Fremont Peak may be overlooked by most who hike the San Francisco Peaks, with many hikers wearing their Humphrey blinders. I can't blame them, but those hikers loss is your gain and Fremont Peak is a great summit with a lot of solitude. At 11,969', or just shy of 12,000', it really is a solid alpine summit, and it shouldn't be overlooked or considered an easy hike because it is lower than Humphrey, as it is mostly off trail. With the winter road closure and monsoon season, this hike is best in fall, from late September to late November or early December. If you are out here during the Rut, you'll definitely hear and might see lots of Elk. The evidence is everywhere, as they love the grassy south faces of this mountain.
The hike begins from Schultz Tank, where you will hike up the Weatherford trail for a couple of miles, passing the Kachina Trail junction, and continuing up Weatherford Canyon. At the sign-in box, you can either go directly up the grassy slope which is above you on the right, or east side and is a west facing slope, or you can continue on the Weatherford Trail up several gently switchbacks to the same spot. When the aspen are at their peak, the trail is probably better.
At the top of the grassy slope, continue to head up hill in the general direction of north, and up! You will cross the trail several more times, but from here you are now entirely off trail. The lower areas of the middle section of the hike are various meadows and grassy slopes with trees and small patches of forest interspersed. As you cross through these, you gain altitude and eventually you'll come out on to long ski slope like swaths of grass.
Once in any one of the long ski slopes of grass, you need only hike up to reach the summit. Yes, it is steep, and you will have to work your way through a few more areas of trees, some of which are bristlecone pines and are very windblown. There are a lot of thorny shrub patched in spots near treeline, and you will have to make your way through some of these.
As you near the summit, some small boulder fields and scree slopes need crossing, with a thin and rugged ridge of rock being the last real obstacle you need to traverse. Once on the summit, take in the grandeur of Peaks, and use caution returning to your car. The slopes are steep, there are lose rocks in lots of places nicely hidden in the tall grass, and there are ungulate pellets everywhere, and they act like ball bearings underfoot!
Of note, there is Sennecio on Fremont, so take care not to step on that plant. Fremont is not off limits at any time of year, but it is nice to protect what the Peaks has.
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This is a moderately difficult hike.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.
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