Humphreys Peak

Humphreys Peak

A Beautiful Sunset on Mount Humphrey near Flagstaff, AZ. | Matthew Mellinger

Humphreys Peak, a prominent landmark in the state of Arizona, holds the distinction of being the highest natural point in the state, soaring to an elevation of 12,633 feet above sea level. This remarkable mountain is part of the San Francisco Mountains, a volcanic mountain range located in the Coconino National Forest in northern Arizona. The San Francisco Mountains, which are remnants of an eroded stratovolcano, are made up of six individual peaks, with Humphreys Peak as the tallest among them. The peak has been named in honor of General Andrew Atkinson Humphreys, who was a distinguished U.S. Army officer and topographer during the Civil War.

The rich ecological diversity of Humphreys Peak and the surrounding San Francisco Mountains has led to the establishment of the Kachina Peaks Wilderness Area, encompassing over 18,000 acres of pristine wilderness. The area offers a wide variety of flora and fauna, including ponderosa pine forests at lower elevations, transitioning to mixed conifer and spruce-fir forests at higher altitudes. The unique alpine tundra ecosystem near the summit is home to several rare and endangered plant species.

Hikers and outdoor enthusiasts flock to Humphreys Peak for its challenging trails and stunning vistas. The most popular route to reach the summit is the Humphreys Peak Trail, which begins at an elevation of 9,300 feet and traverses approximately 4.8 miles to the peak. This strenuous hike gains over 3,300 feet in elevation and offers breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding landscape, including the Grand Canyon to the north and Oak Creek Canyon to the south.

In addition to hiking, Humphreys Peak and the San Francisco Mountains are also popular destinations for other outdoor activities such as skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing during winter months. The Arizona Snowbowl ski resort, located on the western slope of the mountain range, provides a variety of winter sports opportunities for visitors.

Humphreys Peak, as the highest point in Arizona and the crown jewel of the San Francisco Mountains, offers a wealth of recreational opportunities and awe-inspiring natural beauty. This iconic peak attracts adventurers from around the world and serves as a testament to the rich geological and ecological diversity found within the state of Arizona.

Fast Facts

Flagstaff, AZ after a snow storm with Humphreys Peak in the background. | Red Lemon

Country: United States

State/Province: Arizona

Mountain Range: San Francisco Peaks

Parents: San Francisco Peaks

Elevation: 12,637 feet / 3,852 meters

Prominence: 6,039 feet / 1,841 meters

Isolation: 245.85 miles / 395.66 kilometers

Nearest Higher Neighbor (NHN): Burwell Peak

Fun Fact: Humphreys Peak is the highest point in the Kachina Peaks.

Flora and Fauna

Humphreys Peak is home to a diverse and vibrant ecosystem that boasts a rich variety of flora and fauna. Located within the Kachina Peaks Wilderness of the Coconino National Forest, this remarkable peak stands at an elevation of 12,637 feet, providing a unique environment for both plants and animals to thrive.

Beautiful Engelmann Spruce and Tall Ponderosa Pine Tree on Mountain | Brenda Landdeck

The flora found at Humphreys Peak can be categorized into distinct zones based on elevation. At lower elevations, one can find a dense forest of ponderosa pines which eventually transition into a mixed conifer forest consisting of Douglas fir, white fir, and Engelmann spruce as the altitude increases. As one ascends further, the subalpine zone emerges, characterized by bristlecone pines and limber pines that are adapted to withstand harsh weather conditions. Finally, nearing the summit, one encounters the alpine tundra zone with its hardy grasses, sedges, and wildflowers such as alpine forget-me-nots and sky pilots. These distinct vegetation zones create a unique mosaic of plant life that supports a wide array of wildlife.

The fauna inhabiting the areas surrounding Humphreys Peak is equally diverse and fascinating. Among the mammals that roam these slopes are elk, mule deer, and the Abert’s squirrel which is endemic to this region. Black bears and mountain lions also inhabit this area, although sightings are relatively rare. Smaller mammals such as red squirrels, chipmunks, and various species of mice can be observed scurrying through the undergrowth.

Birdlife is abundant in the forests surrounding Humphreys Peak, with prominent species including Steller’s jays, Clark’s nutcrackers, and mountain chickadees. Higher up in the alpine tundra, one might spot horned larks or even the elusive American pipit. Birds of prey such as red-tailed hawks and golden eagles can also be seen soaring above the peak.

In addition to the mammals and birds, Humphreys Peak is home to a variety of reptiles and amphibians. One can find the Arizona mountain kingsnake slithering through the underbrush, while the Arizona tree frog and tiger salamander inhabit the wetter areas near springs and streams. The peak also serves as an important habitat for various species of insects and butterflies, which play vital roles in pollination and maintaining the health of the overall ecosystem.

Humphreys Peak offers an incredible showcase of flora and fauna that reflects the unique characteristics of this high-altitude environment. As one ascends through the different vegetation zones, a diverse array of plants and animals can be observed, each uniquely adapted to their specific habitat. The rich biodiversity found at Humphreys Peak serves as a reminder of the importance of preserving and protecting these precious ecosystems for future generations to enjoy.


Humphreys Peak Trail, located in the majestic San Francisco Peaks of northern Arizona, offer hikers an unparalleled opportunity to experience breathtaking views, diverse ecosystems, and a challenging endeavor to reach the highest point in the state. The most popular and well-known of these routes is the Humphreys Trail, which takes adventurers on a journey through lush forests, alpine meadows, and steep terrain before reaching the 12,637-foot summit.

The Humphreys Trail begins at the Arizona Snowbowl ski area, where hikers will find ample parking and facilities. The trailhead starts at an elevation of 9,300 feet and immediately enters the dense, mixed-conifer forest. The first 2 miles of the trail are characterized by a moderate incline as it winds through the forest, offering glimpses of wildlife such as elk, deer, and various bird species.

As hikers progress along the Humphreys Peak Trail, they will encounter a change in vegetation as they leave the forest behind and enter an open meadow known as the “inner basin.” Here, the landscape transforms into a vibrant array of wildflowers and grasses during the summer months. This area also offers the first views of Humphreys Peak looming above.

Trail Sign to Humphrey’s Peak Arizona | Cavan-Images

The ascent becomes steeper as hikers continue on the Humphreys Trail, with switchbacks providing a more manageable means of conquering the elevation gain. The trail is well-maintained throughout its entirety, but it is important for hikers to come prepared with proper footwear and clothing to navigate the rocky terrain and potentially unpredictable weather conditions.

Upon reaching the saddle between Humphreys Peak and Agassiz Peak at 11,800 feet, hikers will find a junction with the Weatherford Trail. Staying on the Humphreys Trail requires a turn to the right at this junction. From here, trekkers will experience the final push to the summit, which involves navigating a series of false peaks before ultimately reaching the true summit of Humphreys Peak.

The views from the summit of Humphreys Peak are nothing short of awe-inspiring. On a clear day, visibility can extend for hundreds of miles, offering panoramas of the Grand Canyon, the Painted Desert, and the surrounding peaks of the San Francisco volcanic field. The sense of accomplishment and connection with nature that is experienced while traversing Humphreys Peak Trails is truly unparalleled and well worth the effort for any outdoor enthusiast.

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