There are in fact three trails to the top of Humphreys Peak; in addition to the Humphreys Peak trail and the Weatherford trail, it is also possible (and increasingly popular) to hike to the top from Lockett Meadow. The Inner Basin Trail winds from Lockett Meadow at 8600 feet up into the Inner Basin, where it eventually joins the Weatherford trail at the saddle between Agassiz and Fremont peaks.
June and October are the best months to hike Humphreys Peak. Both are generally very warm, clear, and snow-free. July through September is the monsoon season in Arizona, bringing severe thunderstorms, hail, and even sleet to the peaks on almost a daily basis. Summiting is still possible during these months, but it is advisable to be on your way down no later than 10 or 11 in the morning to beat the storms.
If you plan to begin a hike or climb of Humphreys from the Snowbowl ski area during the ski season (generally late December through early April), a Wilderness Permit is required. The permit is free, and can be obtained either from the Peaks District ranger's office or from one of the rangers to be found along Snowbowl Road or at the lower ski lodge during business hours. When hiking or climbing with a wilderness permit, you are required to sign in at the register box next to the lift ticket windows at the lower lodge.
I have found the best Winter ascent route to be as follows:
From the lower trailhead, follow the trail roughly 2 miles to the third switchback after the lower trail register. The trail has almost always been tracked by hikers in snowshoes within a few days of a snow, so following the trail this far is rarely a problem. At the third switchback, head directly up the narrow rockfall.
Once you reach the trees, bear left at a 30 degree angle and continue several hundred vertical feet until you come to a large clearing. This is where the famous bomber wreck is located. Head for the upper left corner of the clearing; this is the most direct path to treeline, and puts you close to a long, very easy ridge which leads straight upslope to the trail just below the summit ridge, which it meets at about 12,200 feet.
Turn left and follow the trail and/or the snow atop the summit ridge all the way to the summit; be careful of snow cornices atop the ridge, and be prepared for howling winds anywhere along the ridge.
Upon descending, follow the summit ridge all the way to the Humphreys-Agassiz saddle. Continue traversing onto the slopes below Agassiz until you are directly above the ski slopes, then glissade, sled, or ski down to the slopes and follow them back to the lower lodge. Note: I do not know if the required Wilderness Permit will satisfy the ski patrol if they find you walking or sledding on the ski slopes, so be discreet and be careful!
This is really good info, but how about putting it in the routes section? Then if you have some photos of it you can post them on your Route page.
On December 28, we attempted to visit Humphreys. The road to the Snowbowl was gated and locked. Talking to a local at a motel on the highway, this is normal when the ski area is not open. He wasn't sure if it was due to snow, or simply always that way after a specific date.
The week previously, I had a phone conversation and discussed permits with the Forest Service, and they told me I would have no problem getting to the Snowbowl. Apparently they are unaware of the policies.
Thanks for posting this. I was unaware the road closes sometimes. I don't even recall seeing a gate that can be locked. Where was the gate? At the turnoff or further up the road?
Since Humphreys is located in a National Forest, you can pretty much camp anywhere, certain restrictions applying, of course.
I was a little concerned I wouldn't find camping near the Weatherford Trail for my alpine start - but there were plenty of small Forest Roads offering plenty of places for dispersed camping. I'm sure the same holds true near the Humphreys trailhead.
Check out this website on rules & regs on dispersed camping:
Climbed the san fransico peaks last week, tuesday and wednesday. Weather was pretty windy on tuesday with about three hours of sleet the size of rock salt. The weather cleared about six o'clock in the evening with clear skies. Got up at about five wednesday morning and hit the snow at about six for my trek to the top. The snow was perfect, consolidated and frozen from the previous night. Made the summit at about eleven in the morning. It was beautiful, not a cloud in the sky and just the normal wind on the ridge line. Had the summit all to myself, there wasn't another climber anywhere on the mountain. In the right weather and snow conditions this makes for a very nice climb in the snow!!
One pretty much heads across the ski run area several hundred yards and then enters the forest at the small trail sign. Ten yards further there is a large wooden sign reading "Kachina Peaks WILDERNESS.". In about 10 to 15 minutes you encounter one of the trail register boxes next to another wooden sign reminding you what the name of the wilderness area is!
The asu.edu address is no longer a valid link. http://www.az2020.org/ is the current address.