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This is likely a great time to hike this trail!  Check out "Prefered" months below, keep in mind this is an estimate.

Black Mesa 8,168 - Navajo County HP, AZ

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Guide 14 Triplogs  2 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Northeast > Hotevilla
3 of 5 by 3
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Difficulty 3 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 8.3 miles
Trailhead Elevation 6,086 feet
Elevation Gain 2,064 feet
Accumulated Gain 2,318 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 4.5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 19.89
Interest Peak
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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23  2018-07-20
Utah/ AZ drive
15  2018-03-30
Yazzie Trail
26  2012-08-11 Jim_H
8  2012-05-30 JuanJaimeiii
20  2011-10-23 Jim_H
35  2011-09-08 Jim_H
Author johnr1
author avatar Guides 4
Routes 17
Photos 8
Trips 340 map ( 1,764 miles )
Age 72 Male Gender
Location tempe, az
Associated Areas
list map done
Navajo Nation Reservation
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   May, Sep, Oct, Apr → 7 AM
Seasons   Late Spring to Early Autumn
Sun  6:05am - 6:26pm
Official Route
1 Alternative
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Monumental Valley View
by johnr1

Likely In-Season!
Stay off private property. Property is not marked by fences. Locals are not happy with hikers. Absolutely do not approach any water tower, any home or any structure period. If you see people in the distance within a half mile of any house run(away) for your life. Due to vandalism and safety issues HAZ does not recommend this hike period!

The four corners area is a long drive for a Phoenix day hiker but the view from the top of Black Mesa is spectacular when the time of year and weather are right. I was fortunate to have a perfect day when the temperature was mild, there had been recent rain clearing the air but not leaving impassible mud and the winter rains had left a carpet of green plants throughout Monument valley. This is definitely a hike for the photographers as the views of the valley start early and just get better as you climb the trail up to the top of the Mesa. Placed boldly on the green carpet are the red sandstone monuments jutting out of the floor into the deep blue sky sprinkled with fluffy clouds. You cant see as far as you can from the top of Humphries, but you can see a lot more.

Be very careful accessing this area. Stay a quarter of a mile away from any home. Each trail follows a gentle dirt ridge and they come together about one half mile towards the mesa. Then the single trail follows the top of a single ridge towards the mountain. There is an interesting stretch where the ridge narrows to about 10 feet with interesting steep views to each side. There is a trail junction about 1 mile from the junction. Go left and follow the well marked trail. The only confusion is that it is somewhat overgrown in places which requires a bit of bushwhacking. The trail runs through a lot of shade and the views of the valley are frequent. The steep part of the trail starts as a big switchback and gets progressively steeper with shorter legs to the switchbacks until finally it pops over the top at N36 39.114 W110 16.715. Kayenta point is about a quarter mile south west but the actual summit is about 0.8 miles east along the mesa rim at N36 39.086 W110 15.784 at an altitude of 8168 feet. There is no trail to the summit but it is a nice walk in the relatively open woods. Reverse course to the beginning.

This is a hike that should be done when it is dry and spring or fall. During the summer it is hot and subject to afternoon thunder storms so it is best to start early when the air is calm, clear and free of lightning. Also, I would not try to drive the dirt roads in the rain unless you want to try out your mud tires, 4WD and high clearance vehicle.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2009-06-15 johnr1
    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.

    Most recent Triplog Reviews
    Black Mesa 8,168 - Navajo County HP
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    Yazzie Trail
    My initial planning had me taking the Peavy route up the backside of Black Mesa. There are two dirt roads that get up there. One is about 12 miles and leads to some communication towers at Lolamai Point. This road appears to be reasonably well-maintained, and reports that any gates along the way are generally unlocked. The hike from Lolamai is about 5 miles and gains only about 300 feet.

    The other road leads directly to the top of the Yazzie trail, and leaves only about a mile of mostly flat hiking to the high point. That road appears to be much rougher and has several different gates that previous hikers have reported varying degrees of locked, open, and local resident contact.

    So after I figured that the second road could get me locked out, and the Lolamai Road would leave me hiking just as far as from the bottom, I decided to just start from the bottom.

    I took @Jim_H 's advice on avoiding the local residents, but didn't feel like parking my truck where he started ... so I drove the better part of his route and parked my truck in a sheltered spot out of view of any residences nearby. This proved to be a fine plan. The trail is remarkably well-built, though erosion has worn away a bit over the years. It is still generally easy to follow with few minor hiccups. The lower ridge leaves you exposed to the supposedly unwelcoming locals, so I ascended quickly to limit my visibility until I was out of view. On the return, I opted for the Joe n JJ3 route which drops to the east side of the ridge. There's a short stretch of off-trail to do this, but you quickly regain a good trail again.

    A few patches of snow remained in the sheltered corners and I topped out on the mesa in under two hours. I first headed over to the "Kayenta" BM before heading back across the mesa in search of the high point. The summit cairn is built against the trunk of a tree that is a bit away from where it is marked on the topo map. It's relatively flat up here though, so it's not easy to discern the actual high point. After reading the register entries, I headed to the eastern rim for the killer views and some photos. I had given myself 4.5 hours to get back before dark so I didn't linger too long before heading back down.

    After having driven in via Jim's route, I decided to try to exit on the western/water tanks road. This took me directly past a home that I would have preferred not to drive past, before dead ending at a locked gate, requiring me to return the way I had come. So Jim's approach route works fine, as does the western road approach as long as you park before the gate, which is about half a mile from the water tanks. I'm not sure I'd really want to leave my vehicle in either place unattended for too long. Can you say rental? (Get the damage waiver!)

    Needless to say, I'm happy to cross this one off the list. Honestly it was a great hike. If I lived nearby and the trailhead area wasn't as uncertain (sketchy?), I'd do this one more often.
    Black Mesa 8,168 - Navajo County HP
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    This had a completely different feel to it than it did the last time I did it in May. The plain in front of the mesa is green with grass, though still over grazed, and it was very hot on it. Some Mustangs were out grazing the plain, as were sheep. It was also really beautiful with the clouds around. The hike was also more interesting than the last time I did it. Maybe it was because I hadn't hiked it in over 3 months, or maybe because I hadn't just got back from Tucson at the best time of year to hike down there, or maybe it was simply because it is summer when the wind is down, the area is green, and the clouds cast shadows over the scenery. I definitely enjoyed the scenery far more than I have in a while.

    It is very easy to avoid xenophobic home site leasers. Take the furthest east fork of the road that heads southwest from the Kayenta Monument Valley Inn, and then between an old silver single-wide trailer and a red/ maroon house, hike west to and then on a two-track. That becomes an ATV track, and then it takes you into the erosion canyon coming out of the basin at the bottom of the mesa. Once getting up into the gully, at about the same level as the large buttress of rock that sticks out from the mesa, ascend a narrow ridge, with a small pinyon growing near it's base, to a tiny level area with grass on it. Then hike from that grass level up to a second sheep trail that is lower down from the main trail. Take that to a convenient point to hike up to the main ridge. It does help to be pretty familiar with the terrain, but I was able to hike that just fine.

    I haven't really appreciated the hike for what it is. Maybe it was because I wanted it to be, and treated it like, an Elden, Humphrey, or Kimball Hike, which is it not. It most similarly resembles an AB Young, though with a long approach and no Red Rocks nonsense. I think this, because while the trail is pretty good, though rough and little more than an erosion gully in a few spots, because neither the high point nor the top is a destination in itself. It seems like the mesa has enough roads and some canyons that would be worth exploring, and the potential for exploring is something worthy of hiking up there in it's own right. I'll have to do that.

    As mentioned the hike was better that I expected. With recent rain and moderate humidity, the smells were strong; pinyon, juniper, oaks in spots, and a few I couldn't determine, but they were pleasant. The views were welcome and enjoyable. I went to the high point and saw Joe's and Juan's logs and wrote my own back to them, Juan preferred "HAZ", Joe went with the full web address. I then spent an hour at the furthest NE point and the eastern overlooks. I watched some storms move around, and some pretty good lightning south of me, a few of which hit the mesa edge. As the storm began to move closer, I moved on. An uneventful hike down, and seeing no one reminded me of Tucson.
    Black Mesa 8,168 - Navajo County HP
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    jj3 asked for a filler hike for the area. I researched this like a pro(I'm not a planner, I'm the guy that helps you with your password). Downloaded the route and said let's go. Luckily jj3 printed it out. The color of the towers changed and... well, we found ourselves waving at some locals that were signaling back in a different

    Tried to find a spot that wouldn't disturb and set out at about 5:10pm. Since I'm with the bionic camel I just took my clip belt and no pack. Erie episode number two as we passed into the Blair Witch Project (clothes tied into the trees). Just as I was about to say what in the hell are you dragging me into I realized this whole thing was my idea and shut up.

    Heading up the views looking back were pretty good. We got off track heading into the bowl. (alternative route? - - saw a high end offshoot that may connect) Back tracked out and on the ridge. The ridge is sweet. Next up you are closer to the mesa. I was surprised to see vegetation. As in oak! At this point I'm really liking the hike.

    We top out. jj3 thinks we're headed to a tiny rise to the right. I explained we needed to go a mile to the left. His eyes lit up a little as the sun was setting soon. Needless to say we picked up the pace a little more.

    Just as my track ran out I said "well I don't know if...", right then jj3 picks up the register. The "summit" for this county high point is just a cairn in the woods with no views. We signed in and had to boogie out of Dodge. Only got limited views off the edge.

    Heading down we went faster than my knee likes but didn't want to be in the witch project at night either. The northern views were friggen awesome.

    Doubt I'll be out in the area again but I'd do this one in a heartbeat if it happens. Not sure if Jim doesn't care for the permit, local scene, lack of tread or all three. Seemed better than my nearby daily options. On the same token I'm not moving to K-town* either.

    *chatted with Teddy from Tuba City heading up and gleaned interesting info from communication towers to various local businesses between Flag and Tuba

    Wildflowers: shockingly more than anticipated
    Black Mesa 8,168 - Navajo County HP
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    Started to hear some cicadas in the flat area in front of the mesa as it transitions to juniper. I stopped there to eat some lunch on the way up. Lots of birds on the north slope and on top. Went over to the eastern overlook area, and on the way I stopped at the high point with it's red cans protecting the summit log. Saw John's June 13, 2009 entry, and added my own. I hardly do that anymore. Spent an hour at the overlook and the dogs got restless. On the way down I was really hungry and it was getting late so I went to the McDonald's and some tourist started feeding the dogs thinking they were hungry. I am sure they were, but I thought it was funny. She was nice to them, so that is fine. Got the usual "sir can you spare a dime" routine, but I'm white and this is Kayenta.
    Black Mesa 8,168 - Navajo County HP
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    For the exercise to keep in shape for the big one Saturday in Tucson. A decent hike, and about all we have out here, but it isn't as exciting as stuff in the Catalinas. In fact, after being down there a week ago and hiking this today, I was left really missing nice trails. Both dogs followed today and made the mesa top. Both drank a lot of water when they got back.
    Black Mesa 8,168 - Navajo County HP
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    For a number of reasons, I hiked from my house instead of driving over to my old trailhead. Because I left from my house, Toby, one of my neighbors dogs, followed me on the entire hike. He was pretty loyal and stayed with me the entire time. I wonder if he is blind, because at one point he stopped to sniff something and when I got about 200 feet away and he noticed I was not near, he looked around with a confused look on his face. Then, when I whistled for him, he ran to me with his usual smile and tongue hanging out. He got to eat snow and roll in the larger patches we encountered on the actual trail, and I think he enjoyed the hike. The hike is fine, but nothing spectacular. From the top, I could see the wonderful dust storm of the day. From my house, I can't even see Black Mesa. I do not know how often I will hike this, but it is a good local hike to have.
    Black Mesa 8,168 - Navajo County HP
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    A perfect day to hike this. Since moving I've been overwhelmed with things to do and really haven't been hiking. I'm glad I got this in, because the warm fall weather may soon be at an end. As it was, I had to force my self to go out, but once I did I was glad, and I enjoyed a perfect day. The views were better than my first time in September, but not as good as my half-way hike a couple of weeks ago. I could see brown haze to the east blocking clear views of the La Plata sub-range. Probably from the 4 corners coal plants.

    Overall, the trail is not the attraction. In fact, it's pretty bad in some spots. Braided and confusing in some areas, and poorly defined in others. Steep and loose in the upper parts, and rocky and eroded in others. The summit isn't much either. In fact, I think I went right over the highpoint, but never even noticed. According to the posted GPS tracks, I went over it when going to a view spot on the east side. I noticed a small cairn on a rock, and that might have been it, but it was nothing impressive. Even the mesa top, for a scenic as it is, isn't really worth the effort of the trail.

    The real attraction are the views. They aren't 360 degrees, but they are impressive. Not as good as 2 weeks ago 1000 feet lower, but I could still see pretty far. Lots to look at up there, and while I won't be hiking this very often, I still plan to get out from time to time to enjoy those spectacular views. Most impressive are the Skeleton Mesa area, the Henry and Abajo Mountains, and the variously eroded terrain in the area. Really nice in a setting sun, too.
    Black Mesa 8,168 - Navajo County HP
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    I got out too late because I'm doing a lot around the house. I didn't start until 300, which was about 2 hours after I wanted to. Roads going in are noticeably rougher than last time, and they seemed to have suffered a lot with the heavy rain. If the roads are like the soil in my yard, it's a greasy mess when wet.

    I parked at the same place as last time and hiked for an hour before I realized I was never going to have enough time. I stopped at roughly 6860' and enjoyed the view. As it was, it was getting cool in the shade and I knew it would be cold on top, and I would never get down early enough to do what I still needed to do. So, I sat for a while and enjoyed the view. Turns out, there is a positive to the snow last week. I could see snow on the La Platas, the Wilson group, the Abajos, and although free of snow, I could see the Henry Mts. On the way down, I could see the La Platas all the way back to town. They went behind a hill once I got to pavement south of US 160. They were very easy to spot higher up, as is Ute Mountain, and the La Platas are just to the right of Ute Mt. The Wilson to the left of Ute, and the Abajos north of Kayenta. On the way down, a full moon rose over the Chorrizos and to their south are the Chuskas.

    This hike might be a lot like the 1000' hike on Elden, but for a number of reasons, it is not anywhere near as convenient and not likely to be hiked frequently by me. The roughest parts are down low, and just above where I turned back is where the trail gets to be a little better. Still, I would like to hike it again to make the Mesa "summit" at some point. I wore the 5 fingers both ways.
    Black Mesa 8,168 - Navajo County HP
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    I started at a gate around 5960', and I didn't bother with the actual high point. I "summited" around 5:15 Arizona Mountain Time, so I didn't have time. Instead I explored the top a little. Access was pretty good, and I met the guy who lives near the water tanks. Turns out, he works where I will, so this might be a trail I hike with some frequency. Time will tell. Will it be my new Mount Elden, or Humphrey, or just like an AB Young or Bear Mt? All the roads in are wide and reasonably well graded, if you come in from the Kayenta Inn. Only the last road, which is really a driveway to the water tanks and the group of houses, is rough, and parking near the bottom can solve that.

    I found the trail pretty easily and made the mesa top with no trouble. The Mesa is a lot drier than I expected, both this summer with a poor monsoon showing, and over all, with ponderosa pine only in the protected areas, and pinyon dominating at over 8,000'. The Douglas-firs by the trail and on the slopes leading up to the mesa look terrible, and drought over the last decade took out most of the large ones near the trail. There are still some large ponderosa pines and Doug-firs on the north slopes above the trail, but not right along it. The Gambel Oaks are shrubs and not tree like, not even as tall as on the South Rim of the Canyon.

    The mesa top had some clearing for grazing with windrow bulldozing done some time in the past. Judging by the decay of the trees and the dryness of the area, it could have been decades. My guess is that is is at least from the 1980s, but it could date to the 1970s. There is hardly any grass, just a lot of shrubs, so it seems bulldozing the pinyons was not the best idea. In the great basin, BLM managers "chained" pinyons by using two bulldozers to drag a large chain over the land and up root pinyons in the theory that removing the trees would benefit the grasses. I think that was in the 1960s. This treatment may parallel that.

    Views are great, but one sided. It didn't seem humid, so the haze might have been from the power plants, or some other source. As it was, the Chuska Mountains were barely visible, the Abajos were not, nor was anything in Colorado, even the close Ute Mountain.

    The trail is in pretty good shape, and there has been some maintenance. Not sure by who, but this has got to be used by locals and possibly for stock. There are cairns in the confusing sections and if you make your way to the narrow ridge on the west side of the large basin, you'll find the trail pretty fast. It helped that someone had been out in the last day or so and hiked this, but it is easy enough to find on your own. A "gate" of cairns marks the top of the trail and there is a nice campsite (road accessible) over looking it.

    The trail itself felt a lot like the Capitol Butte South Face in Sedona, but in general distinct and different. My first hike on the reservation.

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    FR / Jeep Road - Car possible when dry

    To hike
    Stay off private property. Property is not marked by fences. Locals are not happy with hikers. Absolutely do not approach any water tower, any home or any structure period. If you see people in the distance within a half mile of any house run(away) for your life. Due to vandalism and safety issues HAZ does not recommend this hike period!

    Drive north on I17 to Flagstaff. Take 89A north towards Page. Secure a pass for $5 per day at the visitor center in Cameron which is open Monday through Friday. Then continue about 14 miles north on 89 to highway 160. Follow 160 to Kayenta. Turn right (south) at the traffic light, then about 1/8 mile past cattle guard turn right onto dirt road. Follow dirt road towards but not to a pair of visible brown(green as of May 2012) water tanks with small green tank. Study the posted route. Stay a quarter mile away from any home. Do not approach the water towers, any home or any established structure.
    page created by johnr1 on Jun 14 2009 7:28 pm
    3 pack - loud whistle
    go prepared
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