Out of all the local trails near Flagstaff, AZ, the San Francisco Peaks and the Humphreys summit are my go-to for training, catching up with friends and solitary bliss. With four main routes up to the top, each trail has a spectacular offering of views, vegetation and wildlife, and always induces heavy breathing. The most popular 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 tuff. The final mile from the saddle seems never-ending at times, with multiple false summits and punishing climbs. Topping out at 12,637 feet, Humphreys 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 Model T’s to the top of the San Francisco Peaks, however, 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’ll see the luscious remains of the 500,000-year-old eruption from this stratovolcano that was once estimated to be 16,000-20,000 feet high.
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 which bring tourists from all over to gaze at their wondrous white bark against the green backdrop. In the autumn, with the turn of the leaves, the 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 Snowbowl. Finish up this amazing loop with aspen groves, ferns and meadows overlooking Flagstaff. This loop was also recently featured as a Strava Golden Segment.
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