Humphreys Peak

Trip Details

Elevation: 12,635 Feet

Elevation Gain: 3,400 Feet

Distance: 9.5 Miles

Gear: None

This weekend, my girlfriend and I managed to accomplish one of the hardest things we have ever done. We made the 9 mile round trip hike to the top of Humphreys Peak. Humphreys Peak has an elevation of 12,633 feet, which is the highest point in the state of Arizona. The peak is located near Flagstaff, in the Kachina Peaks Wilderness.

The Journey Begins

The Journey Begins

The trailhead starts at a parking lot near the ski lodge. The first leg of the hike takes you through a field of high grass, which is usually covered by snow in the winter. From there, you make your way into the woods where the real trail starts.

At first, the trail seems like an easy hike. It is relatively flat and smooth, with hardly any rocks or switchbacks. However, as you continue on your way it starts to get rocky and much steeper.

Camping No Longer Permitted

Taking A Break at 11,500 ft.

At 11,500 feet, camping is no longer permitted according to this sign. The elevation really starts to hit you at this point, especially if you are not used to it. My heart rate was racing, but taking short breaks helps to get over it.

At this point, I wanted nothing more than to make it to the saddle to see some change in scenery. It is hard to stay motivated when you have no view of where you are going, so making it to the tree line was something I was really looking forward to.

The Saddle to the Peak

After what seemed like an eternity, I finally made it to the saddle. Arizona has only one tundra, and this is where it can be found. There is little to no life at this elevation, other than some small plants which can survive the conditions.

The downside, is that making it to the saddle is not the end. There is still one last push to make it to the very top of the peak. Elevation sickness really started to kick in here and I was feeling tired and weak. However, I was determined to make it to the top even if it meant dying…

During the last push, you climb over 3 false peaks that disappoint you when you get over them. I kept thinking the peak ahead was the top, only to get there and see a taller one behind it. It starts to piss you off, until you finally get over the last false peak and see the top of Arizona.

Once you see Humphreys Peak, you forget how tired you are and just push your way to the top. Your adrenaline kicks in and gets you to the top. When I first stepped on the peak, I felt a large sense of accomplishment. It feels great to know you just climbed the largest mountain in Arizona. Here is a picture of me sitting at the top of the summit:

Taking in the View

Leaving Your Name Behind

At the top of the peak, is a metal box chained to a rock with a notepad in it. People write their names in it to give themselves a feeling they left something behind. Here is the notepad after we both wrote something on it:

And Theres My Name!

Looking Back

My body hurts, it took forever, and it was freezing at the top. But, it was one of the greatest accomplishments I have made so far in my life. I really feel good knowing that I was able to make it to the top on the first try. The only question now, is where to go next…

19 Replies to “Humphreys Peak”

  1. That is awesome! Congratulations! I have pictures of Humphrey’s Peak taken in ’86 as I basically circumnavigated the mountain driving from Meteor Crater to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon and back to Phoenix.

    Matt Urdans latest blog post..Stuck in My Head

  2. That’s amazing how you made it through that hike on your first try. You seem like quite a determined person. The view must have been amazing… I would love to have an adventure like that.

  3. Thank you for bringing us this post. I doubt I will ever be able to get to Arizona, but you have given me a great feeling for this place. The feeling of achievement and elation which continues after the event is so great too isn’t it. So, few people get out and do hikes like this, and they should get themselves fit and have a go, even if their local hills are not quite so amazingly beautiful, there is great fun and enjoyment to be had.

  4. I could do this hike in my sleep. Makes me feel go to see how much ive done that others could never dream of. Although hiking the grand canyon from north rim to south rim (24 miles)in one day is always an expeirience to reamember. i did it in 7 and a half hours last year. This will be the only year i havnt done it in the last 8. ): broke my tow yeasterday and the trip is in 2 weeks. I was going for 10 years in a row. To make up for this I might just have to do rim to rim to rim next year. haha Just a thought.

  5. I have been reading a whole bunch of your articles and I love your philosophy of staying happy, not cluttering your life mentally or physically, etc.. This looks like a fun hike man congrats on making it to the top. I need to hike a mountain again.

    By the way I was in the midst of buying your book ” Life after the Cubicle” and then Pay Pal fucked up everything and I couldn’t buy your book with my card. I don’t know why pay pal is having problems etc.. But, I gave up. Although I still would like to buy it this week or when ever? I looked on amazon is it their or any where else? Keep on writing I am going to check out your pictures now on flickr Justin.

    1. Hey Rafael, thanks a lot for checking out my site. Currently the only place I have my ebook for sale is on the Life After the Cubicle site. PayPal was having a few issues the other day so hopefully it’s back up and working now.

      1. Justin,

        I’m not sure if this message will get to you, but here it goes. I am heading to Arizona in mid-October, and I want to summit Humphrey’s Peak. I understand the shortest route is about 9 miles round trip. How long does it take, approximately? 5 – 6 hours? I am trying to plan my day correctly. If possible, I would overnight in Flagstaff, rise early and drive to the mountain. After hiking Humphrey’s I would drive to the Grand Canyon. I am 43 but fit, not a couch potato. I live on the East Coast at sea level, so this will certainly be a challenge. Any feedback you could give will help.


        1. Hey Eric, thanks for stopping by. And yeah, the route we took was roughly 9 hours. I think it’s possible to do the hike in 6 hours, especially if you are in shape. The elevation did mess with us a bit but camping outside Flagstaff the night before may have helped a tad. I would suggest getting a super early start, that way you will beat any crowds and allow yourself plenty of time to head over to the Grand Canyon after.

          Best of luck!

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