Humphreys Peak, Abineau (Arizona), Reese (Arizona), Agassiz (Arizona), Fremont Peak, Doyle Peak (Arizona)
By: Ted Brasket
Two routes for Arizona's six highest peaks from the east side - These routes begin from the beautiful, undeveloped camp sites at Lockett Meadow. Elevation 8600 ft. The camp sites are under large Ponderosa Pines. No tables or water. Most have rock fire rings. There is a toilet at the trail head but was out of order. Tom Sumner met Jeanette Vincent and I at camp .25 miles before the trailhead. These routes have it all. Fine camp sites, great hiking through the forest, including the longest stand of the biggest Aspen we've seen anywhere. Makes fantastic fall colors. The Inner Basin opens up a few miles into route two. You're able to see every high peak and ridge in this range from the basin. Then there's Beard Canyon on route one, big walls, rock formations, weather sculptured Bristle Cone and last but not least are the far reaching views from high up on the ridges and from the summits.
Drive route to Lockett meadow - From exit #201 on I-40 east of Flagstaff take highway 89 north for 13.8 miles. Turn left toward the peaks on an excellent dirt road. (This turn off is .8 mi. past the Sun Set Crater junction.) Drive 1.2 miles to the signed Lockett Meadow road on the right side. Drive this steep good dirt road 2.8 mi. to the beginning of a one way loop around Lockett Meadow. Beautiful camp sites are located around this loop. The trailhead and trailhead parking are .4 mi. from the begin-ning of the one way loop. The trailhead is a closed road behind the outhouse just right of the loop road.
From the trail head walk around the gate and follow the road 1.5 miles to a spring with two green building on the left and out-house on the right. There's a cross road junction at this point. Avoid the Bear Jaws Spring road to the right. Across the junction a few feet the road you're on turns right for 50 ft. then back left. In a short distance the road forks. Bear right at this junction and stay to the right at one more junction farther on. In 30 minutes + or - from the green buildings there's a galvanized precipitation gauge on a 10 ft. tower. Leave the road on the right side and follow the clear spot a short distance. Beyond some trees is a line of short poles supported by rock cairns. Follow the pole line several hundred feet then turn right up hill on an old road bed to a "Beard Spring" sign. The elevation at this point is 10,200 ft. Beard Canyon begins here. Follow this Canyon staying left against the steep bank all the way up. Don't be tempted to take the large washes coming in from the right. When you come to a dry waterfall It's CL3 on stable rock up the face or continue up and around a big log and on the CL2 ledges to the top. Continue on up the wash to a 5 ft. waterfall. Stay in the a short distance until the Canyon opens up with high walls in front of you and Beard Canyon swings left. Exit the wash left climbing steeply up along the edge above Beard Canyon. Elevation at the exit point is 10,800 ft.
Here is where the heavy breathing exercises begin. It's 1800 ft. to the summit in about .75 mi. Continue climbing up near the edge of the canyon .25 mi. where you encounter high vertical walls. Head for the right end of the wall above the canyon and go left along its base to a slot between the walls. (Heading for the daylight in the slot too soon puts you out into loose junk.) Fifty feet above the slot you're out of the heavy forest. It's a fine place to stop and look around at this beautiful rugged scenery. The ridge is narrow here and on the north side it cliffs off into Beard Canyon. The notch on the south side drops down in spectacular vertical rock chute. Just above this notch is a continuous rock rib running up the ridge. Six feet from the near end is a small unlikely looking notch about 8 ft. up. Go over the rocks at this point and down the other side to safe going. Don't be tempted to skirt the rocks on the right side. It leads to the cliffs above Beard Canyon. After a short trip up loose lava you get on a good stable ridge held together by beautiful Bristle Cone Pine. This ridge goes directly to the summit. No false peaks on this route. What you see above you is it. If you want a much shorter day and want to take the alternate route marked on the map back to the canyon and to the road, you can study your descent route across the canyon from this ridge.
Our time from camp to summit at Humphreys: 3 hr. 35 min. moving time; 4 hr 5 min. including a 10 and 30 min. break.
From Humphreys the route is obvious down the N.E. Ridge and over Abineau and Reese Peaks. After a steep 1000 ft. drop the ridge turns into a long stable boulder field then it's up and down back and forth around beautiful Bristle Cone on the ridge over Abineau and Reese Peaks.
From Reese Peak follow the compass bearing on the map through the heavy forest on the descent. At the 9500 ft. elevation you cross Bear Jaws Road. Cross the road and jump off in the boulders staying on 110°. This bearing will take you back to the trail head road about .5 mi. above the trail head and back to camp. (10 miles, 5000 ft.; 6 hr. 15 min. moving time; 8 hr. 55 min total time)
The alternate route would burn less energy, gain 1000 ft. less elevation, need fewer breaks if you just want the DPS listed Humphrey's Peak. The alternate route brings you back into Beard Canyon below the 3rd CL waterfall and is a short distance back to the road for a fast return to camp. Alternate route: 10 ml., 4000 ft.
It would combine great with Navajo Mt. You would cut miles and time off the drive to Navajo Mt from this side of the range. Plus fine camping with plenty of room for a group. Our route avoids the continual stampede of people wanting to climb Arizona’s highest peak from the Snow Bowl up the trail.
From the same trail head follow the route one directions 1.5 miles to the cross roads and green buildings. Continue up the route one road a short distance and take the left hand road at the junction. This will take you the full length of the beautiful, open, Inner Basin. There are several lesser roads going off to the right to dif-ferent springs. Stay left to the end of this road. A narrow trail goes sharp left and into heavy vegetation near roads end. This road hasn't been in use this far up and has vegetation growing on it. Keep a sharp eye to the left or you may not see the duck on the ground at the beginning of the trail. Follow this switch back trail up through beautiful forest. There's a junction high up. Go right and on up to the 11,354 saddle between Fremont and Agassiz. It's a 1000 ft. gain from this saddle to the 12, 358 ft. Agassiz Peak summit on a steep stable ridge. Back down to the saddle and up to the 11,969 ft. Fremont summit is a 700 ft. gain. A 1200 ft. drop on a challenging ridge puts you on the saddle between Fremont and Doyle. The gain to Doyle is 800 ft. The high point on the long Doyle summit is on the north end. Following a 10° compass bearing off the end of Doyle will take you down a steep ridge to a road S.E of the spring, 1.5 miles from the trail head. Look for a gate across this road. There's a trail there that will take you down to the road and back to the trail head. (12 miles, 5500 ft. 7 hours of moving time, 9 hours. 25 min of total time)
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