“A very steep loop trail through the Kachina Peaks Wilderness and to the high San Francisco Peaks.”
— Steve Jackson
Birding · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife
This loop trail gives you access to the highest peaks in Arizona and has expansive views of the surrounding area, plus the only small portion of tundra in Arizona. You'll be hiking the Weatherford, Humphreys Peak
and Kachina Trails. Your hike begins and ends at approximately 8,000 ft elevation and reach over 11,800 feet at the highest point on the trail. A side trip to Humphreys Peaks at over 12,000 feet is possible. You can also take a side trip and see the remains of a B-24 crash site from 1944.
Need to Know
Check the water situation. When we went there was no water to be found except at the Arizona Snow Bowl. We fortunately were prepared for this and brought a lot of water and had some at the car for the arid hike to the finish.
Start at the Schultz Tank Trailhead and follow the Weatherford Trail #102
up an old roadbed. This will be a moderate uphill with switchbacks as it approaches Fremont Saddle. We did not find any water along the way on this early June trip. Once at Fremont Saddle, you get your first view of the inner basin. My understanding is that these peaks used to be one big volcano that erupted leaving this basin and these remnant peaks. We camped our first night just past the Saddle at about 10,800 feet. It was quite cold in the morning.
The next day, we continued on the Weatherford Trail on the east side of Fremont Peak with continued great views of the Inner Basin past the intersection of the Inner Basin Trail
, up some switchbacks to Doyle Saddle. It is very rocky and dry. A little further on, you'll see a sign prohibiting entry to Agassiz Peak on penalty of a $500 fine. It can only be climbed in winter due to the critical habitat for San Francisco Peaks groundsel, although the trail up to the peak seems to indicate that the sign is ignored.
A little further on you reach the Humphreys Peak
Trail. Go right to climb Humphreys Peak
or continue on the loop. You'll switchback down from 12,000 feet to Arizona Snow Bowl at 9,000 feet. Along the way there is a side trail, unmarked and unmaintained that leads you to a wreckage field of a B-24 that crashed in 1944. You can still see a wing, landing gear, and propeller. If you visit, be respectful and don't remove anything.
After you pass the Arizona Snow Bowl, you'll hike on the Kachina Trail #150
along the bottom western flanks of the wilderness. There are some beautiful Aspen groves along this route and limited campsites and water. From Kachina, you'll end where you started at the Schultz Tank Trailhead.
Flora & Fauna
The only location in Arizona with arctic tundra.
History & Background
These peaks are sacred to various native tribes.