The Mountains of Arizona •
South KP Peak • Peak 9441 • Highpoint: Greenlee County
• Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest
• White Mountains

South KP Greenlee Highpoint, Arizona
My truck and our cabin, all snowed up and stuff
South KP Greenlee Highpoint, Arizona
South KP Greenlee Highpoint, Arizona
Scott finds the cairn
South KP Greenlee Highpoint, Arizona
Hannagan Meadow Lodge
South KP Greenlee Highpoint, Arizona
Two vehicle images, rescued from an archived site found on the "wayback" machine

All images

• • •

The Arizona
Mountains Gazetteer

Click to find out more!

Date: (1) January 14, 2000; (2) February 28, 2004 • Elevation: 9,441 feet • Prominence: 1,361 feet • Distance: 0.4 mile • Time: 20-40 minutes • Gain: 80 feet • Conditions: Cold with spotty snow in 2000, cold with lots and lots and lots of snow in 2004

ArizonaMainAZ P1KPBLoJ

Greenlee County is small sliver of land in eastern Arizona along the New Mexico boundary. The county straddles the high country of the White Mountains in its northern half, giving way to foothills and mid-sized peaks, then high desert farther south. It is Arizona's second-smallest county in area and its smallest in population, with about 10,000 people. Mining and farming are the two main industries.

The highpoint is a bump in the forest near Hannagan Meadow, not far from the highway, US-191. It is an easy highpoint to achieve. The highpoint has no name, but a nearby hill has benchmark "KP", so I call the highpoint "South KP Peak". I don't know what KP stands for. By itself, the highpoint is not worth the long drive. Fortunately, there are lots of other trails to explore, and in winter, to cross-country ski or snowshoe. When the deserts are blazing hot, this part of the state is pleasant.

First Visit, January 2000: I planned to hike Chiricahua Peak in Cochise County, so I got a pre-dawn start from my home, arriving to Rustler Park in the Chiricahus Range about 8:30 a.m. My hike was foiled almost immediately by deep snow. After sidehilling in steep, soft snow for a mile, I realized the futility and called it off, returning to my truck with a day to kill. Since I was "close" to Greenlee County, I decided to make something of this trip and headed toward the Greenlee County highpoint.

From Willcox, I went north through Safford, then northeast through Clifton and Morenci on US-191, nicknamed the Coronado Trail. US-191 wiggles along the spine of the hills north of Morenci. Out of Morenci, the road is steep, narrow and often without guardrails. Fortunately, traffic was light. I continued north on US-191 for what seemed forever, but was actually close to 70 miles of slow, twisty driving, before I arrived in the vicinity of the Greenlee County highpoint. I parked north of milepost 227 and put on my snowshoes, heading directly into the trees on an east bearing.

The hike starts into thick forest. Shortly, the trees give way to a clearing. I crossed an old fence and went up this clearing, which had some snow on it but not much. Finally, I found the highpoint in a small glade of trees, a cairn marking the top. The weather was cool but not cold, and the ground was covered in small patches of snow. I didn't stay long. It was about 2 p.m. and I had a lot of driving to do to get back home, and I was already at over 400 miles for the day.

I exited the area by staying northbound on US-191 through Hannagan Meadow, then descending into the town of Alpine, and from there to Springerville. I got a speeding ticket on US-60 between Springerville and Show Low when I came over the top of a hill too quick and there was a cop waiting for me. I arrived home after dark, 700 miles of driving total. All that for the one highpoint? I had not planned it that way, but things worked out well and I had fun, so I am not complaining.

Second Visit, February 2004: βð and I planned well in advance for this trip, intending to make a weekend out of it by staying at the Hannagan Meadow Lodge. A few weeks earlier, we had taken cross-country ski lessons in Flagstaff, and we wanted to cross-country-ski the trails near the Lodge, as well as visit the county highpoint. However, on the day we left home, a storm had moved into the state, and we had rain and light snow for much of the 260-mile drive to Hannagan Meadow. We had rain in Payson, then heavy snow as we crested the Mogollon Rim. The snow gave away to rain again as we got to Show Low, then, nothing as we passed through Springerville. But as we headed south along US-180/191 to Alpine, the snow started to come down again.

We arrived in Alpine about 7:30 p.m. and the junction where US-191 splits from US-180 and heads south into the mountains. The highway had a few inches of powdery snow on it but someone had been by in their vehicle within the last half-hour, judging by the fresh tracks. So I put my truck into 4-wheel drive and started up the highway. Hannagan Meadow was 22 miles away and about a thousand feet higher. While I had good traction at first, visibility was poor and I was worried about the road being impassable later on.

It took an hour to drive the 22 miles, but fortunately, traction was mostly good, and there were no drifts or other big obstacles. Once we got moving, it was actually peaceful and beautiful. βð was wonderfully patient with me ... and my biggest motivator. I probably would have wimped out in Alpine and stayed at a cheapy hotel otherwise. We rolled and skidded our way into the parking lot at Hannagan Meadow. The people had our key waiting for us and told us where our cabin was. We got in, started a fire, and relaxed. I was so mentally fatigued after the drive that I was unconscious by 9 p.m. For a desert boy, this was my first really intense "snow" drive ever.

The next morning, we awoke to find new snow everywhere. We walked to the lodge and had breakfast, where we were told that 8 inches had fallen during the night. However, the day started mostly sunny, with fast-moving clouds and a consistent brisk wind. After eating, we walked to the general store and rented two sets of cross-country skis and two sets of snow-shoes, all for $30. We decided to go visit the highpoint first, then come back for some skiing. I was pleasantly surprised that sometime during the night the road had been plowed, even though the sign said it probably wouldn't get any attention until Monday.

For the highpoint, we slowly drove 4 miles to where I parked four years earlier, got our snowshoes on, then started bashing through the trees. The sun gave way to clouds and snow started to fall. Shortly, we got past the trees and out into the open. The fence was still there but only its tops stuck out of the snow. The snowshoes were useful and in about 20 minutes we arrived at the top. The summit cairn poked slightly above the snow. It was serene and beautiful. We didn't stay long, and were out back to the truck, a total round trip of about 45 minutes.

Back at the truck I was surprised to see a small passenger vehicle roll up. The guy stopped and we talked. He'd driven the 70 miles from Clifton and said "it was real nasty". I was surprised that he got as far as he did without skidding somewhere. We then drove back to the Lodge and relaxed. Later in the day we went for a short but strenuous cross-country ski journey as the snow fell. Otherwise we holed up in the cabin and watched the snow fall. When that got tiring we resorted to hearty games of Boggle.

The drive out on Sunday went well. The snow never stopped falling. The lodge lady figured at least a foot of new snow. Some other motorist had attempted to drive her passenger vehicle down and got stuck and had to be towed out. As a result the tow truck driver provided us with well-packed ruts to follow out, but the first 10 miles was real soft, deep snow, so we took it slowly. But we made it, and zipped back home, spending time in Show Low for a nice lunch.

This is by no means our only two visits to this part of the state. We come here about once every couple years and explore the myriad of other attractions out this way. As for the highpoint, we just haven't worked up the energy to visit it a third time, although we've camped within a mile of it on a couple occasions. In 2011, the highpoint area was ravaged by the Wallow Fire, the biggest (or second biggest?) in state history. What used to be a mixed forest is now a scape of dead trees, although when we drove by in 2013, the undergrowth was coming back strong.

(c) 2000-2019 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.