We were in Phoenix for the Fiesta Bowl, and before we came a friend who knew I like trails said, "Be sure and climb Camelback while you are there." So, I got online and found the destination. I found the Echo Trail was closed so that left the Cholla Trail.
On January 1 before the game we rode around Phoenix and found the trailhead off 64th Street. Literally hundreds of people were coming and going down the street to the trail. I began to appreciatehow so many took on the challenge of the climb on a day off. I resolved to make the summit the next morning.
I rose before dawn grabbed a bagel and cup of coffee and headed to the trailhead. It was 40F and crystal clear. A little breeze kept me cool waking/jogging to the trailhead. My 5.5 hours of sleep after the game did not seem to affect me, and I got fired up about making the climb. I allotted 2hrs for the round trip hike to make it back to the room to check out with the group to make our flight. I made the round trip from the car in 1:46.
The summit sported a Christmas tree and people posed for holiday pics. The sky remained clear, and the breeze kept me cool and invigorated.
The trail was well-worn with loose gravel. The higher you climbed the more you were on the face of granite rock. I had to scramble some but the trail was well marked and not dangerous if you paid attention.
The day before we watched fire trucks and a helicopter circle the mountain to care for and extract an 11-year-old boy who fell 25ft down the trail while racing others, so it may not be that safe.
It is odd to be so close to neighborhoods and a golf course and yet have such a challenge on the outcrop. I like that about Phoenix. We have to drive for miles to get to trails in Plano, and those are nothing like the several in the Phoenix City Park system. We walked around North Mountain Park on Wednesday too.
I recommend climbing Camelback via Cholla Trail when you are in Phoenix. It's a challenge with a great reward of view and accomplishment. Sunrise on the trail is worth the effort.