Written by: Courtney Schrauben
Humphreys Trail, Arizona
Arizona Snowbowl (Hart Prairie lot)
Type of Trail
Out and Back
Allowed on leash
Only during snow season
Best time to go
About Humphreys Trail
Humphreys Trail is an out-and-back trek that takes you to the highest natural point in Arizona, above 12,000 ft. The trail is full of lush alpine forests and mountainous scree fields. Hikers will witness some of the state’s most magnificent views.
Mt. Humphreys, along with Mt. Agassiz and Mt. Fremont, are within Arizona’s San Francisco Peaks. A mountain range located right outside of Flagstaff, Arizona.
This range is believed to have reached an elevation of 16,000 feet, right before a volcanic eruption that occurred more than 1,000 years ago.
As one of the more difficult trails in Arizona, Humphreys Trail isn't for first-time hikers. Overall, the trail itself is very steep and can be very rocky at times, with an elevation increase of 3,000 ft.
This makes the journey challenging. That's not to say that new hikers can't submit the top, but hikers will need to persevere.
How to Get to the Humphreys Trailhead
The Humphreys Trail trailhead is in the Arizona Snowbowl ski resort, north of Flagstaff.
You can access the trailhead lot, Hart Prairie, from Hwy 180. If you are heading in from Flagstaff, drive North on Humphreys St. and turn left onto Hwy 180. You can also type in Hart Prairie Lot into your GPS.
Humphreys Trail Guide
This is an extensive hike, so be sure to start early to ensure enough time to make it to the summit and back before dark. To start, you will pass under a ski chairlift. Then continue through a meadow full of wildflowers and high grass.
The trail will take a slight left, and you will enter a thick forest with pine trees, aspens, firs, and spruce trees. You will continue to follow the trail through steep and lengthy switchbacks. This will seem like the longest part of the hike.
This trail is well marked with directional wooden signs.
As you approach the 3.75-mile marker, the tree line will begin to thin. You may even notice the air thinning as well– this may make it more difficult to catch your breath. Be prepared for a temperature decrease as you gain elevation.
You will soon reach the saddle between Agassiz Peak and Humphreys Peak. Take a left to continue to Humphrey’s summit. The Weatherford Trail veers right towards Agassiz.
At the saddle, be alert to the weather as you are above the tree lines, and the route is no longer covered. Thus you will not be protected and will be exposed to the elements. During the winter season, expect ice and snow on the trail.
The trail will zigzag through rocky terrain and large boulders. The footpath remains visible, and the wooden stakes will continue to guide you.
The final mile is strenuous and has a few false summits. Keep hiking. You will know when you made it to the top when you see the legendary sign with the elevation, 12,633 ft.
Rest, regroup, and take in the 360-degree views!!! On a clear day, you can see the Grand Canyon to the north, and the Mogollon Rim to the south.
Once you have had your fill of the incredible panorama views, head back down the same way you came up.
What to Pack For Hiking Humphreys Trail
Below is an example of essential day-hiking gear for Humphreys Peak in September.
To learn more about what you should pack for a day hike, check out our expert guide - How To Prepare For A Day Hike & Packing List.
What We Used
Clothes & Footwear
Other Gear and Accessories
First Aid Kit
*Headlamps on day hikes are for those emergency moments. All it takes is a wrong turn or the trek taking longer than anticipated, and hikers are walking back in the dark. A headlamp to light the path back to the trailhead is a crucial benediction. Packing extra batteries is a bonus.
NOTE: What you pack in, you must pack out. As always, do not leave any trace of snacks or drinks on the trail.
For expert tips on choosing gear, check out the following articles -
What You Need To Know Before Hiking Humphreys Trail
Be mindful that the trail begins at 9,200 ft. in elevation and rising to over 12,500 feet. The air will get thinner, which leaves hikers at risk of altitude sickness.
If you incur altitude sickness, we recommend rest, rehydrate, and descend back down. DO NOT proceed to the summit if you are feeling dizzy, light-headed, or nauseous.
Always check the weather before any hike!
When at the saddle between Agassiz Peak and Humphreys Peak, be alert to any changing weather. As the route after the saddle is no longer covered and you are above the tree line. When storms are brewing toward the San Francisco Mountains, Humphreys Trail is at high risk for avalanches.
During the monsoon season (July to September), lightning rainstorms can blow in fast. Be prepared to head back to lower ground if a storm is in the distance.
For current weather, visit National Weather Service. For more information on avalanches, visit the Kachina Peaks Avalanche Center Snowpack Report.
As hikers proceed towards the summit, prepare for aggressive gusts of wind. Bring a jacket or thicker layer to cover up with at the top. You will thank yourself later!
What is the Difficulty Level of Humphreys Trail
This is a strenuous hike and requires training.
Ensure you are in proper shape in order to handle not only the steepness but the elevation change as well.
For more hiking ideas, check out the following trail guides;
Humphreys Trail - FAQ
Can you drive to the top of Humphreys Peak?
No, there is only hiking to the peak.
Is there a water source along the way to the top?
No water source, so make sure you are well stocked to stay hydrated throughout your trip.
Is there a way to avoid altitude sickness?
Prepare yourself by staying hydrated for a few days before your hike. Make sure you have eaten adequate carbs and calories. Avoid alcohol.
Are there restrooms at the trailhead?
Is this hike dog friendly?
Yes, but all dogs must be on a leash.
Is this hike kid-friendly?
As one of the hardest hikes in the state of Arizona, we do not recommend bringing kids.
Are permits required to hike Mt. Humphreys?
No permits required June-October. You do need a backcountry permit in the winter season from the Coconino National Forest.
Can you camp on the Humphrey Trail?
You may camp below the tree line. Be sure to maintain a reasonable distance from the trail.
Are horses allowed on the trail?
No, horses are not allowed.
Can you bike the trail?
No, there is no biking on the trail.
If you are looking to touch the highest peak in the state of Arizona, then add Humphreys Trail to your bucket list.
It’s a toughie, but with some training and the right gear, you can conquer this journey. And trust us, the magnificent panorama views are worth every step!
Happy hiking! For more information, you can call the Flagstaff Ranger District – 928-526-0866.
About the Author
Courtney Schrauben is a freelance writer and marketer. She is an avid hiker and camper, having trekked many trails in the southwest. When she’s not out exploring nature, Courtney resides in Scottsdale, Arizona where she can usually be found sipping a glass of Pinot Noir and planning her next adventure.
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