A Memorable Hike up the Peaks March 19, 2008Posted by Dave Of Prescott in Adventure Recreation, Day Hiking.
Tags: arizona recreation, day hike, Mt. Humphreys, peaks
The Peaks are on the rim of the volcano, and include Doyle Peak, Fremont Peak, Agassiz Peak, and the highest point in Arizona, at 12,633′ Mt. Humphreys.
This hike is only doable as a day hike if you are in very good shape, and can carry a lot of water. We did this hike in the first week of October before the snow came, but after the threat of summer lightning storms. This requires leaving one car at the snowbowl recreation area so you can get back to the other car that you will leave at the trailhead.
The trail #102 trailhead is at Schultz Pass on Forest Road 42o, just a few minutes north of Flagstaff. The thing that I really love about this hike is the amazing scenery changes that you encounter as you hike up and up and up through different layers of flora until you suddenly emerge at Doyle Saddle to the incredible view across the inner basin to the towering Mt. Humphreys Peak. The hike along the inside edge of the ancient volcano where rocks have tumbled like water down the steep interior slope is quiet and peaceful. Then the trail turns and takes you up into Fremont Saddle, where you encounter the view of Flagstaff and points south. Another reason to stop and just enjoy. From Fremont Saddle, the hike immediately goes above the tree line as you zig-zag up the east side of the pyramid like Agassiz Peak. After almost 9 miles and 4000 feet of climbing, you come to the unnamed saddle that sits between Agassiz and Humphreys. This is where you get two more spectacular views; one looking northeast down into the inner basin, and the other looking west towards Williams, Ash Fork and beyond. Take the time to rest your body and your feet, assess your water supply and remaining daylight to see if there is enough time to make a summit attempt and still make it back down to the car before dark. The hike up to the summit is not far, but is pretty tough due to the scarcity of oxygen, and the rock scrambling that is required. There are several false summits on the way up, you think, “there it is!”, just to find more trail leading further up the ridge when you get “there.” Eventually, you DO actually get to the top, where you can turn 360° and everything you see is below you. WOW! On a clear day, you can actually see into the Grand Canyon. Make sure you sign the log book in the ammo box!
As if you haven’t had enough for one day, now you have to beat your knees, hips and feet to a pulp as you descend back to the unnamed pass where the Humphreys Trail takes you down almost 3000′ in 4.5 miles. Rocks and roots, roots and rocks…..that is what I remember most about this part of the hike. You will come out of the thick forest and stroll across a meadow toward the parking lot after completing about 15 miles and seeing some of Arizona’s most beautiful sights.
When you get to the car, all you have to do is find someone in your party that can stay awake long enough to go pick up the other car!