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Yazzie Trail, AZ
mini location map2018-03-30
15 by photographer avatarchumley
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Yazzie Trail, AZ 
Yazzie Trail, AZ
Hiking avatar Mar 30 2018
Hiking9.31 Miles 2,522 AEG
Hiking9.31 Miles   4 Hrs   2 Mns   2.34 mph
2,522 ft AEG      3 Mns Break
 no routes
1st trip
Partners none no partners
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.
Championing breakfast since 1994.
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