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As someone who recently summitted Humphreys Peak for the first time in Sept. 2021, this is a must-do if you are in the area. 

Before getting into the nitty-gritty details, here is a bit of background to get you to fall in love with the highest peak in Arizona. 

Humphreys Peak sits at 12,633 ft and the hike gains a little over 3,300 ft in elevation. The Coconino National Forest is home to many volcanoes, one of which is an ancient stratovolcano that formed the San Francisco Peaks, the tallest of which is Humphreys. 

The trail begins at Arizona Snowbowl ski resort and is highly trafficked so there will be plenty of fellow hikers on the trail most of the year.

Water is crucial. Between the elevation and dry Arizona climate partnered with wind, plenty of water is needed. The time needed to complete this hike is no joke unless you are in peak physical shape with plenty of running experience at high elevations. Plan to spend your whole day on the mountain. 

Once hikers reach the saddle there are multiple false peaks that allow the excitement to build up, but that excitement quickly dissipates as another peak forms in the distance. 

At the summit, the wind and coldness begin to set in, and if hiking in the months following July the chance of a monsoon increases. This means jackets, gloves and possibly a beanie. 

The very last tip I will leave is to take breaks. If you think you need it, you do. The worst situation one can put themselves in is getting to the top by wearing themselves out to the point they are not able to enjoy it. 

If you have trekking poles I highly recommend bringing them or renting a pair. After the saddle, the environment turns to tundra with slippery rocks and what feels like a continuous set of stairs for the next mile. 

Finally, if you do not have time or the capabilities to hike to the very top, during the summer Arizona Snowbowl runs a daily gondola ride that takes you very close to the height of the saddle and the views are quite spectacular as well.

Emily Gerdes

Northern Arizona '23

Emily is a junior at Northern Arizona University getting an Honors degree in journalism/political science with a minor in photography. When Emily isn't working or at school, she spends her time exploring the outdoors, catching up on reality TV or baking. One day, she would love to work as a photojournalist at National Geographic or as the White House photographer.
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