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Need a 5 to 6 day Grand Canyon route
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Michael Whiteside
(ruralbackpacker) - F

Locale: Northern California
Need a 5 to 6 day Grand Canyon route on 04/08/2008 14:46:15 MDT Print View

Hi everyone, I am going backpacking in the Grand Canyon in a few weeks and will be getting a walk-up permit (I spoke to a ranger who assured me that it wouldn't be a problem to get a permit within a day or two).
I'd like to get some suggestions for routes. I'd like to have a least a few five to six-day possibilities so that I can have the best chance of getting a permit as quickly as possible.
I will have eight nights at the canyon, total, with at least the first and the last nights being at the South Rim. That leaves a maximum of six nights for the inner canyon, depending on when I get a permit. It will be a solo hike.
My first thought is to try for the Hermit - Tonto - Bright Angel loop, but that seems short for five or six nights. Is it?
My second thought is to do S. Kaibab - Clear Creek - Bright Angel, with exploration above Clear Creek. That sounds great but again, is that too short a span for five or six nights?
I'm trying to balance depth versus span. I could obviously camp in one spot for the entire time and have a great time exploring and settling into one spot, or I could hike miles every day. I'd like to have some balance between those two. Because I have never been to the Grand Canyon I am open to your experienced suggestions. I have books and have been reading a lot, too, but that only takes me so far.
I am open to anything that is five to six nights and starts from the South Rim near the Grand Canyon village. Please educate me.
I love solitude, so that could be thrown in the mix, too.
To give you an idea where I am at, my last trip was nine days solo in the backcountry of Yosemite, North of Tuolumne Meadows, with most of my time spent off-trail. I also backpacked across England last year, coast to coast, camping every night in my tarptent (usually in the rain). I'm comfortable in the desert environment (assuming I have water). I have a Golite Chrome Dome for shade. Anyway, that's a start.

Thank you.


Denis Hazlewood
(redleader) - MLife

Locale: Luxury-Light Luke on the Llano Azul
Re: Need a 5 to 6 day Grand Canyon route on 04/09/2008 20:53:54 MDT Print View

I've done 6 days from Monument Point on the North Rim. Two days down to Thunder River. One day down Tapeats Creek to the Colorado River. One day back to Thunder River and two days out, via the Bill Hall Trail. It's in a primitive area and you might not see anyone. It's a trip to remember.

Edited by redleader on 04/09/2008 20:54:39 MDT.

s k
(skots) - F
Need a 5 to 6 day Grand Canyon route on 04/13/2008 18:44:17 MDT Print View

Hi Michael,

I've not hiked in the GC during the April/May transition. From photos that I've seen, it looks like a perfect time to be in the canyon, but my impression is that permits for that season are hard to come by.

I could easily be wrong about this, but I think that you'll need to stay flexible about your trip in order to get a permit, that you'll end up hiking the available hike, especially since your thinking of near corridor trails. I would think that the Hermit-Tonto-Bright Angel loop, as well as Indian Garden, Bright Angel, Cottonwood, and Clear Creek campgrounds are reserved.

Depending on the time of day when you leave the S. rim, the Clear Creek use area, AK9, may be accessible by spending your first night off the Kaibab, on the Tonto in BJ9, or you may be able to spend your first night a couple miles past BA campground just inside AK9. Options for exploration around Clear Creek include up or down CC, as well as East Clear Creek, although over nights are an option only up CC or up East CC. Six nights here may be a little long, depending on your taste.

You can also access AP9 from BA Campground and explore Haunted and Phantom Canyon. From this area, depending on water levels, conditions, skill, and risk comfort, I know that you can follow Phantom Canyon (wet and walled)to its confluence with BA Creek, or make your way to the Transept near Cottonwood Campground. I have followed neither of those exit routes. Again six nights may be long.

A combination of the above could give you a bit of solitude, interrupted when hiking Clear Creek Trail, passing Clear Creek camp area, and the two trips through the noise and amenities of BA Campground. A food cache would be simple and welcome, especially if you were able to immediately secure a permit and lengthen your time below the rim.

I would quickly trade a night on the S Rim for a seventh or eighth night below, and a couple of dry camp sites may allow you that option. I don't know the current water conditions.

Despite the open ended nature of your request, I'm surprised at the dearth of response to your post. There are a number of contributers on this forum, usually quick to share their considerable canyon experience and knowledge.

Wherever,including anywhere on the Tonto,your hike will be a great experience!

Charles Grier
(Rincon) - M

Locale: Desert Southwest
"Need a 5 to 6 day Grand Canyon route" on 04/13/2008 19:56:04 MDT Print View

You might think about going down the South Bass Trail, along the Tonto Trail to either Hermit Creek or the Bright Angel Trail. You would need to find someone to drive you to the S. Bass trail-head; there are people in Tusyan (just outside the park boundary) who offer this service; contact the GCNP Back-country Office for possibilities. Water can be scarce in some sections of the Tonto so you will want to check that out with the rangers as well. I made the trip in April a few years ago and found water when I needed it. But, May is drier and some of the water sources have dried up by then. Worth a thought at any rate.

The Hermit/Tonto/Bright Angel is a nice 3 night trip and could be done in two nights(3 days).

Edited by Rincon on 04/13/2008 19:59:12 MDT.

Michael Whiteside
(ruralbackpacker) - F

Locale: Northern California
Thanks on 04/16/2008 16:17:45 MDT Print View

Thanks for the tips guys. Sorry I didn't get back to you earlier but I had a bad toothache last week and then a root canal. I'm glad that it didn't happen in the canyon.

SK, thanks for tipping me off that the BA campground might be full. I know that it would make for a long first day but I do like the idea of heading up the Clear Creek trail for my first night.

If I stayed on the Tonto trail, off of South Kaibab, do you know how far out I would have to go to be able to camp?

Thanks again. I am very excited about this trip.


Michael Whiteside
(ruralbackpacker) - F

Locale: Northern California
What I ended up doing in the Grand Canyon on 05/12/2008 10:10:52 MDT Print View

Hi Guys,

I went to the Grand Canyon between April 25 and May 3. I was limited in my options for a walk up permit but the one that I ended up with I was very happy with.

I did the Boucher trail from Hermit's Rest, down to the Colorado River, camped at Hermit Rapids the next day, Hermit Creek the next day, Monument the day after that and Salt Creek the last day. I hiked out on the Bright Angel trail.

It was my first trip in the Grand Canyon and I loved it. It was one of the best trips I've ever done.

Thanks again for the feedback.


s k
(skots) - F
Re: What I ended up doing in the Grand Canyon on 05/12/2008 17:33:55 MDT Print View

Hi, Michael,

I missed your post and question from 4/16, but I'm sure that you found the answer. From pictures that I've seen of late April wild flowers in the canyon, I'm a bit envious of your trip.

Five nights in the canyon? What was the weather like? Blooming flowers? Rain or dry?