The White Horse Hills are a series of hills rising just a few miles northwest of Humphreys Peak, the highest mountain in Arizona.
There are two summits in the hills with a prominence over 500’; and a third summit that has a prominence of about 270’. These mountains offer tremendous views and are relatively accessible and easy to hike. Only the west summit has a trail, while the others require off-trail hiking. However, the terrain isn’t very brushy, so it isn't too difficult.
The West Peak is the main summit and is at 9,065'. The East Peak is the less prominent summit, and is at 9,028'. Peak 8842 is about three-quarter miles north of the West Peak.
Summit views are excellent, with the San Francisco Peaks immediately in view; although just Humphreys Peak is seen. Many other nearby summits are in view as well.
The White Horse Hills are best hiked between early April and early November. If hiking in the heart of summer, it is best to hike in the early morning to avoid the heat and the monsoon rains.
From Flagstaff take Highway 180 and drive approximately 12 miles north of the turn off to the Arizona Snow Bowl. Take a right on FR 151E. Continue on 151E until it turns south, and continue straight on FR 418. After about two miles on FR 418, there is a sign on the left for the Arizona Trail. It is in between two of the White Horse Hills. The Arizona Trail itself isn’t mentioned, but it is a trail sign that leads to the Arizona Trail.
There isn’t immediate parking, so drive just a few hundred feet further and park on the side of the road. Hike back to the sign and start your journey.
About half a mile up from the trail sign, there is an indistinct road on the left leading up to White Horse Hills – West Peak. It appears to be an old road with plenty of overgrowth. It is easy enough to follow as it gradually leads up to the summit; gaining just over 300’ in about a half a mile. From the trail sign, you gain just 540’ in one mile to the summit.
If you hike up about 300 yards from the trail sign, you can head to the right and go straight up the White Horse Hills – East Peak, which is 9,028’. The East Peak can also be easily reached from the saddle between it and the West Peak. From the saddle, it is just 270’ up in just over a third of a mile.
Further north is Peak 8842. This is the most challenging summit. This is because it is steep on all sides. It is almost as prominent as the White Horse Hills – West Peak.
To reach it, you need to descend down to the Arizona Trail. Take a left on the Arizona Trail and hike to the base of Peak 8842. Then hike straight up 500’ in about a third of a mile. It is best to make your own switchbacks. The view from the summit is pretty spectacular.
You can reach all three summits within about 5 ¼ miles and with a gain of less than 1,800’.
There is some private land in the vicinity of the start of the trail. Be mindful of signs, and park where appropriate. Be mindful of Forest Road closures which are reported here: https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/coconino/alerts-notices/?cid=stelprdb5339811
Scott Surgent Trip Report: http://www.surgent.net/highpoints/az/range/whitehorse.html