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Boucher Trail, AZ

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Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Northwest > South Rim
4.2 of 5 by 14
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Difficulty 3.5 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance One Way 6 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,270 feet
Elevation Gain -2,290 feet
Avg Time One Way 3-4 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 9.82
Backpack Yes & Connecting
Dogs not allowed
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20  2017-04-15
Boucher Hermit Loop
19  2017-04-15
Boucher Hermit Loop
20  2017-03-11
Boucher Rapids Hermit Loop
9  2016-05-20 jakeparlay
32  2015-10-24 Mick
8  2015-04-18 Booneman
24  2015-03-19
S.Bass to Silver Bell
24  2015-03-19
South Bass to Silver Bell - THE GEMS
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5
Author HAZ_Hikebot
author avatar Guides 16,882
Routes 16,052
Photos 24
Trips 1 map ( 6 miles )
Age 22 Male Gender
Location TrailDEX, HAZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Mar, Nov, Apr, Oct → Early
Seasons   Spring to Early Winter
Sun  6:13am - 6:33pm
Official Route
11 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Skirtin' Tavertine on the Esplanade
by HAZ_Hikebot

The Boucher Trail (pronounced Boo-shay) offers access to a charming and secluded part of the Grand Canyon, but the beauty has a price. The Boucher challenges even experienced canyon hikers. The trail consists of tough, tedious traverses linked together by knee-destroying descents, with a section of exposed hand and toe climbing thrown in for good measure. On the other hand, the canyon always seems to compensate physical effort with spiritual rewards, and opportunities abound to explore sidecanyons, encounter wildlife, examine ancient geology, and touch the Colorado River at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.

The Boucher Trail was the creation of Louis D. Boucher, the "hermit" of the Hermit Creek basin. Boucher maintained seasonal residences at Dripping Spring and near Boucher Creek and lived in the area for 20 years. Labeled a hermit because he lived alone, Boucher was in fact well known and socially active within the South Rim community during the latter part of the 19th century. Boucher called his trail the "Silver Bell". Very few modern hikers follow the original Silver Bell Trail from the rim above Dripping Spring. Most of the old switchbacks are intact, but the location of the trailhead is an obscure spot no longer accessible by vehicle. For all practical purposes, the Boucher Trail, as we know it today, starts at the intersection below Dripping Spring.

Hike the Hermit Trail two miles through the Kaibab, Toroweap, and Coconino Formations to the Dripping Springs Trail junction. Turn west (left) and follow the narrow Dripping Springs Trail for 1 mile as it rounds the bays at the head of the Hermit Drainage before intersecting the Boucher Trail proper. Striking views of the often overlooked Esplanade Sandstone which is the top most member of the Supai Group are visible and quite impressive in this area. The Boucher Trail departs in a northerly direction continuing the long traverse on the rim of the esplanade. The route crosses numerous small, steep drainages complicated by rockslides from the Coconino cliff above. Finally the spectacular camp below Yuma Point is reached. This indeed is one of the finest upper canyon camps with soaring openness and classic seasonal "Esplanade water pots." Fair warning that this area is directly below the Dragon Flight Corridor which can mean a sometimes constant sound of helicopter noise. In the summer a generous flight curfew of two hours at dawn and dusk will allow a well planned hike to be thoroughly immersed in silence. In essence a hiker could pull into camp late in the day and pack up and move out early the next day and never hear the wumpa-thump of the tour flights.

The trail continues on the flat Esplanade as it rounds the corner below Yuma Point into the head of Travertine Canyon. Continue at this level for perhaps half a mile, then start looking for where the route drops abruptly down the slope toward the bed of Travertine Canyon. A break in the upper cliff requires intimidating hand and toe climbing, and it is tough going throughout the Supai. The trail is being slowly reclaimed by erosion - steep, narrow, and covered in a layer of ball bearing-like pebbles. Take your time!

The route drops to the Redwall rim of Travertine Canyon, crosses to the west side of the drainage and wanders across the open saddle between Cocopa Point and Whites Butte to the top of a gully that plummets through the Redwall Limestone southwest of Whites Butte. The descent to the Tonto Trail is nothing less than brutal, a physical beating in classic Grand Canyon style. The Tonto Trail intersection is marked by a large cairn (no sign). Go right (north and east) along the Tonto Platform toward Hermit Creek or turn left (west) and continue down through the Tapeats Sandstone to Boucher Creek and permanent water. If time allows it is an easy walk down the creek to the Colorado River.

The Tonto Trail could be used to complete a loop hike from Hermits Rest down the Boucher Trail and up the Hermit Trail (or vice-versa). It is about five waterless miles between Boucher and Hermit Creeks, and the trail is well defined. Great canyon views and spectacular travertine deposits near the bed of Travertine Canyon provide diversion en route.

Water Sources
The only reliable water along the Boucher Trail is Boucher Creek and the Colorado River. The Colorado is often sediment laden and may be difficult to purify. Water may be available at Santa Maria or Dripping Spring, but neither is considered permanent and both involve considerable detours away from the Boucher Trail. Potholes at the top of the Supai north of Yuma Point may hold water for a few days after precipitation, but dry up quickly and are often frozen solid in winter.

The Boucher Trail is contained within "at-large" use area BN9. Nice (but dry) sites can be found where the trail rounds below Yuma Point and on the saddle just south of Whites Butte. Camping near water is possible along Boucher Creek near the Tonto Trail crossing and at the Colorado River. Camping in the Hermit Creek Use Area is restricted to the designated campsites at Hermit Creek (BM7) or Hermit Rapids (BM8).

Please Note
The Boucher Trail is arguably the most difficult and demanding of the south side trails. The overall condition of the trail, especially in the Supai and Redwall Formations, presents an obvious hazard. The trail through the Supai is hard to follow when covered with fresh snow. Map reading skills are essential. The Boucher Trail is best left to highly experienced canyon hikers.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2008-03-13 HAZ_Hikebot

One-Way Notice
This hike is listed as One-Way.

When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
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 of 20 deeper Triplog Reviews
Boucher Trail
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Boucher Hermit Loop
T'was the day before Easter and all through the canyon we searched for companions. A bunny was not to be found yet the buttonose chipmunk near and dear emitted strange sounds.

Shivering was the name of the game for the first hour followed by perfection for the balance. After five miles it felt like we were still near the rim.

Just a nice hike until the mother of all wildflower shows along my least favorite Tonto killed the pace.

Lunched in the shade of the narrows along Hermit Creek before hiking out. Denny didn't care for the ascent but found the gear to get us out before the buses stopped.

Great to hike new terrain and Dave had a funny or two to share. Big thx to Wally for driving, he's been under the weather this week.

Bazillion Sego Lilies, brittlebush gone wild
Boucher Trail
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South Bass to Silver Bell via the Gems
So this trip covers what is commonly known as "The Gems" -- The Tonto Trail between South Bass and Boucher.

For people who make this journey, the biggest factor is water availability. The NPS officially reports that there are no reliable sources of water along this route, though seasonally water can be found in some of the drainages. For those who read this doing research for a future trip, I'll start with the water report. (You may view the map and click each water source to see reports from trips other than this one.)

Water Report:
The 2014/2015 winter was near normal for precipitation in northern Arizona. It was unusually warm however, and most storms dropped rain on the south rim rather than snow. On our trip start date of 3/19, there was no snow pack anywhere on the south rim. There was no mud or any other sign of recent moisture on the road. The last precipitation had fallen on 3/2 ... a storm that dropped 1-2" of rain in the canyon with about a foot of snow on the South Rim. So it had been totally dry, sunny, and warm for 16 days when we began our hike.

In order west to east:
Bass: dry with isolated pools 1/2 mile below Tonto
Serpentine: pools and light flow at crossing. Nobody got sick from drinking it.
Emerald: pools and light flow
Quartz: dry
Ruby: dry with a few pools in rock
Jade: dry
Jasper: dry
Turquoise: pools and light flow above Tonto crossing. Very nice flow down canyon from crossing.
Sapphire: some pools and a light trickle at Tonto crossing.
Agate: dry
Slate: pools at crossing, light flow and larger pools just upstream of crossing
Topaz: dry
Boucher: flowing as normal. A reliable source all year.

A different time of year, or a different quantity of precipitation over the winter and your results may vary. Turquoise and Slate seem to be the most likely to find water. Serpentine is apparently fairly reliable in cooler months, but some have reported stomach illness due to mineral content. We did not experience that and 5 of us drank plenty from Serpentine.

The Gems:
Not really sure why it's called this. Of the officially named canyons (Serpentine, Ruby, Turquoise, Sapphire, Agate, Slate, and Topaz) one could argue that there are a few minerals that aren't gems. The unofficially named canyons don't help. In any case, it's all a ruse of reverse psychology since there are no rocks in any of these canyons that resemble their given names. In fact, there's nothing exotic, or particularly scenic about any of this trip! It's as if the names are given to give a false impression of something special!

Don't get me wrong. You're in the Grand Canyon. Thirty miles of absolute solitude in the middle of one of the 7 wonders of the world. On several occasions I looked around and felt incredibly small. It's a great perspective. But unless you are motivated to hike a trail just because it's on a map, this isn't the most scenic or interesting route you could spend your time on. (And yes, I realize there are plenty of people who are motivated by that).

The Hike:
John put this together, and I appreciate his planning. He was confident about our water sources (but gave up on Serpentine and hiked to the river to filter after a passing hiker told us a friend had gotten sick two years ago -- the rest of us drank it and survived just fine.) Approaching each drainage, we all would begin to doubt if water would be available, but it's amazing how accustomed you become to thinking a small pool is more than enough! Water was never a problem for us. I think we all carried more than necessary in anticipation of not finding any.

The Tonto is a great trail when it's out on the platform parallel to the river. When it dives into the drainages, it's a pain in the ass. If it was all on the platform, the hike would be so much more pleasant, but I would guess far more than half of it is in the drainages. The northern/western half is much rougher than the southern/eastern half. Serpentine, Emerald, Quartz and Ruby especially. The southern/eastern half canyons are easier to get through, with the exception of the two miles getting out of Slate Canyon which is rough. The descent into Topaz/Boucher is steep and loose, but at that point, you can see water and know that camp is near, so motivation and adrenalin easily overcomes the rest.

On our way out we opted for the Dripping Springs Route, formerly the Silver Bell Trail - the original trail built by Boucher from above Dripping Springs to his camp near the river. This old route is the real gem on this trip and a very pleasant way to exit the canyon without dealing with the crowds and tourists one would normally encounter by exiting on the Hermit Trail.

The Group:
It was great to hike with Kathy, Karl, Lee, John, and Kyle. Everybody is independent and hiked on their own, but also of similar ability and speed that we were all within a short distance of each other each day. It was nice to gather together each night at camp for dinner and desserts. Some people snore louder than mating canyon tree frogs, but luckily, ear plugs were packed and sleep was not interrupted. Also, some people seem to think that 4:30 is a perfectly normal time to get up in the morning. I'm still not sure why. :zzz:
Boucher Trail
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South Bass to Silver Bell via the Tonto Trail
Another memorable trip to the Canyon is complete! A group of six of us made the trek along the Tonto through The Gems over the course of four days. This was an amazing hike and we covered a lot of ground. Water was our biggest concern but we found plenty. Shade was also a premium. The following is a day by day triplog of our adventure.

Wednesday, March 18
Our group left Phoenix on Wednesday evening in two vehicles and made our way to Flagstaff where we topped off gas and grabbed some food at Crystal Creek. From there we drove all the way to the South Bass Trailhead. FR328 was completely dried out and relatively easy to follow. The Havasupai Gate was unmanned but we had to pay the following morning when arranging the shuttle. We camped at the South Bass Trailhead and turned in before midnight

Thursday, March 19
We woke on Thursday morning and started getting geared up. Karl and Lee left fairly early in the two vehicles to set up the shuttle. They paid a Havasupai member at the entrance gate to shuttle them between FR2501/2506 and the South Bass Trailhead. The total came to $100 ($25 for each vehicle and $50 for the shuttle). This worked out really well!

The rest of us started hiking around mid-morning and took our time dropping down the South Bass Trail. This trail was dried out and in excellent condition and easy to follow. We made decent time as we reached the Esplanade and then started the drop into Bass Canyon through the Supai and Redwall. This Redwall break is quite possibly the easiest break outside the corridor. The trail makes an easy descent through the break and then it’s high speed along the Bright Angel Shale. We arrived at the Tonto junction and gathered all four of us and then made the last few miles to Serpentine Canyon where we found cool and clear water and plenty of campsites.

About an hour after getting camp set up Karl and Lee showed up to our surprise. They told us about hiring the shuttle and this saved them at least two hours of hiking. They got situated and then our group day hiked to the Colorado River. The route down the wash is fairly easy to follow with a few minor obstacles in the way. We took a break at the Colorado River and I filtered three liters with my Sawyer Squeeze. The river was murky but easy to filter. From there our group returned to camp and settled in for the evening.

Friday, March 20
Our group started hiking around mid-morning as we only had ten miles to reach Turquoise Canyon for our second night’s camp. The going was easy at first but became more difficult as the sun beat down and temps rose into the 80’s. We reached Ruby Canyon around the five mile mark and took an extended break there. Ruby provided the rare opportunity for shade and there were a few small pools of water right at the trail crossing. We all rested here and filled up on water and drank electrolytes. From there we continued the final five miles to Turquoise Canyon where we set up camp.

Turquoise Canyon had lots of good camping available. FOTG and I selected sites under an overhang while the others set up just below us. There was good water available about a minute up canyon. After getting camp set up I went for a solo walk down canyon. I was surprised to find a full blown creek about a quarter mile down canyon. This area is so lush and beautiful! I spent just under an hour exploring. I wish I had more time and energy. I was curious if one can walk all the way to the river or if any obstacles impede progress. Anyways I returned to camp and all of us settled in for another night in paradise!

Saturday, March 21
All of us left camp fairly early around 7am. We have a long day ahead of us. We need to cross three major drainages and make it the fifteen miles to Boucher Camp. We wanted to get a jump on the heat. The first few miles were in shade and the temps were cool. All of us made good time as we reached Sapphire where we found good water at the crossing. We continued on and reached Agate which was dry. It was another five miles to Slate where we took an extended break in the shade. There was plenty of good water at the Slate crossing. Once again we refilled and drank electrolytes. From there we continued east and passed the monument that provides access to the bed of Slate Creek. FOTG and I wanted to go down there but didn’t have the energy. We want to plan another trip in the future.

It was a long day hiking but we finally reached Boucher Camp and set up camp. Afterward the four of us settle next to the creek in a shaded area and waited for Karl and Kathy to arrive. Sitting and relaxing is such a treat in the Canyon. It’s nice to not move after the long mileage day! Karl and Kathy arrived soon after and set up camp. From there the five of us, excluding Kathy, day hiked down Boucher to the river. This is a very easy hike and it was nice seeing the river up close for the second time. We all returned to camp and settled in for our last evening in the Canyon.

Sunday, March 22
All of us were dreading the hike out Boucher. The plan was to start early and exit the Canyon via the Silver Bell Trail. We’ll have to walk a few miles cross country through the forest and connect to the Boundary Road where the two vehicles are parked. The hike up Boucher was the typical grind but was easier with the early start. I hit the trail right at 6:30am and had cool weather and shade all the way to the top of the Supai. I continued the sunny traverse to Dripping Springs were I saw FOTG on the lower portion of Silver Bell. He said he would wait for me near the top.

The hike up Silver Bell was a joy! The old route has deteriorated but is easy to follow although very steep and loose in places. I didn’t realize how much elevation you gain there. You basically have to climb the Coconino, Toroweap and Kaibab layers. The climb is around a thousand feet and it took some effort! I met FOTG when the trail levels off in the forest and we followed an old road for a bit and then went cross country through the forest to the Boundary Road. Once there we headed west and connected on FR2506. The vehicles were about fifteen minutes down the road. We were both very happy and spent when we reached the vehicles. From there we played roundup and gathered the entire group. After that it was off to NiMarcos in Flag for pizza and wings!

This was one hell of a trip! We covered a lot of ground and saw a large portion of the Grand Canyon. Be careful when planning this hike because some of the drainages are seasonal and will dry up in the hot months. Thanks to Chumley and BiFrost for driving! And the entire group was a lot of fun and I look forward to the next adventure!
Boucher Trail
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South Bass to Silver Bell - THE GEMS
9L put together a real hum-dinger of a trip :)

Thursday morning we headed down South Bass. We did some miles on the Tonto, hit the Colorado a couple times, and camped in some beautiful places. Sunday finally arrived and we headed up. There is no warm up-- just up. And then there is more up. And a lot more up. And then there is a cooler with beer.

Great time with some great people :D
Boucher Trail
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S.Bass to Silver Bell
John put together a nice four day trek to the Gems for the six of us. The shuttle was our biggest obstacle entering the trip. However, Karl and I solved that problem by volunteering to drive both cars back to our end trail head (Silver Bell) and then hiking the 11 miles back to our starting TH South Bass. I will admit I had lost some of my enthusiasm for the 11 mile road walk to start our trip, so on a suggestion from Chumley and John we asked the guy at the reservation boundary gate if he wanted to make a little extra money. He was unable to help but his uncle took up our offer and followed us to silver bell and then dropped us off at the TH for S. Bass, saving us 11 miles of forest road walking and putting us just a couple hours behind the main group.

We reunited with the group at a cool little camp site located along the ledges of Serpentine Canyon. The shuttle help turned day one into a nice pleasant hike down S. Bass, with time enough left over to make a trip to the Colorado. The only blemish on an otherwise perfect day was me missing the ruins coming down S. Bass.

Day two was a pretty modest 10 mile movement to our next camp. We all left late and found the Tonto to be warm at times, but managed just fine. Another cool camp, another night sleeping on ledge for me and another late night for me ;)

Day three required an earlier start with 15 miles of the Tonto to cover to get to Boucher. I loved the Tonto at moments and cursed it at times, but generally enjoyed it. We seemed to all cover the Tonto pretty quickly and made it to Boucher just in time to enjoy our non-shaded site. We located the route down into Slate Creek and mulled a potential trip back, but not in the works for day three. The only other eventful activity of day three was the trip down to Boucher Rapids.

I dreaded day four a little because of the climb up Boucher. However, I did not find the climb to be that bad and I was at Dripping Springs and the start of the Silver Bell before I knew it. I really liked the Silver Bell route. It was a little challenging, but nothing overwhelming and a great way to hike out of the canyon. John and I reached the vehicles first and drove to the boundary line road. When Chumley arrived we just picked up the rest of the group as they came out along the Boundary Road, once all accounted for it was to Flag for pizza.

Final thanks to John for going through the permit process and keeping me safe, Chumley and Karl for driving, some props to Kathy for hanging in there with a cold and a special thanks to clairebear for watching my delinquents.
Boucher Trail
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Boucher to Bright Angel
I was finally able to do something of subsistence in the Grand Canyon. A big thanks to 9L who designed a nearly perfect initial 5 day excursion into the Grand Canyon. This time of year is not the easiest to plan with the lack of water and high temperatures, so our options were a little limited. Nevertheless, we came up with a plan that included starting at Hermit's Rest, taking Hermit Trail to Boucher Trail and then to my home for two nights along the Colorado River near Boucher Rapids. From there it was Hermit's Creek, then Monument Creek and on the final day the Tonto East from Monument Creek to Bright Angel and out.

Quick Anecdote: We had a crotchety SGT in our platoon during my last deployment to Afghanistan. Typical old guy, deployed like four times, woke up at three every day, always grumpy etc anyways, he would always compare me to the young mouthy guy from Biloxi Blues. So every now and then when it was a moment know one was thinking about laughing I would say SGT Blank, "man its hot today, its like Africa hot," and he would reluctantly chuckle. How does this relate to the Grand Canyon? Well just a heads up, "The Canyon is hot, like Africa hot right now!" I found myself repeating that phrase in my head several times over my five days in the bottom of the Canyon and in the absence of another hiker it was just enough to usually make me chuckle.

I drove up on Friday June 6th. I treated myself to some great Thai food in Williams of all places! I am a huge Thai fan and I give this place two thumbs up, Dara Thai Cafe worth a stop for sure. I got to the Canyon when they were still charging admission, but I told the lady of my plans and she just let me in for free and gave me permission to sleep in BCO parking lot, so that worked out just about perfect, gotta love it when things fall together like that. Only problem was the Canyon was bumping and that coupled with a little anxiety literally meant I got about 35 total minutes of sleep. No worries though to echo the words of one of my over-caffeinated drill sergeants, "sleep is a crutch for the weak." That would have to be my motto on day one as my first real intro into the Grand Canyon would be Boucher Trail.

Day 1:

Made first shuttle to Hermit's Rest, 4:30 a.m. Was boots on trail by about a quarter after five, skipped my intended carb loaded breakfast in lieu of 8-9 hour old Thai food that had been sitting in my car all night, turned out to be about only bad decision of trip. Stepped off with over 160 ounces of fluid, visited Dripping Springs, saw no one, loved the mild challenge of Boucher, got annoyed quickly by helicopter traffic and eventually had feet in Colorado River by 11:30 a.m. Tried to eat a little lunch, then literally spent about 4-5 hours in some of worst stomach pain ever. Cant figure out if it was mild dehydration, the Thai Food, first day acclimating to the oven or what, but was literally out of commission lying next to Boucher Rapids in a little grotto of trees until nearly six in the evening.

Day 1 Tally's: 11.7 miles, 5:13 a.m. to 11:17 a.m. Including frozen Gatorade carried nearly 170 oz, used about 80 oz of water and half of Gatorade to reach river.

Day 2: Slept in late. Woke up to find that my picturesque camp site had turned into Kuwait over night and nearly buried me in sand inside of my own tent sans rain fly of course. Lesson learned scorching hot canyons equal thermals and high winds at night leading to lots of blowing sand! My ambitions were a little curtailed by late start but stepped on the Tonto and headed West to Slate Creek, made a couple half-hearted and very cautious attempts at entering the Slate Creek drainage and eventually making my way to Crystal Rapids. I think I know how it can be done, but was not feeling overly adventurous on second day solo in back country and five miles from camp, so I headed back to camp with Slate Creek being my furthest advance west in Canyon now. Did finally get braver and hit up what I thought were some very promising over hangs and caves on way back, but found nothing. Later that evening I read in Spangler's hiking guide that she had actually attempted to drop down into Slate Creek on one of her trips but was probably turned back by the same impassable pour over that I hit in one of the eastern "finger-like" side drainages. I guess if proper side drainage is chosen one can enter Slate, with the attraction being to view Crystal Rapids. I was certainly on the right track, just lacked full commitment I guess and my private beach along the Colorado was calling.

Day 2 Tally's: 10.8 miles :started late 6:33 was back to camp just after noon.

Day 3: Went from Boucher Rapids camp to Hermit's Creek area. There were two other groups there, loved Hermit's Creek, rapids were great, saw a herd of Big Horn, lounged around pool area, day was only slightly diminished by man in HAZMAT suit cleaning the restroom all day. Hermit's Creek was by far the highlight of the trip.

Day 3 Tally's: 10.3 miles, left Boucher Rapids 5:30 a.m arrived Hermits Creek around 9 hiked to rapids and back and a little upstream exploration, lots of rest and relaxation around creek.

Day 4: Easy hike to Monument Creek, left late in morning had no need to rush. Forest service employee let me take a little off my load by allowing me to put trash in barrel on pallet that was being flown out by helicopter later in day. Was fully prepared to pack it all out, but could not turn down opportunity to get rid of three days worth of mountain house packages, and snack wrappers :) Explored the narrows of Monument Creek, real cool! Hiked down to Granite Rapids, watched a few boats go through, prepped gear and made final preparations for longest day yet to come.

Day 4 Tally's: 7.2 miles. Lost a bag of Peach O's to desert Sun, completely liquefied them inside baggie, making them inedible, believe me I tried, it was a very sad discovery

Day 5: Started early, in fact, very early left camp at 3:34 a.m. Plan was to use the generous light from moon, however, there was a slight problem with that, as moon had set before I even stepped off, alas, it would be a head lamp hike after all, not one lit by the moon. Even with following it for the first time and following the first portions of it in complete darkness, Tonto East proved to be a race track and I was at Indian Gardens around 8.

I took a short break and then prepared to take the United Nation's walk up the Bright Angel. Everyone knows the Bright Angel is what it is, so I just appreciated it for its awesome grade and well kept trail.

Day 5 Tally's: 14.9 miles, left camp 3:34 a.m. was on South Rim and walking to BCO lot by 10:20 a.m.

Final Notes and Observations:

My camp along the Colorado had a certain stranded desert island appeal to it. I certainly was not swimming across the Colorado and with cliffs to my back, lots of AEG, and a limited shore line my world for two days was pretty much relegated to about a 45 meter white sand stretch of beach.

One of the guide books I read said something on the lines of, "it is impossible to hike in the Grand Canyon and not become at least an amateur geologist." I think there is certainly some merit in that statement, I found myself pondering rock stuff more than probably at any previous moment in my life. A truly fascinating place...

Lessons Learned: Throw out all preconceived notions about what constitutes an early start when hiking in the Canyon during warm months. Anything after six better not have far to go, 5-5:30 solid start time, 4-5 better, anything before 4 ideal for long days.
Boucher Trail
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Boucher Hermit Loop
My 5th weekend trip to the canyon this spring entailed a 2-night backpacking trip on the Boucher and Hermit trails.

We started Saturday morning and made good time, stopping at Dripping Springs before traversing around the Eremita Mesa to Yuma Point. 9L and I spotted a couple of deer and a group of three backpackers on their way out. From Dripping Springs to Boucher Camp we saw no others.

The traverse around the mesa is easy cruising but it ends fast when the trail dips through the Supai in a steep, rocky, and difficult to follow section of trail that drops 1000-feet in .75 mile. After a .5 mile respite, the trail makes its final descent through the redwall dropping an additional 1800-feet in the final 1.5 miles to the creek. We were glad not to be hiking out this way! Exiting via Boucher would deliver a solid 3000-feet of vertical in the first 3 miles!

Anyway, a group of 11 backpacks were piled by a boulder, but no campsite had been set up and there was nobody around. Naturally, we took advantage and grabbed the best spot we could find and quickly set up our tents. The beer got stashed in the river, water filtered, and some time to rest and relax. Unfortunately, there's no shade in Boucher camp as any trees that might once have provided it are no longer living.

After a couple of hours we decided to head on the short 1.5 mile hike to the river. Along the way we passed all the people who had left their packs at camp. They were a college geology class from Indiana and were on their 5th night in the canyon. They didn't have tents and didn't seem to mind us camping near them. They took off for Yuma Point before 5am Sunday, and we waited until much later to begin our leisurely stroll across the Tonto to Hermit Camp.

9L got there first and grabbed the best camp spot there ... camp was empty on our arrival. After a while we headed downstream to the river. The section of Hermit Creek that cuts through the Tapeats is awesome. And Hermit Rapid might be the mightiest I have been to. A real treat! On the way back to camp, we headed up out of the creek to visit the ruins of the old Hermit tourist camp. There are plenty of ruins and remnants around, and we marveled at the history of a cable car taking tourists and supplies directly from this spot to the rim at Pima Point. That would have been a sight to see! (Not to mention, an exhilarating white-knuckle ride!)

Three other groups arrived at Hermit late in the afternoon and set up camp. I explored upstream a bit where a series of beautiful cascades appear, one after the other, until you get above the Tapeats layer.

We saw only one mouse run across our little cave overhang campsite, as he figured out quickly that there was nothing for him to get into. We had seen one the night before at Boucher too, but being well-prepared for them, we had no problem with their brief visits.

Monday, I woke up early, and instead of trying to get back to sleep, I got up and started packing quietly. Kyle and 9L were awake by the time I was ready to go, and knowing that I'm slower on the ascent, I headed out to get a head start. I was at the base of the Cathedral Stairs before I spotted them come up out of the creek, figuring I had close to an hour and almost 2 miles on them. I made good time and felt good about my "lead", so I took a detour out onto Lookout Point.

At Santa Maria Spring, I was exploring the old stone restrooms below the resthouse that I hadn't noticed on my 2 first trips past here when I suddenly heard 9L. I was a little disappointed that he had made up the distance in just 4 miles. I was at least hoping to make it to the final ascent above Waldron. Oh well. Kyle was close behind too. We hiked together for a short stretch before 9L took off for the top. I struggled up the last 1000 feet as I always seem to. But apparently I arrived only 10-minutes behind 9L, and Kyle was there just a few minutes behind me.

We stopped in to say hi to Hippy before heading home with the requisite pitstop for wings and pizza in Flagstaff.
Boucher Trail
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Boucher / Hermit Loop
Our trip started on Saturday morning from Hermits Rest. We quickly made our way down and headed for Dripping Springs. After a quick stop we connected to the Boucher Trail and started the traverse across the top of the Supai. The going is easy along this shadeless section. We continued on and stopped by Yuma Point to enjoy the views which were stunning! From there we continued our traverse and then started the descent through the Supai which was steep and rough. Once at the bottom we proceeded towards Whites Butte. Our original plan was to make a quick summit but I was running low on water and the trail was taking its toll. We decided to continue on which lead us through the break in the Redwall. Again the going is steep and loose as you drop toward Boucher Camp. The lower sections winds back and forth and continued dropping. It seemed like it would never end...

We arrived at Boucher Camp to find two other groups settled in but no one was there. We picked a site and then I immediately pumped water from Boucher Creek. As I pumped I soaked in the beauty of this area and tried to imagine what it must have been like back in the days of Louis Boucher. It must have been quite a site with a tourist camp and a variety of fruit bearing trees. Boucher Creek is a welcome oasis!

Anyways after we got camp set we started the hike to the Colorado. This section of canyon is beautiful. The creek is flowing and the walls rise up around you. We strolled to the river and passed at least a dozen of our fellow campers. Once at the river we took our time exploring the area and got to watch a massive boat power through the rapid. It went so fast as everyone sat in their seat. Didn't look like much fun compared to all the small rafts I've seen fight their way through the rapids. Our return hike was very chill and we all settled into camp for the night.

We woke on day two and took our time packing up. The plan was two hike the five miles to Hermit Camp and then day hike to the river. We started the hike across the Tonto and took a few quick stops to enjoy the views. We all hiked at our own pace and I was the first to arrive at camp. As I neared Hermit Camp I was delighted to see the entire area was vacated! My eyes then lead me to the "Penthouse". The site called to me and I hurried down hoping to beat anyone else just showing up. Naturally I scored the site (see pics) and Hermit Camp would instantly turn into one of my favorite camps ever! Yes I have a lot of these. :)

After camp was set up we made the walk to the Colorado. Hermit drainage is another gem! We lazily followed Hermit Creek and stopped for pics and periods just to admire the beauty! Did I ever say I like the Canyon? If not I am now! :D Hermit Rapid is another strong one. There weren't any rafters as we chatted it up with some backpackers. From there we headed back up stream and cruised by the old cable system set up on the Bright Angel Shale. The operation was impressive. I didn't realize how large the footprint was. It took us some time to walk around. Afterward we returned to camp and several groups showed up very late in the day. They all looked envious at our "Penthouse" location.

I woke on our final day to hear Chumley tearing down camp. I got up and started prepping for the hike out. I was ecstatic to see overcast. It was going to be a cool hike out. Chumley left early as Kyle and I packed up our gear. We started the hike out just as our neighbors were starting to stir. They really slept in. The first few miles were uneventful. The hike up the Cathedral Stairs took some effort. Chumley was up ahead and left several calling cards for us which helped bring out a laugh despite the grind hiking out. See pics. I finally caught up with Chumley near the Santa Maria Spring. We had a chat and then made the hike out.

We've been hitting the Canyon hard and it never disappoints! Every trip leaves me wanting more! I never want them to end. Each one becomes a part of me. Thanks to Chumley and Kyle for coming out for this one and thanks Hippy for putting up with us for the short time we stayed with you.
Boucher Trail
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Boucher / Hermit Loop
This was a fun three days! We woke up Saturday morning at Haley's and headed over to the trailhead. We decided to hit Dripping Springs first since it wasn't too far out of the way and ended up hiking with a guy from Brooklyn who seemed to enjoy our banter or at least was good at pretending. We hung out at the springs for a minute and dunked our hats/bandanna's and were on out way.

The Boucher Trail is one hell of a trail. Its harder going down then most trails I've ever gone up. Its beautiful and well worth every step, though. Chumley and John quickly broke ahead of me as usual and I had a nice quite morning to myself hiking through the canyon. I missed the turnoff to Boucher Camp and luckily realized soon after that I should have already dropped in. I turned around and met up with them at our camp spot for the night. There would be two other groups there that night. We took our time setting up and I took some time to drink a beer while soaking my feet in the cool creek.

After resting a bit, we headed down creek to the Colorado to check out Boucher Rapids. Everyone had the same idea and we passed quite a few people as they headed back. The Colorado is always nice to see. We headed back and lounged for the rest of the day.

We woke up sunday and took our time packing up. It was going to be a short and easy day. We climbed back up to the Tonto and took it over to Hermit Camp. We were the first ones there so we ended up with the penthouse spot-- John picked the sweet spot. After setting up camp, we headed down creek to check out Hermit Rapids. Hermit Creek is awesome! Waterfalls and areas where it tightens into a slot canyon. It was really fun. We hung out at the river for a bit and headed back. John wanted to make a little loop and take an old trail back up to the Tonto where we could check out the old Hermit Camp ruins. Those were pretty interesting. Its hard to believe they actually used to run a cable car down there. We got back to camp and slowly watched it fill up as more backpackers showed up.

Monday we got packed up pretty quick. We knew it was going to be a trudge back out of there and we wanted to be out pretty early. It was a beautiful hike out and the temperature turned out to be perfect. It sprinkled for a few minutes which was actually nice. John and Chumley finished just a little ahead of me and I finished in just under four hours. Awesome hike out!

Good times and good company! Thanks for setting this up, 9L!
Boucher Trail
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Got to the Backcountry office Sunday at 8am only to find a crowd of people waiting. Got my number and waited about 30min. Ranger Christy (with a K?)recognized me from a few weeks ago and was cool not to make me fill out the permit or hiker info forms and didn't question me about the route. Awesome! Permit in hand for BO9.

I set out on FR328 from near the kennels behind the Maswick lodge. After mile marker 15, I drove FR2501 to FR2506 to the Boundary Line Road. These 2 roads are quite rough and require high clearance and no fear of losing some paint. Started out hiking along the BLR for about 5 miles until I could make a bee-line through the junipers for South Bass TH. Another 6 miles and I was at the real start to this hike.

Made good time down the South Bass were I found no snow and very little mud. At the South Bass/Esplanade junction I searched for the water cache I had left in 2011 for Liz and Paul but it was gone. Continued on down SB until the turn off for the east bound Tonto. This section of the Tonto is probably the least traveled and can be difficult to follow in some spots, usually on the open Tonto platform. Over all though it wasn't too bad and I only got off trail a handful of times.

I won't lie, this trail gets kind of repetitive after a while as all the side canyons you have to contour around start to look the same. Maybe I was just tired? Glad I finally got this one done though. Its nice to kind of zone out on these long hikes but because of the faintness of this trail you really need to stay alert and watch for cairns. That makes it feel even longer.

It was dark by 7:20 but I wanted to get at least 30 miles in the first day so I continued on by headlamp until about 9pm. If following this trail in daylight is challenging, you know at night its even worse. With Serpentine, Emerald, Quartz, Ruby, Jade and Jasper done I made camp on the Tonto platform between Jasper and Turquoise Canyons. Didn't get much sleep due to the near full moon beaming down on my face (I didn't bring a tent). At 4am the moon finally fell behind the canyon walls but then the mosquitoes came out. I really wished I had a tent.

Even though I didn't get much sleep, it felt good to lay down and rest my legs after 30 tough, up and down and in and out miles. The nighttime temperature got down to about 30 degrees but with zero wind I stayed warm enough in my down bag. As I lay there I noticed some pain in the arch of my left foot. It seamed to get worse through the night and was almost impossible to put weight on it whenever I got up to pee. I wondered how I would do 26 miles tomorrow??? Fortunately I found that once I put my sneakers on and got moving the pain was manageable.

On the trail again by 7am. I knew I had a long day ahead of me but with almost half my water gone, my pack was damn near feather light. Or maybe not. Turquoise, Sapphire, Agate, Slate done. Now just climb down into Topaz, cross over to Boucher, up Boucher to Dripping Springs, up the Silver Bell Trail and across the juniper forest to the Boundary Road. I saw my first hikers in Boucher Camp and then a few more along the trail. The Silver Bell was probably the highlight of the trip. Maybe because I was so glad to be almost done or maybe it really is a neat trail. I'd definitely like to go back and do that one again. The Tonto? Maybe.

There is not much water along this route so I carried all of my water for 2 days (9 liters carried, 8 liters used). Also the Colorado River is running brown right now. I didn't explore up or down any of the canyons due to limited time and energy so all water reports are at the Tonto crossings. Serpentine was running at maybe a 1/2 gallon/minute but most people say the water is undrinkable due to excess minerals. Maybe with a higher flow its ok to drink? Ruby had a few potholes. Boucher had the usual good flow. All others were dry.

With this one done, I have now hiked, in sections, from the Little Colorado all the way to Elve's Chasm. This hike also puts me over 1,000 lifetime miles at the canyon. :y:

edit: slight flow in Sapphire Canyon

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Map Drive
Paved - Car Okay

To Hermits Rest Trailhead
From Flagstaff head west on I-40 for 30.4 mi to SR-64. Turn right/north and follow SR-64 55 miles to the park. You will receive a map & information at the GC park entrance.

Hermits Rest is at the west end of Hermit Road. Hermit Road is a restricted area, you must take the free-bus. Keep in mind the bus ride is over a half hour long each way when planning your hike.

Backpackers with a valid backcountry permit can drive private vehicles to the Hermit trailhead. A numerical code (provided by the Backcountry Information Center) is needed to open the Hermit Transfer access gate. Use the keypad mounted on the steel post that supports the gate to enter this code. Drive to Hermits Rest and follow the dirt road 1⁄4 mile beyond the end of the pavement to the trailhead.

During the winter the Hermit Road is open to private vehicles and no special access is required.

From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 239 mi - about 3 hours 58 mins
From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 344 mi - about 5 hours 28 mins
From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 91.9 mi - about 1 hour 49 mins
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