The Toes, as they are locally known, are the furthest southwest extension of the Comb Ridge, or Comb Monocline. They sit above old town Kayenta off of US 163 and behind the Wetherill Inn, Kayenta Elementary School, and the Indian Health Service Housing. Views are pretty good, and to the south is Kayenta, Black Mesa and a vast plain, known as at the Chinle Valley, which stretches well beyond the visible Corrizo and Chuska Mountains. This plain extends south of Canyon De Chelly, the Defiance Uplift, Interstate 40, and goes all the way to the White Mountains, if you care to know, but you'll never see that far away. Skeleton Mesa Dominates the western view, and between Skeleton and Black Mesa is Marsh Pass. To the north is Laguna Creek and a basin with sedimentary layers you'll encounter commonly around Mexican Hat, UT. Monument Valley is only slightly visible. On a good day, you can see higher terrain in Utah and Colorado, as well.
One really nice thing about this area, is even though it is on the Navajo Reservation, it's open to the public as recreation area for the IHS staff, so you don't need to concern yourself with a Navajo Recreation Permit, if you normally would do such things. The hook is that due to the parking being on IHS grounds and the gate being opened and closed daily by the Clinic Security, you'll want to be out before dark, and it may be best to check in with the Clinic Security to find out when they plan to lock the gate that particular day. I have been told it is open everyday, but during daylight hours only. Still, it wouldn't be hard to jump over the fence if locked out. Because this hike requires no permits, it may be perfect for someone passing through the area or visiting Monument Valley and looking for something to do before or after their visit.
The hike has a trail for only a very short part. Mostly, this is slick rock and rough rock off trail exploration. You can make what you want of your trip and go where you want to for the best views. You might want to budget at least 2 hours to explore and take your time. From the clinic and the parking area, there is an obvious rounded summit. This does not appear to be accessible just by hiking, and it is not the true summit of The Toes. The true summit, is 4 feet higher than this rounded summit and is over some smaller hills to the west. It sticks out a little into Laguna Creek, forming an overlook down into the drainage. A second accessible summit like area, only 42 feet lower than the true summit, is just to the east, and the rounded mound of rock mentioned earlier is to the east of that. There is a large tank that appears to be natural in the center of the area, and numerous hills and portions of ridge to explore.
Your trip will depend on what you do and where you go. The description Stat reflect a straight shot to the true summit and back, with no other exploration. Record appropriately and return to your car parked at the gate.
Gate Policy: If a gate is closed upon arrival, leave it closed after you go through. If it is open, leave it open. Leaving a closed gate open may put cattle in danger. Closing an open gate may cut them off from water. Please be respectful, leave gates as found.
To hike From US 160 and US 163 in Kayenta, head north on US 163. After the traffic light in front off the Best Western/ Wetherill Inn, turn north onto a road with a sign for a NAPA auto parts store. Pass the NAPA and continue north to the 4 way stop sign. Proceed thru, and you are now entering the IHS housing area and the remains of the old (soon to be demolished) BIA Boarding School. Go over the cattle grate after the stop sign and take the first left, proceed on this road and the it will curve to the north and enter the older trailer section of IHS housing. Park in the area at the square dead-end. Go through the gate and hike on the well defined trail towards The Toes. This gate is the Toes Gate. It is opened and closed daily by the Facility Security, so you may wish to check in at the Clinic to see when it will close. Generally, is it open during daylight hours.
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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