My Trail of Choice: Humphreys Peak, Flagstaff Arizona
Out of all the trails available to me locally, the San Francisco Peaks and the Mt. Humphreys summit is my go-to for training, catching up with friends, and solitary bliss. With 4 main routes up to the summit, each trail has a spectacular offering of views, vegetation, wildlife, and heavy breathing:) The most popular way up is the Humphreys Trail starting at the Snowbowl ski resort. The extremely technical trail will tax your legs and lungs on the ascent with roots, rocks, and volcanic tundra. The final mile from the saddle will seem never ending at times with multiple false summits and punishing climbs. Topping out at 12,637 feet, it is the highest point in Arizona.
For some more runnable miles, the Weatherford Trail is actually the remains of an old road that once took old Model T’s to the top of the San Francisco Peaks. It has since been closed to traffic to protect the alpine environment. The vegetation changes drastically as you climb, ranging from ponderosa pines to high alpine giving you sweeping canyon views of the inner basin. Looking down, you will be able to see the luscious remains of the 500,000 year old eruption from this once estimated 16-20,000 ft stratovolcano.
Starting at the bottom of inner basin is one of the most scenic trails in all of the United States. The Locket Meadow trail is a sea of aspen groves bringing in tourists from all around to gaze at their wondrous white bark against the green backdrop. In the autumn with the turn of the leaves, its breathtaking views are a sight to behold as Arizonans get their brief glimpse of the seasons.
Finally, Kachina incorporated with these previous trails will offer a spectacular loop netting you everything you could want from a long hike to some of the best training around. Reaching the undulating trail after 10 miles of Weatherford descent will rock your legs as you skirt the mountain back to the Snowbowl resort. You’ll finish up this amazing loop with aspen groves, ferns, and meadows overlooking Flagstaff. This loop was also recently featured as a Strava Golden Trail World Series segment.
Here are some links regarding the trail routes and some of my photos highlighting the various parts of the peaks.
Weatherford Trail to Humphreys Peak: Starting elevation 8000 ft, 22 miles, 4600 ft elevation gain
Locket Meadow to Humphreys Peak: Starting elevation 8400 ft, 16 miles, 4000 ft elevation gain
Snowbowl to Humphreys Peak: Starting elevation 9300 ft, 10 miles, 3300 ft elevation gain
Humphreys/Weatherford/Kachina peaks loop: Starting elevation 9300 ft, 20 miles, 4600 ft elevation gain