Place Name: Kachina Wilderness
Place Description: State: Arizona
Elevation: 12,633 Feet
Prominence: 6,039 Feet
Elevation Gain: 3,358 Feet
Lists: State High Point, Arizona 20-20, Desert Peaks Section, Ultras of Lower 48, Las Vegas Mountaineers Classic
The Top Of Arizona
There is not much better than hiking to the top of Arizona in the fall! The aspens colors are amazing, the weather is cool, and the summit views are clear and massive! One of the best hikes in the lower 48.
- Great trail
- Awesome Views
- Beautiful area
- Very busy trail
- Upper trail is rocky
- Can’t legally ascend Agassiz Peak
While thinking of Northern Arizona, the first thing that comes to mind is the Grand Canyon and the scenes of the American Southwest. That’s totally warranted, however, not thinking about a hike up Humphreys Peak is doing you a great disservice.
Just outside of Flagstaff, Humphreys Peak, the highest mountain in Arizona, towers over the surrounding landscape. At 12,633 feet and over 6,000 of prominence, the views from the top are commanding. The trail to get to this point is just as beautiful, especially in the fall.
There are a couple of trails to summit Humphreys Peak with the main one starting at the Arizona Snowbowl.
Just follow the signs to the ski area and you will also see a sign pointing you to the large parking area for the Humphreys Peak Trailhead.
The trail starts easy enough through an open meadow passing by some ski area stuff. This section is short and you can see the beautiful aspens groves just ahead of you.
Hiking in the aspens during October was an experience I will not soon forget. The leaves were turning and the weather was perfect. This section of trail also gets a lot of leaf peeping traffic and was very busy on the way down.
Shortly after entering the forest, you pass the Kachina Peaks Wilderness sign and then switchback higher up the mountain. Higher up, the trees turn more into stands of pines until you eventually break out above the tree line into the rocky terrain.
About 4 miles in, you will reach Doyle Saddle which gives you your first views to the aspen covered canyon to the north.
From this point on, the hike follows the rocky ridge top through talus. Some areas may require hands, however, its still all class 1. The biggest obstacle was constantly having to slow down because if other hikers.
The route is well marked with wooden posts as well. Unfortunately, there is a huge false summit and once you climb over it, you are staring down at the last section to the top.
After hiking that last section, you will find yourself on the top of Arizona standing next to the famous Humphreys Peak sign.
The views on this clear day were absolutely impressive and could see for well over 100 hundred miles. I sat here for over an hour just enjoying it. The summit was busy as expected, however, you can walk a little ways down and find some peace!
The Final Word
Honestly, this trail is in my top 5 of all-time. I hands down loved it. Maybe it was the time of the year that did it for me or the escape I needed from my personal life that week. Anyways, whatever it was, this hike gave me all the feels! I would definitely do this one again! This trail reminds me a lot of the Wheeler Peak Trail in New Mexico. These two state high points would make for a great vacation to the southwest!
Northern Arizona is a beautiful place. Make sure to check this one out if you are nearby. Heck, I day tripped it from Las Vegas!