This is the seventh in a series of my adventures to visit as many of the fifty US states’ highest points as I can. Last time we took look at two trips to visit the southern Appalachians in 2010 and 2013. You may have noticed that most of the stories have revolved around a specific trip to visit many sites in one big trip or take advantage of the fact that I’m in the vicinity of a high point. This time we will take a look at those high points I detoured to see because I was doing something else and it was nearby.
The states covered in this episode are Arizona, Delaware, Hawaii, Indiana and Ohio.
If you’ve ever traveled out I-40 west towards Flagstaff, about fifty miles out you begin to see a lone peak growing bigger as you make your way west. This is the highest point in Arizona, Humphreys Peak, 12,633 feet above sea-level. In September 2004 I was part of an Arkansas group that was headed to Havasupai. We had a second bunch on our permit from Tennessee and had to wait a day for them to fly to Las Vegas. To use our time wisely, we decided to take a look at the area around the mountain.
When we arrived, most of the members decided they would explore the Arizona Snow Bowl ski area, while Eddie Vollman and I hiked the nearly 10-mile round trip to the top of Humphreys. The trail to the top is a steady climb from the Snow Bowl parking area until you reach the tree line. From there on the progress is slow as you walk across large fields of scree rock. You had to make sure your footing was firm on nearly every step until you got near the top.
About 5 hours after our start, we reached the summit and had a wonderful view of the entire northern Arizona area: Sedona to the south and Lake Powell to the north. The decent was uneventful and we got back to our group about 4 pm. September 4, 2004 Arizona became my third high point.
On the first day of summer of 2009, Meribeth and I had just returned from dinner and were relaxing in our motel room in Concordville, Pennsylvania. We had just spent a wonderful day visiting Longwood Gardens, about 30 miles southwest of Philadelphia.
While resting, I was looking at an atlas to plot our next day’s travels and noticed that just a few miles away was the highest point in the state of Delaware. We still had 90 minutes of daylight left, so we jumped in the car and made the 6-mile trip to 2715 Ebright Road in Wilmington, home to the Ebright Azimuth, 448 feet above sea-level. When we arrived, all we saw was a bus stop bench and a monument marker. This can’t be right, can it? It was! The actual high spot is a surveying point located in a nearby trailer park.
The monument sign is located next to a Septa bus stop, a few yards away from the survey point and asks that you not enter the neighborhood to go looking for it. This whole area is a very level plain and several spots could be a foot or two higher according to Lidar surveys, but surveyors have named Ebright Azimuth as the state high point. On June 21, 2009, Delaware became my ninth high point.
Hawaii is one of those high points that you either make a dedicated trip to do or make time from a vacation to visit. The high point is on the less visited Big Island of Hawaii. Meribeth and I wanted our first trip to Hawaii to be “the real Hawaii” not some beach resort that are found everywhere, so in December of 2015 we made Hilo our base to see the big island.
I found out that to travel the road leading to the top of Mauna Kea you had to have four-wheel drive, so I arranged for a Jeep to be our rental car. Everything on the big island is reachable within 3 hours and the Jeep came in handy for visiting other areas that only four-wheelers could visit.
Mauna Kea is 13,796 feet above sea-level, but from its base on the seafloor, it’s the tallest peak in the world at 33,465 feet of change. A
dormant volcano, it is also home to several observatories on its summit. Because of this, you can drive all the way up on the access road and then make a short hike over to the high point.
From the summit you can see the entire island, from Hilo to Kona and to Volcanoes National Park. Since the weather was cooperating, we went to the top our first full day on the island. It rains a lot on the peak and in December it can even snow. I dropped Meribeth off at the Visitor’s center as she was having breathing problems and made the drive up to the summit to get the photos. On December 6, 2015, Hawaii became my 22nd high point.
I attend a gathering of friends every spring in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. There are three main routes you can take to drive there from Little Rock and one goes near the high points of Indiana and Ohio. In March of 2016, I took the route that uses I-70 to get to Harrisburg and made my overnight stop at Richmond, Indiana. This would put me about 13 miles south of Hoosier Hill, Indiana’s highest point, 1257 feet about sea-level.
The next day I would take the short drive north through the eastern Indiana farmland near the Ohio line. The site is located just north of a dairy farm, which is the biggest thing you can see from the wood thicket that the marker is in. This is an easy one to visit as you get out of the car and take the photos. Having gotten Hoosier Hill before 10am, it was time to get back in the car and make the 80-mile drive east to get Ohio’s high point. On March 8, 2016, Indiana was my 23rd high point.
Having just bagged Indiana, my goal for the rest of the day was to drive east to get Ohio’s high point, near the city of Bellefontaine. The route took me through farmland for the most part, but as you near Bellefontaine you notice the terrain becoming more hilly. In fact, just a couple of miles from the high point is a popular ski area. Campbell Hill is located on the campus of Ohio Hi-point Career Center and you can drive up to a park where the monument is located. The view is mostly to the north of Bellefontaine and the farmland beyond.
At 1550 feet above sea-level, Ohio’s high point and Indiana’s are two lonely summits that are more than 350 miles from the next nearest high points. I took my photos and then headed for Columbus for a late lunch with a friend and then on to Harrisburg, Pa. On March 8th, 2016, Campbell Hill, became my 24th high point.
All of these states had high points that you had to make an effort to visit because they are out of the way for someone from Arkansas. Arizona was the only one that has a high point you may actually go by on a regular basis.
My next edition will cover the trip I made in 2018 to New England and the eight high points that I attempted to visit in one trip.