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Hiking Humphrey's Peak, Arizona's Highest Point

Hiking Humphrey's Peak, Arizona's Highest Point
Nina Gruber

At 12,637 feet, Humphrey's Peak is Arizona's tallest mountain and is located within driving distance of Phoenix, just 11 miles north of Flagstaff. One of the extinct volcanoes in the San Francisco Range, Humphrey's offers a unique hike to its summit for those of us looking for a weekend getaway and challenge.

See also: 10 Favorite Hikes in the Valley 8 Tips for Summer Hiking in Arizona

From fields, to dense forest, to spectacular views
From fields, to dense forest, to spectacular views
Nina Gruber

The Hike A well-traveled path, the Humphrey's Peak trail is a perfect challenge for devoted hikers looking for a change of pace. At 4.8 miles in length and 3,313 feet in elevation, this is no easy trail and can be quite strenuous at times, especially with the altitude gain. This trail consists of long switchbacks, traversing through the Coconino Forest of ponderosa pines and epic rock slides, all the way up to Arizona's only tundra landscape, which begins above the tree line at 11,500 feet. This last portion of the hike is about a mile's worth of complete exposure accompanied by the devilish three false summits. The tough trek is indeed worth it, as the view on top is an unobstructed site of northern Arizona from its highest point.

 

A peek at the tundra above the tree line
A peek at the tundra above the tree line
Nina Gruber

Hiking Notes As stated above, though this trail is well-traversed and can be quite busy on the weekends, this is not a hop and skip to the top. This mountain path gains quite a bit of altitude. That can cause mild altitude sickness symptoms, which should not be ignored. Also, the exposure on the top is important to take into consideration when planning for weather. Thunderstorms are a real danger at this elevation, as well as wind patterns. The tundra label is no exaggeration: There's not much up there but you and the rocks.

How to Get There From Flagstaff, drive north on the US 180 (which conveniently starts as Humphrey's Road in downtown) and continue for about seven miles to Snowbowl Road. Take a right and drive for another seven miles until reaching the Arizona Snowbowl parking lot, where you can park and prepare for the hike ahead. The trail begins just north of the parking lot.

For more information, visit the Coconino National Forest website. And don't forget to bring water!

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