good stuff.
    Camelback Summit - Cholla TH
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    **FYI** Some MCSO 'Ranger' tried to say they were ticketing people that were up there after dark and that they would be breathalizing everyone coming down from the mountain. He suggested that I turn around in 5 minutes "or else". He literally used those words. I "thanked" him for the warning. Lots of people up top. It got dark just after the summit. Biggest scorpion I have ever seen, I almost tripped over that guy. Actually used the headlamp coming down just to be careful and then turned it off when I got close to the end. I was prepared to go ninja out there but there was no one at the end except this real cool dude from Greece whom I talked with for about 10 minutes. He loved Arizona and especially the fact that he could go out hike whenever he wanted to and it made him feel free. How incredible!
    Camelback Summit - Cholla TH
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    As many people know there was a recovery on Camelback Mountain. I witnessed most of the process. The victim was a 56 year old man from England that was searching for a specific type of lizard per Fox & ABC news. The following is my account of the recovery. I feel people can learn from this tragedy with the hope it doesn’t happen again.

    I started my hike from the Cholla parking on Invergordon around 4:30pm on a hot afternoon. I walked up the sidewalk and noticed several emergency vehicles right at the turn for Cholla lane. I asked a ranger if the mountain was open to hiking and he said yes. I continued on to the true trailhead and it was packed with two firetrucks & several other emergency vehicles. I walked by a crowd of first responders and one of them asked if I had plenty of water and I said yes. I started my hike.

    As I headed up the trail I passed a couple of hikers and asked what was going on. They said there was a possible dead body but didn’t have details. I continued on and then talked to another hiker who had more info. He said a hiker spotted a blue shirt way off trail and two rangers were at the scene awaiting more help. He said it was a recovery at this point and told me where to look.

    I continued up the mountain and as I approached the saddle I looked down to the right and saw the two rangers. They were roughly 400 ft below the trail in a very unusual location that was very far off trail. I decided to continue to summit & would see if that provides a better vantage point. From there I hit the summit and looked back several times. I got a very good perspective on the scene.

    After hitting the summit I returned to the saddle and found a good position to look down on the recovery. I talked to another hiker but he didn’t have anything else to add. I was getting ready to head down when the SAR helicopter flew over and then circled back to the landing zone on the saddle and dropped off two SAR personnel. The two rangers below yelled up to us and asked us to show the SAR team where they were. At this point I walked over towards the landing zone and waited for them to exit and the helicopter to fly away. Once clear I told the SAR personnel I would point them towards the way down. We walked east and they told me the victim was a foreigner who was not familiar with the trail. They then started to climb down but the route was sketchy. I pleaded with them to continue farther to the east where a safer route was located. I was relieved they took my advice and climbed back up. From there they headed about two hundred yards to the east and then they started the descent.

    I hung out on the trail while they climbed down which took about 15 minutes. They arrived at the scene and I could hear some of their conversation. The next 30 minutes involved taking pictures and packaging the victim in the basket. I then heard them radio for the helicopter and it arrived about five minutes later. The helicopter slowly flew overhead and lowered the line. The team on the ground hooked it up and then the victim was slowly raised. Once they were secure the helicopter flew away and it was over. I started my descent & headed home.

    Looking back on the situation and hearing the news reports about the victim looking for lizards, it’s my guess he was off trail and was overcome with heat and slipped and fell. Going off trail is dangerous & help can be far away. I’m sure more news will come out over the coming days. This is really sad because it all could have been avoided.
    Camelback Summit - Cholla TH
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    Every Phoenician knows its not hot out until its at least 110 degrees, so today's 97 was just perfect for an afternoon hike! Not too many people up here today.. not sure why :-k Went up with my buddy James. He's got 22 years on me so it was great listening to all the stories and drink recipes he has. I usually enjoy hiking alone but I had great company today. Spent a lot of time talking and thinking about that girl who fell off Echo yesterday and how fortunate we are to have our health and to have always had good fortune when in nature. Saw a lot of lizards out sunning on rocks. I love this time of year because those dudes are pretty cool! A little Johnny Walker whiskey sour afterwards was well deserved.
    **All photos taken by Jimmy P**
    Camelback Summit - Cholla TH
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    A couple guys from work wanted to go hiking so we took off a little early and met up at Cholla. The guys really enjoyed the views on and off the mountain.. ;) This hike reminded me that, dispite the back issues, I am still in pretty good shape. Was a helluva introduction for the guys and I'm too bashful to post the route but I told them maybe we can make it half way up next time..

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    To hike
    From Camelback head north on 64th (also called Invergordon) up to Cholla Lane. You will actually have to park on 64th below Cholla Lane. Most park on the west side of the road hugging the resort fence line. Then walk up to Cholla Lane and follow west to the trailhead located on the side of Cholla Lane. It's a minimum walk of 0.4 miles to the trailhead but usually not over half a mile depending on how far away you park.
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