White Horse Hills HP • San Francisco Volcanic Field
• Coconino County


The summit is to the right, as viewed from the forest road about a mile to the west
 

The initial hike up the old jeep track
 

Surmounting a ridge, the summit is in view
 

An old dead tree marks the top
 

Stick Scott and Humphreys Peak in back
 

West view: the Hochderffer Hills (left), Kendrick Peak (center) and the Thomas Lake Crater (right)
 

Northwest view of Saddle Mountain, where I nearly sliced off my finger five years ago
 

North view at some lower cinder hills, with clouds and virga
 

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Date: May 22, 2015 • Elevation: 9,065 feet • Prominence: 575 feet • Distance: 1 mile • Time: 45 minutes • Gain: 560 feet • Conditions: Sunny with cloud build-up, distant virga and strong winds

The White Horse Hills appear to be a cooled collection of magma blobs on the northwest slopes of Humphreys Peak. I am assuming that at some ancient time, a vent opened here when Humphreys Peak was still an active volcano. Some lava spewed out, forming the hills, then stopped. At least, this is what it looks like to me. The summit of this small set of hills reaches 9,065 feet. Beth and I were camping in the area, and I wanted to tag this summit and that of nearby Hochderffer Hills, giving me two 9,000-foot summits.

We arrived the day before, about 4 p.m., and drove in along Forest Road 151, then FR-418. This latter road inches upward to about 8,500 feet in elevation, on the south slopes of the White Horse Hills. We were looking for a place to camp, but there weren't many attractive options right here in the immediate area. There are private homesteads on the south side of the road, and the winds were blowing hard here. We backtracked south along FR-151 and found a secluded spot along a lesser forest road leading to "Little Spring". I set up the tent, and we had a relaxing night at camp.

I was in no hurry to get moving the next morning. I wandred around camp and the roads and let the sun come up to warm us some more. Even at 8 a.m., the sky was full of puffy clouds, and the tops of the ponderosa pines swayed in the steady winds, although were were sheltered from these winds. I set Beth up in our big tent, and left for my hikes at 11 a.m., arriving to the base of White Horse Hills a few minutes later. I parked in a small pullout near where an old Jeep track heads north. This road is now closed to vehicles, but open to hikers.

I hiked up the track to a ridge, about a 150-foot gain. Immediately ahead was the peak. Between the ridge and the peak was a scape of downed trees from a burn about twenty years ago. The road petered out amid the downed trees, but hiking by sight was easy, and soon, I found the continuation of the track, aiming for a saddle to the peak's east. Once here, I went left and found another rotten road snaking up the peak. I followed it until the deadfall was too much to manage. I left the road and went directly upslope to the top, arriving after just 20 minutes.

While the hike wasn't an epic, the views from the top were. Humphreys Peak rose to the south, its highest slopes and ridges still covered in snow, and puffy clouds collecting around its summit. Looking south, west and north, I could see the Hochderffer Hills, Kendrick Peak, Saddle Mountain, a bunch of lower cinder hills, and horizons stretching to the Grand Canyon and the Navajo Nation.

I lingered on the summit for about 10 minutes, taking photos and signing into the summit log. Not many people hike this little peak. It's easy, but it's just not that much of a draw, being surrounded by so many bigger peaks. Nevertheless, it is a worthy little hike. It certainly doesn't demand too much time.

The weather was mixed. The day was sunny, but the clouds moved through quickly and the winds were quite strong, gusting to about 50 m.p.h.. Way to the west, the sky was steely gray with no blue, suggesting an organized front, not just a bunch of random clouds. I could see sheets of virga from the clouds, too.

The descent went fast, and I was back to my truck after 15 minutes. Now, I headed a couple miles west to try my luck with the Hochderffer Hills. However, the road I wanted, FR-151S, was gated closed on the north end. I decided to drive back a mile and hike nearby Peak 8511, or as I call it, the Walker Lake Crater Rim. This would be a fast one also. I was back to camp a little after 1 p.m., still intent on hiking the Hochderffer Hills summit. See how that played out by clicking on the link for Peak 8511.

(c) 2015 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.