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Kachina Peaks Wilderness Loop

Difficult
 3.8 (5) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

A very steep loop trail through the Kachina Peaks Wilderness and to the high San Francisco Peaks.


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Map Key

23.2

Miles

37.3

KM

Loop

11,992' 3,655 m

High

8,025' 2,446 m

Low

4,535' 1,382 m

Up

4,537' 1,383 m

Down

7%

Avg Grade (4°)

35%

Max Grade (19°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Birding · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Overview

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.

Description

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.

Contacts

Shared By:

Steve Jackson with improvements by Madeleine Bryant

Trail Ratings

  3.8 from 5 votes

#3

in Mount Elden

#3317

Overall
  3.8 from 5 votes
5 Star
20%
4 Star
60%
3 Star
0%
2 Star
20%
1 Star
0%
Recommended Route Rankings

#3

in Mount Elden

#132

in Arizona

#3,317

Overall
153 Views Last Month
6,758 Since Jan 31, 2016
Difficult

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14%
14%
57%
14%

Photos

View from Humphrey's Peak Trail and Weatherford Trail intersection.
Jun 21, 2016 near Flagstaff, AZ
Hiker on Weatherford Trail towards the intersection of the Humphrey Trail.
Jan 31, 2016 near Flagstaff, AZ
Unofficial trail to Agassiz Peak looking west.
Jan 31, 2016 near Flagstaff, AZ
B-24 wreckage on steep rocky slope.
Jan 31, 2016 near Flagstaff, AZ
Aspens in b/w.
Mar 25, 2015 near Flagstaff, AZ
The trail near the top.
Jun 27, 2020 near Flagstaff, AZ

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Check-Ins

Jun 20, 2020
Kyle Wong
23.2mi — 18h 35m
Oct 9, 2016
Marcos Sherpa