Forum Index » General Lightweight Backpacking Discussion » Grand Canyon backpacking route (4 days, 3 nights) - would love suggestions!


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Artia L
(artia) - F

Locale: SoCal
Grand Canyon backpacking route (4 days, 3 nights) - would love suggestions! on 06/11/2011 11:50:45 MDT Print View

Hi all,

I'm from California and am planning on going to the Grand Canyon in early November. Have been backpacking at many national parks over the years but surprisingly haven't done an overnight at the canyon. Was hoping you guys could provide suggestions from your own experience. We'll be a group of 4 people all in relatively good shape and are looking for a trail that offers very rewarding views, lighter crowds, and possibly hit the river/waterfalls on the way. Also, if we don't have to carry our water supply the entire four days that'd be a plus! :)

I know the South Kaibab -> Bright Angel route is a popular one in the corridor trails but am looking for something more off-the-beaten-path (though still a maintained trail). Also since we'll probably be going fairly late in the year we'll probably have to stick with the South Rim. Also last point: many of my friends have been to Havasupai so probably not an option :)

Would love any suggestions you all have that have hiked the grand canyon!

Artia

Edited by artia on 06/11/2011 15:58:52 MDT.

Scott Truong
(elf773)

Locale: Vancouver, BC
RE: "Grand Canyon backpacking route (4 days, 3 nights) - would love suggestions!" on 06/11/2011 21:27:37 MDT Print View

PM sent. My only experience camping, but well worth it:

My version of the Escalante Route the end of April.

Another Escalante Route Trip done by another member in June (I think).

Just pack light, and make sure your shoes are good or at least bring moleskins. Pretty much a trail, nothing common sense can't take care of (follow the cairns or river).

Totally worth it though, very easy logistically. You don't even really need a map, but it's nice to have one. The only one I know of is the Natgeo map, but I really didn't use it for navigation. More just to have a very general idea of where I was.

Edited by elf773 on 06/11/2011 21:29:36 MDT.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Try this on 06/12/2011 00:20:56 MDT Print View

Day 1 > Backpack down Kaibab Trail, cross Colorado River on footbridge and camp at Phantom ranch.

Day 2 > Hike 9 mi. to Clear Creek camp (or do "Day 3")

Day 3 > Hike back to Phantom Ranch and camp (or pay to send your pack up on a mule and hike out W/ daypack to South Rim in one day)

Day 4 > Hike to Indian Gardens and camp

Day 5 > Hike out to South Rim

This gives you two options to use to limit it to 3 nights. But 4 nights is more fun.

HK Newman
(hknewman) - MLife

Locale: Western US
Re: Grand Canyon backpacking route (4 days, 3 nights) - would love suggestions! on 06/12/2011 09:45:41 MDT Print View

The canyon is pretty different and yes, there's a cutoff where they close the north rim. If this is your first visit, stick with the corridor, so agree to the above plan, except you can stay at Bright Angel Camp instead of Phantom Ranch if you can't get a reservation for the later, but still take in the ranger lectures, Tecates in the Phantom Ranch canteen after 8 pm, etc..

ADD: Speaking of reservations, get them quickly.

Edited by hknewman on 06/12/2011 10:13:56 MDT.

Elizabeth Tracy
(mariposa) - M

Locale: Outside
Boucher/Hermit Loop on 06/13/2011 11:02:47 MDT Print View

For "More off the beaten path, but still maintained" I recommend the Boucher/Hermit loop.

Day 1 - hike down Boucher Trail, camp at Boucher Rapids (awesome camping!)
Day 2 - hike to Hermit Camp
Day 3 - hike the Hermit Trail back to your car.

Water is easy at these campsites. You make this a 4-day trip by taking a layover day at Boucher Rapids and exploring west along the Tonto Trail (or whatever its continuation is called); or taking your layover in Hermit Camp and exploring east along the Tonto Trail to some amazing viewpoints.

The Escalante Route is awesome too. But the Escalante is a rugged cross-country route, and you wanted maintained trails. The New Hance Trail that you'd probably use to access the Escalante, while not as rugged as the Escalante itself, is also not a maintained trail. If there is even one person among your 4-person group who tends to get grumpy when they have to do route-finding or slide on their butts, they will be much happier on the Boucher/Hermit.

Elizabeth

Will Webster
(WillWeb) - M
Hermit Loop on 06/13/2011 11:19:19 MDT Print View

Last November, after consulting with the great folks at hikearizona.com, my wife and I did:

Day 1: Shuttle bus to Hermit Rest; sunrise on the rim; hike to Hermit Rest campground, make camp and hike to Hermit Rapids and back.
Day 2: Hermit to Monument; make camp and hike to river and back
Day 3: Monument to Indian Garden
Day 4: Sunrise at Plateau Point, then break camp and hike Bright Angel trail back to car

Day 2 is pretty short but there's no safe water between Monument and Indian Garden, and it was nice to have a day to putz around. The trails were in good condition. We saw very few people until we got to Indian Garden; it and the BA trail were packed. We ran out of superlatives for the scenery.

Tonto plateau

Charles G.
(Rincon) - M

Locale: Desert Southwest
Boucher - Bright Angel loop. on 06/13/2011 11:42:03 MDT Print View

One of my favorites is to hike down the Boucher trail to Boucher Camp for the first night. Then, hike the Tonto Trail from Boucher camp to Monument Creek to spend the second night. Hike from Monument Creek to Horn Creek where there is a lovely shady campsite for the third night. Then, to finish the trip, hike from Horn Creek to Indian Gardens then up the Bright Angel trail to the top. There is reliable water at Boucher Creek, Hermit Creek, Horn Creek and Indian Gardens. At high flows, the water at Horn Creek is mildly radioactive but at levels where drinking a few liters of it should not be harmful. You can park your car at the Back Country Office parking lot and take a shuttle bus to Hermits Rest and the Hermit/Boucher trail head. I am hoping to get a permit for this loop for this coming October.

Denis Hazlewood
(redleader) - MLife

Locale: Luxury-Light Luke on the Llano Azul
Re: Boucher - Bright Angel loop. on 06/13/2011 21:19:04 MDT Print View

Thunder River via the Thunder River Trail or the Bill Hall Trail. Very remote off the north rim.

Jim MacDiarmid
(jrmacd) - MLife
Re: Grand Canyon backpacking route (4 days, 3 nights) - would love suggestions! on 06/14/2011 11:44:23 MDT Print View

I'm looking at a Grand Canyon trip myself from Sept 16-25, so I'm reading all these suggestions with interest. I did the South Rim to Cottonwood to Phantom and back out 10yrs ago, and I'd love to go back, especially now that I'm UL(pack was about 40-45lbs for a 2 nighter back then; synthetic generic sleeping bag, 8lb 3-person car camping tent, 2lb inflatable pad, 6.5lb EMS backpack.etc) and in much better physical shape. Back then I thought just because I was young and thin I was fit. I can't find my map from back then so I need to order another one so I can look at these routes being suggested. I'd love to go Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim and at about 50 miles, that seems doable with 5-6 days to work with.

I asked this question in my own trip suggestion thread, but has anyone done the Arizona Trail between Flagstaff and the Canyon? I'd love to hike from there and shuttle back rather than shuttle both ways. I'm aware of the AZ Trail website and I still need to join so I can see the more detailed info.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
GC on 06/14/2011 12:27:15 MDT Print View

Three south rim options in ascending order of difficulty:

For those in casual backpacking shape:
-Main corridor, something like what Eric suggested above. Getting campground space in mid-Sept might be tough.

For those in good backpacking shape (can do a 20 mile day in the Sierras, no problem):
-Down New Hance, across Tonto, up South Kaibab.

For those in serious backpacking shape (30 mile days in the Sierras), with good nav skills and at least one rock climber in the group:
-Royal Arch route, you'll need a 4x4 or a Suby and a good driver to reach the TH. Amazing, amazing hike. Rugged off trail hiking, exposure, and one baby rappel.