“Outstanding alpine scenery on a climb of Arizona's highest peak.”
— Almonzo Wilder
Fall Colors · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife
No off-trail travel is permitted above treeline to protect the rare San Francisco Peaks' groundsel - a plant found nowhere else in the world.
Humphreys Peak is one of the easiest of the western state highpoints to climb and has outstanding views from its summit. This deservedly popular hike offers a chance to experience the only true alpine environment in Arizona.
Need to Know
During monsoon season, roughly July to September, Humphreys Peak is a lightning magnet. Plan to be below treeline by noon when a monsoonal pattern is active. At any time, be ready for windy and cold conditions in alpine areas.
In the winter, a backcountry permit from Coconino National Forest is needed for any travel in the Kachina Peaks Wilderness.
From the trailhead in the lower parking lot of the Arizona Snowbowl, the well-signed trail up Humphreys Peak begins by crossing Hart Prairie, passing underneath a ski lift along the way. On the far side of the prairie, the trail ducks into mixed conifer and aspen forest and shortly passes the boundary of the Kachina Peaks Wilderness. A series of long switchbacks gradually ascends the west-facing mountain slope, with limited views on the trail. On a crowded day in the dry season, it can get a bit dusty and congested, but the route is straightforward and easy to follow. Eventually, the trees begin to thin as you approach treeline just below the saddle between Humphreys and Agassiz Peaks. A short push up to the saddle itself offers the first great views of the trail, including the country to the west and the Inner Basin of the now-extinct volcano that comprises the San Francisco Peaks.
At the saddle is the intersection of the Weatherford Trail, while the Humphreys Peak trail ascends the ridge to the north. It's a good idea to assess the weather before heading above the saddle, as the route is exposed and fully above treeline from here on out. The alpine walking roughly follows the main ridgeline, with a few steeper climbs and false summits adding to the difficulty. Eventually, the rounded true peak is reached, where tremendous views extend in all directions. On a clear day, the rim of the Grand Canyon stands out to the north, the Painted Desert to the northeast, the Mogollon Rim to the south. Once you've had your fill of the summit, head back down the way you came.