Sitting at 10,423 feet is Kendrick Peak, an underrated trail located in Flagstaff, Arizona. It sits- yes you’re reading this correctly- in part of the San Francisco volcanic field. The volcanic field spans for 1,800 square miles between the Kaibab and Coconino National Forests in Arizona.
Kendrick Peak has a long history, dating back to the 1900’s when the first Lookout Tower was built at the top. The tower has since been rebuilt and still operates today.
The famous Humphrey’s Peak and Grand Canyon can be seen from the summit. In order to reap these rewarding views you’ll have to put in the work- are you ready for the challenge?
KENDRICK PEAK STATS
Distance: 9.3 miles RT
Peak Elevation: 10,423 ft.
Elevation Gain: 2400 ft.
Type: Out and Back
Location: Kaibab National
Forest in Flagstaff, AZ
Trailhead: Kendrick Trail
Dog Friendly: Yes, leashed
Note: There are 3 different trails that lead up to Kendrick Peak. This trail is the most popular of routes. If you’d like to try one of the other options skip ahead to “Nearby hikes”!
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GETTING TO KENDRICK PEAK TRAIL
You can map your directions right here, or visit the map at the end of the post!
From Flagstaff take Hwy 180 North. You’ll continue past the turn for Arizona Snow Bowl and turn left onto FS 193 which is between mile markers 232 and 233. After about 3.1 miles there will be a T in the road, turn right onto FS 171. Continue for 2 miles you’ll turn right onto FS 190 and about 1/2 mile later you’ll turn right into the Kendrick Peak Trail parking lot.
All forest roads are well maintained dirt roads with great access to dispersed camping spots along the way!
WHEN TO HIKE KENDRICK PEAK
Spring, summer, and fall are the best seasons for hiking to Kendrick Peak. If you visit during the summer be sure to watch out for the higher temperatures and late afternoon weather changes. July and August are monsoon seasons in Arizona and a rain storm in the late afternoons are common at this elevation with little to no warning!
The trail has minimal shaded spots and is open to the sun 80% of the time. If hiking during the summer with your dog, the sandy trail will be baking in the sun so I highly suggest bringing dog boots along with.
As always, it is best to begin this hike early in the morning due to the length and the potential for rain storms in the late afternoon. The parking lot is a decent size and was not nearly full when I arrived on a Saturday morning. You’ll most likely only see a couple other groups during your visit.
HIKING KENDRICK PEAK TRAIL
At the trailhead there is a map of the area. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to become familiarized with it or snap a photo before you begin!
Along most of your trek you’ll get to witness the aftermath of the Pumpkin Fire which burnt through the area back in 2000. Tree trunks are still charred from the blaze and many parts of the mountainside are now clear, providing amazing views along the way.
Kendrick Trail is very well groomed and easy to follow, eliminating any confusion. Once you make it out of the charred forest you’ll start to see the wilderness come to life with some pops of color from the grass and wild flowers (in the summer).
The trees are still charred at the bottoms but I think it is cool to see how the environment naturally recovers itself!
You’ll begin climbing elevation from the very start of the trail. Overall it is about 2400 ft in elevation you’re climbing in a long series of switchbacks. Don’t try to count these and just go for it!
The landscape varies often and there will be plenty of clearings you can stop at to take a break and take photos… or catch your breath. Overall the elevation gain is gradual but there are a few steep climbs.
At roughly a mile away from the top, or 3.65 miles in, you can see the Kendrick Lookout Tower in the distance. That is your final destination!
Once you come across the old cabin you’ll be able to see the Lookout Tower above and straight ahead. It is just another mini series of switchbacks, climbing the last bit of elevation and you are there.
This part of the climb I thought had some of the best views! So don’t forget to pause to turn and look out behind you, or enjoy them on the way down.
You’ll come across an intersection where the Pumpkin Trail, the 2nd of 3 trails leading up to Kendrick peak, joins. It is well marked so just be sure to turn right and continue up the switch backs.
Sooner than you know you’ll find yourself at the base of the Kendrick Peak Lookout Tower! The original tower was placed here in the 1900’s and it is still used to this day!
The operators at times will allow guests to climb the tower for even better 360 degree views, but at times it may be closed to visitors. There is, however, a small landing at the top of the steps they let you stand on to snap a quick photo! Just don’t go past the gate if they have it closed.
Please take note that the operators live and work in the tower for months at times, so this is their home. Don’t forget to be considerate of their time and space when visiting.
The views at the top were more impressive than I imagined, even from the concrete viewing point. The only shaded area at the top of Kendrick Peak is under the Lookout Tower, but this area isn’t very busy so there should be room for you to rest and eat a snack!
If you look to the east you’ll be able to see Humphreys Peak in the San Francisco Peak Wilderness, and to the North on a clear day you’ll be able to see as far as the Grand Canyon.
Once your eyes have filled themselves of the views, you can head back down the way you came. Monty and I ended up running the last 2.3 miles down in order to beat a rain storm that was coming through, so for us the decent went by super fast.
There are 3 different trails that summit Kendrick Peak. The trail I covered, and the most common, is Kendrick Peak Trail. But if you’re interested in experiencing a different way, and most likely a less populated trail, you can look up these two:
- Pumpkin Trail- Approx. 9.6 miles round trip which brings you through the most severe part of the 2000 Pumpkin fire.
- Bull Basin Trail- Approx. 9 miles round trip, however many reviewers state the trail is not well maintained.
About an hour drive over to the San Francisco Peak Wilderness is Humphreys Peak, THE largest peak in Arizona. On the eastern slope of the San Fran Peaks is the Inner Basin, a shorter hike which embarks from a beautiful, quiet campground worth visiting or staying at!
FINAL THOUGHTS ON KENDRICK PEAK
I’m not going to lie, this hike took me by surprise. When I first saw photo’s of the top I thought “oh, a big concrete slab and expansive views with hardly any close mountains…”
But the views at the top were WAY better than expected and the views along the trail make it worth the effort. This trail was fun, challenging, and beautiful all the way up to 10,432 feet!
Kendrick Peak has made its way to the top of my list for hikes in Flagstaff.
As always, please be considerate of the environment so we can keep enjoying it and remember to leave no trace.
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