County Highpointing (or COHPing) is the pursuit of standing atop the highpoints of the 3,142 counties within the 50 United States. How one gets there is not so important, you just have to stand atop it (or put any body part over the top). Most counties have obvious points or summits that can be recognized as the highpoint, while those at lower elevations may have dozens of possible locations, all of which are required to be reached in order to claim an ascent. Add to this that a county is a man-made political boundary often without consideration of the physical terrain that underlies it, and you can see what gives this hobby the aura of the bizarre among climbers and other outdoor enthusiasts. Probably no other outdoor pursuit will do more to entice you to visit areas of the state or nation that you would never have considered otherwise, and therein lies the reason for its growing popularity.
There are many county highpoints that are less than thrilling and don't even represent the best highpoint in a specific county. Yet there are others that will make you work for every foot and are great mountains to climb. The Grand Teton is a county highpoint, as is Mt. Rainier and Mt. Hood. Perhaps we can share our enjoyment of county highpointing by pointing out some of the difficult ones that aren't lofty or alpine but yet are hard and difficult to get to the top of. Little Blue Peak in Yolo county California comes to mind. An excellent resource on this already exists at the County Highpointers website
but since Summit Post is really oriented to the peaks and mountains, this site will try to serve by pointing out those county highpoints that are true mountaineering /climbing challenges as well as good hiking efforts.
Highlighted states have their own individual COHP pages on SummitPost.
Apex HPsThis list of the 20 toughest HPs in the US, from www.cohp.org, excludes counties from Alaska (which are in a class by themselves). Bob Packard is the only person to have climbed all of these peaks, the most recent, Kawaikini, in Feb 2006. When asked to rank the 20 peaks in terms of effort, Bob was unable to make such a fine distinction between individual peaks, but was readily able to bucket them in groups. Bob Bolton has climbed 16 of them, providing his own relative rating, as have Mark Wetters (10) Bob Burd (8) Greg Slayden (12) and Edward Earl (19). These are presented below, from easiest to hardest. If you have climbed more than 5, we'd appreciate your input on relative effort (combining technical difficulty, time required, and route-finding challenges) in a comment to this page. Hopefully an accurate assessment of relative difficulty will emerge over time.
Books that are oriented to County Highpointing
County Highpoints by Andy Martin 126 pages of lists covering every state in the union. Available from Andy at:
Old Adit Press
3030 N. Sarsaparilla Pl.
Tucson, Az 85749
The last price I saw on this book was $12, a must have if you are interested in county highpoints.
California County Summits
by Gary Suttle. This book created a lot of interest in California and has been the "Bible" of California county highpointers. Originally produced in 1993, it is a little out of date but still helpful in the majority of the counties. Amazon has a few used copies in stock at this writing.
Hiking Colorado's Summits
, A guide to exploring the county highpoints by John Mitchler and Dave Covill.
High in Utah
by Weibel and Miller. This book and another one called Hiking Utahs Summits
are responsible for the flurry of activity in Utah where many devotees have occupied themselves with chasing after the county highpoints of this varied and super scenic state.
Arizona may have a book forthcoming in the near future about its county highpoints and that would be a welcome addition as the highpointer who is putting this guide together has extensive experience with the Arizona county highpoints. Stay tuned for that one.
A map that will astound you
Want to see what a serious county highpointer can do? Look no further than this map
which details the effort made by Bob Packard.