There are many great things to do in Arizona; hiking up Humphreys Peak is one. Because of the steep climb and elevation, this is a strenuous hike. However, for those who have hiking experience, Humphreys Peak offers some beautiful views. How long does it take one to hike Humphreys Peak in Arizona?
Humphreys Peak is a ten-mile round trip hike and takes about six to eight hours to complete. As there are no camping facilities above the tree line. It is recommended that you get an early start as you must complete the hike within one day. Humphreys Peak has an elevation gain of 3300 feet.
Humphreys Peak can be hiked any time of the year. However, you must have a permit to do the hike during winter. There are also additional dangers to hiking Humphreys Peak in winter, and you will need some equipment to do so. Humphreys Peak is pet friendly, as long as they are kept on a leash.
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How Long Does It Take To Hike Up Humphreys Peak?
The Humphreys Peak hiking trail starts at the Snowball Flagstaff parking bay. Day parking is free, and there should be sufficient parking space. The entire hike is about ten miles long and will take six to eight hours to complete.
In terms of difficulty, this hike is not for beginners or intermediate hikers. While the trail itself is not that difficult, the elevation and steepness make it more suitable for experienced hikers. This is especially true in winter, when avalanches, obscure trails, and snow pose more danger.
It is possible to hike Humphreys Peak any time of the year. However, the best time is between late Spring and early Fall. Temperatures drop significantly above the tree line during the summer months, and monsoon winds are expected. Therefore, you should bring enough clothes and a waterproof jacket when hiking Humphreys Peak.
Lightning storms are also quite common in Arizona during summer. It is recommended that you be below the tree line by noon when the lightning storms usually start. This requires you to start hiking Humphreys Peak early in the morning.
When you reach the saddle above the tree line, you can continue straight to reach Humphreys Peak. Or you can turn around and start the descent. From the saddle, you will have great views of Arizona. However, if the weather is terrible, or you are experiencing altitude sickness, turn around at the saddle to ensure you have a safe return.
However, if you choose to complete the hike and reach Humphreys Peak, you will continue straight. The trail will be rocky and steep, so you are advised to take hiking poles. There are two false summits you must pass to reach the true Humphreys Peak. However, when you reach the peak, you will be welcomed with breathtaking views of Arizona. On a clear day, you will be able to see as far as the Grand Canyon.
After enjoying the scenery and taking many pictures, you will turn around and make your way back down to Snowball Flagstaff. Don’t rush down, and remember to take any trash back down with you. Humphreys Peak is a sacred mountain to many native American tribes, and it should therefore be protected and cared for.
Are There Any Dangers To Hiking Humphreys Peak?
We have already touched on some potential dangers when hiking Humphreys Peak. However, here is a more extensive list of what you should prepare for when pursuing this challenging hike. There are different dangers when hiking Humphreys Peak in Summer and Winter. We will first talk about the risks of hiking Humphreys Peak in summer:
- Dehydration. Even though you might enjoy the cool breeze at the top of Humphreys Peak, the low humidity means that you will be losing moisture twice as fast as you usually would. Therefore, you must drink plenty of water while hiking. Unfortunately, there are no portable water sites along the hike, so pack enough water for the entire hike.
- Altitude Sickness. Snowball Flagstaff is located at 9300 feet above sea level. In addition, the Humphreys Peak hike will take you up another 3300 feet. In total, at the peak, you will be 12600 feet above sea level. Therefore, altitude sickness is a genuine concern. Take it slow on your ascent and assess how you feel.
- Monsoon Storms. As we have mentioned, Arizona gets some monsoon winds during summer. Not only do these winds make the climb more dangerous, but they also significantly lower the temperature. So be sure to take warm clothes to combat the cold.
- Lightning. When you reach the saddle, it is advised that you look at the skies before continuing the hike to the summit. If it seems like it might start to rain or a storm is brewing, it is best to turn around and approach the peak on another day.
Although Humphreys Peak is not recommended for inexperienced hikers any time of the year, hiking Humphreys Peak in winter requires more skills and hiking experience. In addition, there are additional dangers to hiking Humphreys Peak in winter:
- Obscure Trails. As the Arizona mountains are covered with snow in winter, you will have a harder time finding the trail to hike Humphreys Peak during this time. Therefore, you must have some experience finding a trail.
- Avalanches. Humphreys Peak is known to have some yearly avalanches. These can be potentially fatal. Therefore, you must be aware of the movement of the snow around you and check the condition of the trail before setting out. The Kachina Peaks Avalanche Center will inform you of any potential risks.
Although there are some risks to hiking Humphreys Peak, you can do so safely with proper preparation and the right equipment. Here are some tips according to experts to make your Humphreys Peak hike enjoyable and safe.
Tips For Hiking Humphreys Peak
We have already spoken about drinking enough water, packing warm clothes, and using hiking poles. However, here are some other tips to consider before hiking Humphreys Peak:
- Camping the day before. Because the altitude is such a big concern for hikers, it is recommended that you drive up to Snowball a day before the hike. Camp in one of the camping spots close to the start of Humphreys Peak. This will not only help you adjust to the altitude and make your hike easier, but it will also ensure you have an early start.
- Pack enough snacks and water. Having enough water is essential to ensure you are hydrated for the duration of the hike. In addition to water, you also need to have enough snacks to fuel your body while hiking Humphreys Peak.
- Assess your capabilities. Many people start to hike Humphreys Peak without having the required skills or fitness level. Therefore, you must do some preparation and training before attempting this hike. In addition, if you want to take your dog on the hike, you must be sure that it can also complete Humphreys Peak.
- Pack a first aid kit. As with all hikes, you should pack a first aid kit in case of any minor injuries, such as scrapes and bruises.
Humphreys Peak in Arizona is a challenging hike. It is a ten-mile hike in total and should take a hiker between six and eight hours to complete. Humphreys Peak is not recommended for beginner hikers. It is more dangerous to attempt a hike of Humphreys Peak in winter.
It is best to sleep over close to the hiking spot to adjust to the altitude and ensure you have an early start to the hike. Starting the hike early is key to ensuring you are back at the tree line before afternoon monsoon winds or lightning storms start.