Irony: I had planned on a trip to Flagstaff to visit Philomena Springs on the Peaks, for about a month, but decided to drive to Kingman to hike this loop instead, as the forecast was for cold temperatures on the Peaks. I also had no real desire to revisit the Mazatzals so soon, which I had considered doing. Either way, the forecast for sun and mild gave way to increasing storm chances as the hike day approached. By the time I was out there, I had barely any sun, it was cold for me (but likely still warmer than it would have been on the Peaks even at 11,600') and I had hail, some passing rain, and cold wind on any summit or high ridge. I guess the gods didn't want me to have what Todd and Kyle had 2 weeks ago, out here, or myself and Linda had the same day in the Mazatzals. Oh, well.
Todd's loop from 9/24 and his photos of great views with excellent sky conditions had me excited to head to Kingman (yes, really) to explore this range I had never visited, despite expressing a desire to do so 8 years ago. The hike is solid, the park pretty nice, the range interesting, and the views on a nice day are probably very worth it. I followed Todd's loop route exactly as he hiked it so I could use his stats, but also as it was a pretty good loop, and nothing here is ever very long. Counter clock-wise on the Potato Patch Loop, Aspen Peak, Hayden via the road, than a cut over to the Tipton overlook using the Upper Dinosaur Trail, down the road and up the slope to Hualapai Peak, and back to the trailhead finishing on the east side of the Potato Patch Loop.
I was not really surprised it was over 13 mile, but I don't really feel like it was over 4,000' of AEG. Still, I trust the GPS route and stats, and rolling terrain is generally easier to take than a steep up and down. I wish I had those clear blue skies, long distance views, and pleasant hiking conditions, but I guess it was better than a trip to the Peaks, and I did get to use my poncho for the first time this year, as I had good fortune on the Peaks for every Humphrey summit, or I was smart and didn't hike there in the Monsoon season. I took advantage of the storm shelter below the Tipton Overlook and ate lunch for about 10 minutes during the hail storm, and even though I considered skipping Hualapai Peak, I scrambled to the summit of that through New Mexican Locust, as I was there and could tolerate the cold wet wind for a little while. I was in shorts and t-shirt for this.
I highly recommend this hike, but also recommend better weather! I guess I could have canceled my hotel reservation, but I didn't want to, and in the end, I did something new.