A few hours of hiking Camelback Mountain in Scottsdale, Arizona is a great way to spend part of Christmas day as we recently found out. Normally I’m in the kitchen cooking on Christmas but this year things were different. We were meeting my father and step-mother at the atmospheric Lons in the Hermosa Inn in Paradise Valley for a 4 pm Christmas dinner.
And we had nothing to do.
There were no presents to open and breakfast was finished by 10 – a very abnormal Christmas for all of us.
So we decided to hike to the top of Camelback Mountain in Scottsdale. Apparently though, we weren’t the only ones not cooking that day. It felt like the whole world had descended on the mountain; it was especially noticeable as we had to park about a mile away from the trailhead.
And once at the trailhead this was the first sign that greeted us.
The bees have been a real problem in the past though I saw only a few on the day we hiked. Back in October 2012 a man was swarmed by bees and fell 150 feet to his death. Two others sustained 300 bee stings each – so the bees are to be taken seriously.
It’s a steep hike on the Cholla Trail for the majority of the distance – especially once you get past the helipad. And because of the huge number of people we were forced to slow down – sometimes because the people in front were quite obviously clueless about all the people they were holding up. At times it was an exercise in patience – which is not my forte.
Despite the sheer number of people …and dogs, it’s a great hike. You do feel like you get a workout and the views of Scottsdale are superb.
When we arrived at the summit of the mountain – after perhaps 45 minutes – we were in for a real treat – truly one of the highlights of our visit to Scottsdale. Santa and a fully decorated tree were there – handing out candy canes to the good people – and lumps of coal to the bad ones. Most guys got coal. Then Santa posed for photos. He told me he brought 700 candy canes to the summit and this was the first year he’d done it.
Santa, you made our day. It finally felt like Christmas on the summit of Camelback Mountain.
If you haven’t hiked Camelback Mountain do it. Take lots of water, wear sturdy shoes and don’t wear black unless you love the heat. Take your time as the footing can be tricky. One woman was being airlifted off the mountain when we were there because of a head injury – but still that shouldn’t stop you. Accidents happen and most can be prevented. If you are unsure of hiking on the steeper sections then hike at least as far as the helipad. You won’t regret it.
Some useful Camelback Mountain info:
- The hike gains approximately 1200 feet over 1.6 miles if you start at the Cholla Trailhead.
- There is a steeper trail – via Echo Canyon that is 1.2 miles long one way. But it is currently under repair and scheduled to reopen early in 2014.
- Park on Invergordon Street – where permitted for the Cholla Trailhead.
- There are no fees.
- Dogs are allowed.
- Start super early in the warm months as this would be one hot trail.
Have you hiked Camelback Mountain? Which trail do you prefer to hike?
Other posts related to Arizona you might like:
- A Visit to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Home – Taliesin West in Scottsdale
- A Stellar Hike in the Dragoon Mountains of Southeast
- A Downloadable Guide to Hiking in the Grand Canyon
- A Snowy Hike in Beautiful Chiricahua National Monument
- Hiking Pinnacle Peak in Scottsdale, Arizona
- A Day Hike in Arizona’s Superstition Mountains