Humphreys Peak


Humphreys Peak

Humphreys Peak is the highest mountain in Arizona and resides in Coconino County, in the northern part of the state. It is the 26th most prominent mountain in the lower 48 states, rising over 6,000 feet. Humphreys Peak and the greater San Francisco Mountain is part of the Kachina Peaks Wilderness Area, which includes 18,960 acres.

Out of all the western states high points it is the easiest summit to hike. All the Guide books of hiking in Arizona will tell you that it is a strenuous hike, but compared to the rest of the western high points it's easy to moderate. The top of the peak seams to be out of place in Arizona, almost giving you the feeling you're not in Arizona anymore. It's often referred to as "Arizona's little Colorado."

Many people that don't know anything about Arizona have no clue that there are 12,000-foot mountains in the state. The popular misconception is that Arizona is a flat desert with no trees or mountains and certainly not worth visiting. The views from the top are tremendous. To the north you can see the north rim the if Grand Canyon, to the east, the White Mountains and Holbrook, to the south, the desert Mountains near Phoenix are visible. Local legend has it that the name, "San Francisco Peaks" have been named that because one can see the city San Francisco, obviously not true. Humphreys Peak was named after General A. A. Humphreys who was a US chief of Engineers.

Getting There

From Flagstaff take US 180 going to the Grand Canyon. Turn Right on Snow Bowl Rd. Snowbowl Rd is about 7 miles outside of Flagstaff. Continue up the snow bowl Rd for 7 miles. The trail head is below skiing area at a dirt parking lot. This is the standard approach. It's very busy on weekends, more than 100 people can be on this trail. This is the easiest way to climb Humpherys Peak.

Recommended Route

The Humphreys Trail starts at the Arizona Snow Bowl. This is the standard approach. The trail is very well marked until you reach the saddle. The first 3 miles the trail gradually climbs the mountain, then the last 1 3/4 miles it gets steeper and more difficult. After the saddle the trail can be hard to find at spots near the top. There are posts added on the last 3/4 of a mile to help mark the trail. If you loose the trail look for the posts. It is very rocky and loose above 12,000 feet. The trail ascends 3 false summits before reaching the true summit. The trail is moderate to difficult, but anybody in some sort of shape can make it if you don't have any problems with elevation sickness. Total mileage is approximately 4 3/4 miles.

There is another trail that starts at the same place the Humphreys trail starts, but heads down the mountain. Some people take this trail thinking its the Humphreys trail. Do not take this trail, it ends somewhere in the woods. If you want a nice place to camp then I would recommend it. There is a nice area to camp back at the end of the trail. The trail is about 1/2 mile long.

Red Tape

None, but its neighbor Mt. Agassiz is illegal to climb. $500 fine if caught. Chances of being caught are slim.


For the most part, camping is not allowed in the Kachina Peaks Wilderness. Camping is allowed below 11,400 feet, but not allowed near the skiing slopes.

Hart's Prairie

just below San Francisco Mountain is a nice place to camp. From Flagstaff take US 180 past the Snow Bowl Road. Make a right on FR 151 to get to Harts Prairie. This is a very large area with forest roads winding through the area. There are no established campgrounds and no water, not even any creeks. Camping here is free. Some of the roads might require high clearance.

Locket Meadow

Depending on weather, the season runs mid-May–mid-Oct.; there are vault toilets and an $10 fee, $5 per extra vehicle, but no water; you can also use the sites for picnicking 10 a.m.–4 p.m. for $5. Designated day-use parking is free. No reservation, first come first serve.

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