Hualapai Peak • Highpoint: Mohave County
• Range Highpoint: Hualapai Mountains
• Hualapai Mountains Park

Date Climbed
1. May 13, 2000
2. October 18, 2003

8,417 feet

8 miles round trip

5 hours

2,200 feet

Very nice the first time,
unseasonably warm (but
nice) the second

4,437 feet

Click on the thumbnail to see a full-size version

The Hualapai Mountains from Kingman

The summit from halfway on the hike

The final push to the top

Summit close-up

Beth relaxes near the top

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Hualapai Peak is the highest peak of the Hualapai Range, which runs south of Kingman in northwest Arizona. A county park with campsites sits below the peak and is a popular summertime getaway spot. The hike to the top follows trail, an old road, and a bit of bushwhacking and rock scrambling at the very top. Much of the route is interspersed with massive granite rock extrusions, and the views (in parts) are quite dramatic.

First visit, May 2000: The Spring semester at ASU had just ended a few days earlier and I was intent on getting away for a few days to visit with my folks in Henderson, Nevada, and to do a bit of hiking. On the agenda for this trip were Hualapai Peak in Mohave County, Arizona, and Signal Peak in Washington County, Utah, both about equidistant from my parents' place in Henderson. I left my home in Chandler on the 12th and made the 300-mile drive up to my folks that afternoon. When I arrived, I found out from my dad that my sister-in-law Diana (my brother Chris' wife) was in labor with their first child, and that my mom had already left for Southern California to be present for the birth. I considered putting off my Hualapai hike but my dad said she might be in labor awhile and to go for it. So I did.

The next morning I drove back down the 100 miles to Kingman, then south another 12 miles to the Hualapai Mountains County Park. The plan was to meet up with Ken A., with whom I'd hiked before, and a group of hikers he was leading from a hiking club in Tempe. I showed up at the trailhead about 30 minutes late, saw Ken's vehicle and a few others and assumed they'd already started in, which was fine with me. I got packed and started in myself about 9:30 in the morning.

I started up the Aspen Peak trail, located past a gate spanning a road past numerous campsites and cabins. The trail gains at a pleasant to moderate grade and bypasses some huge rock slabs seemingly just plopped onto the mountainside. After 0.9 mile, the trail comes to the Potato Patch trail junction, where I turned left. This section traverses on the east and south faces of Aspen Peak, with superb views along the way. It passes a bench and a simple rain shelter, where views of Hualapai Peak are now possible. It then starts a decline for a short bit to a point where it meets an old forest road.

The temptation here is to stay straight and climb up to Hayden Peak, which is the peak immediately north of Hualapai. Presumably, one would traverse the ridge from Hayden to Hualapai, but a quick visual inspection of the ridge shows numerous large rocks and cliffs, not to mention lots of brush, standing in the way. Armed with Bob Martin's Arizona's Mountains book, I knew to hang a hard left at this junction, and follow the road due south as it descends even more. The total descent is roughly 300 feet, then the road makes a quick steep ascent to a small saddle. This point is about 3 miles from the trailhead and 1 mile from the peak.

The remainder of the hike is up this very poor-quality, steep road. Erosion has exposed the bedrock and trees now lie in the road, so I'm assuming they (whoever they are) are letting the road simply "return to nature". In any case, I hoofed it up this very steep bit all the way to its end at a small shack and antennae set, just below Hualapai's summit, still a good 100 feet up. I backtracked about 200 feet to the last switchback in the road and started up through a thick stand of brush and rocks. It was fairly short but fairly thick, and a hive of bees nearby forced me to go heavier into the brush to avoid them.

Finally, I found myself high on the ridge and just a few feet below the summit slab. After some careful scrambling I was now at the slab. To attain the top requires a nimble set of moves, as the slab is about 6 feet high with some good quality holds, but with some exposure, too. I was able to get my knee up onto the slab, view the benchmark (actually, a witness marker), then hoist myself down. I didn't want to take my foot out of a good foothold, but I definitely had my weight up on top. Good enough for me! I then sat on some nearby rocks and relaxed, ate some lunch and took in the views. After a few minutes I started the descent.

I got down onto the road and down another couple hundred feet when I finally met up with Ken, who was by himself. Now... he'd left before me yet I hadn't seen him the whole time. We got to talking and I discovered he'd taken the Hayden Peak route and spent an hour or so doing unnecessary bushwhacking while trying to make the traverse before simply descending to the forest roads below. Good old Ken. Well, I let him be on his way and went on mine, arriving back to my truck, a total of 5 hours of hiking, 8 miles round trip and about 2,200 feet of gross gain. I stopped for gas in Kingman and called to see if I was an uncle yet. Nope. But when I got back to Henderson about 90 minutes later, I heard the good news. Chris and Diana welcomed little Emma Lee Surgent into the world that afternoon. I happily canceled my Utah hike and went with my dad the next day to meet and greet the new sweetheart!

Second visit, October 2003: I returned to this peak with my wife Beth as we wanted to get out of Chandler for the weekend. We drove up to Kingman the night before, taking a somewhat longer but more scenic route through Prescott, Chino Valley, Ash Fork and Interstate-40. We stayed at the Hotel Brunswick in downtown Kingman. The Hotel was built in 1909 and has been upgraded to today's standards, although it maintains much of its original appearance and charm. And it was pretty inexpensive, too. We started our hike the next morning, in no particular hurry. We got started on the hike about 10 a.m. in clear conditions... maybe just a tad warmer than we expected.

We followed the same route as I took in 2000, since there really is no other route. We made good time, but the flies were incessant and drove us nearly insane. What is it in my ear they want so badly? In any case, we found ourselves at the base of the final scramble, and started in. I changed into long pants, while Beth scampered up and out of view, maybe just 20 feet away. The brush was thicker than I recall, and we found ourselves contorting and squirming to get past some minorly brushy sections, but we did well.

We got to the base of the summit slab. I did the same thing as I did before, which was get most of the way up and tag the top. Beth, more limber than I, chimneyed up between the slab and some nearby rocks to get her head about summit-high, from whence she simply reached up and tagged the top, too. We then scampered up the nearby set of rocks where was sat and relaxed and tagged the actual benchmark. The views on this clear day were outstanding. Wabayuma Peak was to our south and Hayden toi the north. We could make out Kingman and the Cerbat Range to the far north. We then made our way back down and hiked out, all without a hitch other than the dagburned flies. About 6 hours round trip for us.

We spent the night in Laughlin after driving through the ghost town of Oatman with its tame burros, then went down to Lake Havasu City the next day to visit the London Bridge. It was quite warm, about 100 degrees in late October. We then spent the rest of the day making the long drive home.

(c) 2006 Scott Surgent. For entertainment purposes only. This report is not meant to replace maps, compass, gps and other common sense hiking/navigation items. Neither I nor the webhost can be held responsible for unfortunate situations that may arise based on these trip reports. Conditions (physical and legal) change over time! Some of these hikes are major mountaineering or backpacking endeavors that require skill, proper gear, proper fitness and general experience.