Mileage: ~10.5 miles
Elevation Gain: ~2900 feet
A day after a fun day hiking to the highest point in Arizona, I stayed a bit lower (though not all that much lower it turned out). There is a network of other trails on Humphreys Peak besides the trail that goes to the summit, and one of them heads through the center of the caldera from the ancient volcano.From the summit the day before I could see tons and tons of green, rather unusual for a predominately desert state, and I was eager to see what was in there.
Heading up US 89 to a dirt road turn off across from the turn for Sunset Crater, I followed signs for Lockett Meadow, which is where the trailhead for the Inner Basin Trail is located. The last 3 miles are up a steep, narrow, winding mountain road with no guardrails and is a little rough and bumpy, but despite the sign saying it was not maintained for highway vehicles, I had zero trouble getting up there in my rental car (a sedan). This road is closed in winter and early Spring due to snow, but it was long open at this point of course. There are a large number of campsites scattered around the trailhead area (fee required), and it was a pretty nice looking area. There was no fee for day use parking.
In 2010, there was a massive fire in the lower elevations (the Schultz Fire) around Humphreys Peak, and it was barely stopped before it burned the Inner Basin. Along the first 1/4-mile or so of the trail, there was ample evidence that a fire had been in the area, and one area not far in was almost completely burned out, though the undergrowth had filled back in very nicely already.
|The start of the Inner Basin Trail|
|An area burned almost completely out by the 2010 Schultz Fire|
|A well in the heart of the Inner Basin - in one of the large open fields visible from the summit of Humphreys Peak in fact.|
|The main ridge from the Inner Basin|
|The old road that the trail follows, deep into the Inner Basin|
|There were lots of patches of snow still in the woods around 10,000 feet and up.|
When the old road ended, the trail swung left onto a more typical trail, and switchbacked its way up to its end, at the Weatherford Trail. This had been my goal for the day, but it was still early and I knew I wasn't too far from Doyle Saddle (11,370ft) so I headed up the Weatherford Trail to that saddle. This saddle is the one on the opposite side of Agassiz Peak from Humphreys Peak (if one is really ambitious, you can summit Humphreys Peak from here but I wasn't going that far). I was hoping for some good views from the saddle, but it was mostly treed-in, though the impressive bulk of the summit cone of Agassiz Peak, stretching 1000 feet above, is quite visible from the saddle.
|Agassiz Peak from Doyle Saddle|
|Officially camping is prohibited between Doyle and Fremont Saddles, but people clearly camp here anyway.|
|Weatherford/Inner Basin junction|
|Doyle (L) and Fremont (R) Peaks|
|Aspen glade in the heart of the Inner Basin|
|Of course I had to have one more Aspens shot! This was along the merged Waterline/Inner Basin Trails.|
|This hike in red, the day before to Humpreys Peak in blue.|