6 days in the San Francisco Peaks/Mt Elden near Flagstaff

11:39 a.m. on August 2, 2011 (EDT)
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A friend and I are planning a 6 day/5 night hike up and around the San Francisco Peaks and Mt Elden here near Flagstaff next week. We will start up at a area called Shultz Pass, up to Agassiz Peak 12.356', then up to Mt Humphreys 12,637, the highest point in Arizona.

The San Francisco Peaks are a ancient stratovolcano last erupting about 250,000 years ago. The most recent volcano cone nearby erupted in about 900 AD called Sunset Crater.


Mt Elden from the flanks of the San Francisco peaks.


Mt Humphreys on right and the San Francisco peaks from the north


Mt Humphreys from te trail from Agassiz Pass


The Peaks under a blanket of snow


The Peaks from my house in Flagstaff last spring


View from Mt Humphreys looking SW. Agassiz Peak on right, Doyle Peak rounded on left center. Mt Elden in center lighter bluegreen


View from Agassiz Pass looking SW

In two weeks I will put up a Trip Report and lots more images from the hike. The above shots are from previous hikes.

12:17 p.m. on August 2, 2011 (EDT)
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Good time of year to hike the Peaks. Any snow left up on the backside?

8:32 p.m. on August 2, 2011 (EDT)
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Not sure have not been to that side since May. I should be able to tell you after the hike.

1:08 p.m. on August 4, 2011 (EDT)
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With my constant worry about water I was wondering whats your plan for water resources on this trip? Im sure you can find some if there is still snow melt, but if not and no rain then what?

3:23 p.m. on August 4, 2011 (EDT)
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The route we are taking goes by many springs. And its the Monsoon season now, it rains everyday usually in the afternoons and at night.

We are going to start by circumnavigating the Peaks around from the SW side to the NW,NE, E and SE sides, then hike up to Doyle Saddle to Agassiz Saddle then to Mount Humpheys, then back track and take the Weatherford Trail up to Mt Elden and down the Elden Pueblo/Fatmans Loop Trail.

Except for when we go to the top of Humphreys and Elden we will stay about 9000 feet on the flanks of the peaks.


The beginning is off US180 on the left SWside and we will come back down on Hwy89 on the lower SE right.

2:46 a.m. on August 5, 2011 (EDT)
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After looking at my post again It sounded like I was questioning your plan or ability. I apoligize if it came across that way, was not my intention. I still consider myself a student in this game so was looking to pick your brain :)

I had several Springs marked on my last trip but didnt need to use them. Now I wish I had taken the time to just investigate them. I have complete confidence in my abilities and knowledge of the outdoors but Im having trouble with trusting that Spring on the map to give me water. Ive seen lots of dry springs, dont want to strike out on say 4 of 4 and be up %#@&* creek with out any creek!

Sounds like it should be a good trip and you will probably have some rain this time of year.

12:51 p.m. on August 5, 2011 (EDT)
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I think we will do the trip in 5 days instead of 6 as my friend is coming up from Phoenix Monday afternoon. I would like to start early in the morning so we can be in the tree's  and on the main trail within a hour or so. Monday afternoon may be hot or raining already. We will play it by ear where we will stay the first night, then look at the maps that evening/next morning to decide where we will set for hiking goals each day. Much of the routes actually follow old logging roads from the 1800s and roads built where pipelines were built to springs, especially in the inner basin and around the sides of the peaks.


Like on this map the red highlighted trails along the east and north sides of the peaks are roads built to springs and the inner basin is a bunch of road built to the base of the high peaks above and the springs there.

Mt Humphrey's can be seen left of center in the white area. And the route/trail we will take from Shultz Pass is seen coming in from thebottom of the map near Weatherford Canyon.The trail entering on the left comes up to Agassiz Pass from the ski area.

Maps I made in www.mapcard.com

7:43 p.m. on August 6, 2011 (EDT)
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Yeah driving from Phoenix makes it a real drag when wanting to hike up that way. For me its about 3 hours to get to most TH's up that way. Makes for a long ride home when beat up and tired after too.

Have you been on these trails before?

12:59 p.m. on August 7, 2011 (EDT)
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Mt Humphrey's is just right of center between the long and two small snow patches. The above image is from 6/15/2010. Its about 500 feet from the lower snow patch to the bottom edge of the upper one.

I have done the east pipeline road a couple summers ago on my mtn bike. And have been up the Elden Pueblo Trail on the east side of town and up the trail from Flagstaff Snowbowl to Agassiz Pass. Its been about 20 years since I last hiked the Weatherford Trail to Mt Humpreys.

90% of where we will be hiking will be on old logging roads and pipeline roads built in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The only trails we will take will be from Shultz Pass to Mt Humphreys and up and over Mt Elden the last couple days of the hike next Thursday,Friday and Saturday. I figure we will camp at Doyle Saddle 11,354' and dayhike to and back from Mt Humphreys.


Doyle Saddle is on the lower right, Agassiz saddle is where the "P" is in PEAKS and the trail to Mt Humphreys doesn't show on this map but heads north from Agassiz past the 12098 and 12297 peaks.

In 1996  a friend and I did this hike but from the top of the Snowbowl Skilift inside the red halfsquare to the left of Agassiz Peak then hiked up to the peak and over, but now because of a endangered high alpine flower this route is closed.

Also in 1996 when we did this route we scrambled down into the inner basin to the right of Humphreys and  followed the road there out to the east side of the peaks. At that time in June 96 there was still a large snow pack coulair that we were able to walk down easier than the talus slope around it. The snowpack was quite deep at that time of year.


The area we scrambled down was from the pass just left of the word PEAKS and the three arms of Flagstaff Springs below on the right.



In the two above views in topo and aerial Humphreys is seen close up. Humpreys is between the long snow patch with the line thru it and the two smaller patchs lower right.

I am looking forward to the cooler air and the views from the top of the peaks. Thursday is supposed to be clear. The Grand Canyon (80 miles), Navajo Mountain (100 miles), the Bill Williams Mountains (40 mi), the Mogollon Rim and Sedona (20 mi) should be visable from the top.

5:54 p.m. on August 7, 2011 (EDT)
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Have been going over the topo maps (paper ones) today, there also seems to be a lot of cattle tanks, look like small ponds along the way. Most have been dug to hold water, some are natural in old low cinder craters. Will have my Katadyn water filter for these.


Map shows Potato, Pat and Elizabeth Tanks near the White Horse Hills (cinder cones) and creekThe white and grey line going left to right is an old logging road.


The red line is our route on the old logging roads. The White Horse Hills are in the center of the map. The San Francisco peaks are at the lower right. All the smaller hills are old cinder cones around the upper left. Most are interesting to look around and climb. The second youngest cinder crater called SP Crater is 70,000 years old (since its last eruption)


SP Crater on left with its 4 mile long lava flow. The volcano is 800 feet high and its inner crater is 400 feet deep. The lava flow is between 55 and 280 feet thick.  North is to the right in this image. Another friend and I hiked up the crater last October. Its about 10 miles NE of the peaks. The crater below just right of the distance legend has eroded straight through its center.

We should be able to see this and all (most) of the volcanos and cinder cones around the peaks, including also Sunset Crater which is the youngest volcano erupting between 1040 and 1100 AD.


Sunset Crater 8,042 feet above sea level. The trees on its lower left side are Ponderosa Pines, cedars and junipers.

When it erupted it buried many ancient indian villages under volcanic ash and cinders. In the distance on the horizon can be seen Navajo Mountain (10,388')about 100 miles away on the right above the east edge of Sunset Crater.


Navajo Mountain and Lake Powell as seen from the north looking south.

10:54 p.m. on August 7, 2011 (EDT)
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Man O Man really makes me miss Flagstaff! I lived there from 01' - 08'.

Never did much hiking while there but did alot of day picinic style trips and would go camping quite abit around the back side of the peaks. Did a couple of Elk hunts over by Saddle Mnt. off Hwy 180. Ex mother inlaw lived over in Cosnino, had a beautiful view of Sunset crater off her back deck. We did do the skilift in summer a few times, what an incredible view!

Looks like you've definitly done your homework for this one. I dont know about up there but when I did my trip on the Mormon Lake trail all the cattle tanks I came across were dry. Well except Alan Lake and Marshall had a little water in them but that didnt do me much good being that one was at the very begining and the other at the end. Im sure I coulda found water if really needed do to all the recent rain. Doubt you'll have any trouble with that.  Probably gonna be a little windy at those elevations, huh? Bet Temps will be just right tho.

12:27 p.m. on August 8, 2011 (EDT)
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Well I am carrying two single liter bottles and one 2 liter CamelBak. It rained a lot last week and the weeks before especially in the peaks so am hoping the tanks will have something in them.

Temps in town are supposed to be around 80 today and when we get on the route tomorrow we will be at about 8000-9000 feet most  of the way around the peaks. So it should be well covered in forest and cooler. Be nice to see the pines and aspens again. I have not been up in the peaks since last fall when the aspens were in color.

Some one I talked to yesterday said they saw a mountain lion near the pipeline road on the east side near the inner basin and a black bear in Shultz Pass, a few days ago.

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