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Isolated Laccolithic Gem
You really have to want to hike Navajo Mountain. Hours from anything, the drive may be longer than your hiking time. Coming from relatively local Kayenta, AZ, it still took over 3 hours round trip to drive there and home. Expect 4 hours from Page, AZ, and 5 hours of round trip driving from Flagstaff. It's isolated, no doubt about that. I suspect that is a large part of why until I wrote this, there was no description. Still, it is actually a surprisingly good hike, and the views from the lower and middle sections are really nice. The summit is covered in dense trees and radio towers, but there are some views in a few spots. While I never got there due to time constraints, I have been told a short distance north of the towers there is a view point where one can see Rainbow Bridge and Lake Powell. Views from around 8500' to 9100' are spectacular.
Most of the drive in is paved, and it is only the last 2 miles or so that are dirt. I got my car to the trailhead, so you really should not have any trouble getting to the hike, or near enough to hike from very close to a paved surface. Surprisingly, there is cell service, so if you run into trouble you'll have that small comfort. The over all hiking trail is a pretty good dirt road to the summit. It is probably the only access trail to the top, and locals tell me it is the the old "War God Springs" trail, as the road passes a spring of that name. Perhaps in the past there was a different trail, or maybe an old sheep/ cattle trail that was expanded to produce the road, but either way the terrain around 90% of the mountain is so steep and rugged the road accesses the only large ramp to the top, and therefore it is logical to assume this is the only way to access the mountain. One could drive to the summit in a high clearance vehicle, but why drive out here not to hike?
Lower views reminded me of Sedona and Zion, with a journey to the top of Kendrick Peak near Flagstaff. You begin in open pinyon and juniper, which progresses to a forest of pines. The ponderosa pine forest in the middle elevation of the mountain is old growth with an unburned but still very nice and open composition. There is no evidence of logging, and many of the old giant trees are still there. Nothing is really that big, but they have the old growth characteristics many people enjoy. There is evidence of fire in the past, but nothing has happened for decades, so there is shrub and juniper encroachment. Both of these two areas should have abundant flowers in June, and in later Monsoon season.
Above the pure pine, you progress into a mixed conifer forest that transitions rapidly to a spruce-fir forest with a heavy aspen component. Views are non-existent, and hiking through here to the top is either for fall color that should be quiet impressive, or to claim the summit. The hike is pretty enjoyable.
Arriving on the summit is a little bit anti-climatic. Still, you have arrived. I imagine it was what Mount Elden was like before the June 1977 Radio Fire. There are towers, and some slim views through the forest, but nothing that great. There is no fire tower for an expansive view. It could use that. Return the way you came.
Elevation gain and AEG will depend on your parking location. There are a few spots where elevation is lost, so I added in some conservative extra for the AEG total. There are mileage markers on the road, and it appeared to be 5 miles from the parking area to the top. This would be a good hike for a high quality synced GPS track just to see what the data looks like, but then what longer hike isn't? You will probably see no one else out here, and you'll want to plan accordingly. It may have a hunter component in fall, as there were tracks on the road.
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