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Tonto Trail: Boucher Trail to South Bass Trail, AZ

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Guide 19 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Northwest > South Rim
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Difficulty 2.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance One Way 27.94 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,655 feet
Elevation Gain 897 feet
Accumulated Gain 4,979 feet
Avg Time One Way 12-14 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 44.53
Backpack Yes & Connecting
Dogs not allowed
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28  2016-03-31
Grand Canyon Gems Attempt
121  2016-03-31
Tonto Trail: South Bass to Hermit
22  2016-03-07
The Gems - Grand Canyon
24  2015-03-19
S.Bass to Silver Bell
24  2015-03-19
South Bass to Silver Bell - THE GEMS
27  2015-03-19
South Bass to Silver Bell - THE GEMS
45  2015-03-19
South Bass to Silver Bell via the Tonto Trail
34  2015-03-19
South Bass to Silver Bell via the Gems
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Author HAZ_Hikebot
author avatar Guides 16,882
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Age 22 Male Gender
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Long Rugged West
by HAZ_Hikebot

Overview: As canyon hikers gain experience many seek to broaden their wilderness horizons and inevitably thoughts turn to the Tonto Trail west from Boucher Creek to the South Bass Trail. This segment of the Tonto Trail is notorious, regarded by canyon experts as the most difficult and potentially dangerous section of this long transcanyon trail system. Main reason: It is almost 30 rough, unmaintained miles from the permanent water in Boucher Creek to the South Bass trailhead, and throughout that entire stretch there are no reliable water sources near the Tonto Platform level. None. Another thing: Once started, hikers are committed. The complete lack of bail-out routes to the rim between Boucher and Bass means the only possibility for help is at the end of the trek. Combine these factors with the usual selection of Tonto Trail hazards (such as narrow, eroding trails, numerous passages near the brink of sizable cliffs, and a notable lack of shade) and it all adds up to a serious undertaking.

Hike: Follow Boucher Creek down to the confluence with Topaz Canyon and look for where the trail climbs the slope west of the drainage bottom. Climb the trail to the top of the Tapeats Formation and start around Marsh Butte, headed for Slate Creek.

Progress west of Boucher is generally straightforward for an experienced Tonto Trail hiker. The Tonto is like a contour line on a topo map. The trail much prefers a consistent elevation, climbing or descending only when there is no other option. The route stays relatively close to the top of the Tapeats so hikers can generally guess about where the trail is likely to be. Crossing the side canyons can be tricky. The trail usually goes more or less directly across the cobble-filled beds of the drainages to the far side before continuing, but not always. Should the trail seem to vanish when crossing a side canyon, back up and look up or down the drainage for the proper exit. The trail gets a bit vague when rounding the points between the side canyons, and occasionally seems to disappear altogether. Remember the Tonto Trail is seeking that theoretical line of least resistance between the Tapeats rim and the steepening talus slopes above. Stay on that line and the trail should reappear shortly. To say the Tonto Trail is indirect represents masterful understatement. Map study does not adequately prepare one for all the ins and outs and round- abouts, but given the time, water, and energy, it is mostly just a question of slogging out the miles.

Note: The Tonto Platform provides the only convenient route between the side canyons for almost 40 river miles but it falls far short of traversing the entire length of Grand Canyon. West of the Bass Trail the Tonto Trail starts pinching down until it disappears entirely at Garnet Canyon. West of Aztec Amphitheater the Esplanade, a new platform system at the top of the Supai Formation, becomes the main playing field for transcanyon walkers.

Water Sources: As previously stated, drinking water is the essential issue along the western Tonto Trail. There are no permanent springs, only unreliable, unpredictable, seasonal trickles here and there. Sometimes it's there, sometimes it's not. The Backcountry Information Center occasionally receives and files water reports from hikers or patrol rangers, but the utility of these reports is limited because what was there two weeks ago might not be there today. The only way to obtain accurate water information before departing is to talk with someone who walked the route very recently, but that is easier said than done. Under these circumstances, hikers have no choice but to assume the worst. It is the responsibility of the trip leader to always have a backup plan if anticipated water sources come up dry. The most critical step you can take to protect yourself and your group is: Schedule your hike for the cool months, November through April. This is when water is most likely to be found in the side canyons, and cool weather means hikers can cover the ground most efficiently. Secondly, get water when you can! Fill your water containers, and your belly, every chance you get. Heavy water loads and dry camps are almost inevitable.

Water records indicate (predictably) that best chance for water occurs during cool weather in the larger drainages, Ruby, Turquoise, Sapphire, and Slate. Water is sometimes found above or below Tonto Trail level but you will have to decide if it is worth the time and effort to check. There is relatively easy access to the Colorado River at the bottom of the Bass Trail and via the beds of Serpentine Canyon and the unnamed side canyon east of Serpentine. There are rugged scrambles to the shoreline from the rim of the Inner Gorge west of Turquoise and via the drainage bottom in Ruby and Slate, but all routes to the River are major detours off the Tonto Trail and the latter three require well developed climbing and route- finding skills.

Campsites: The Tonto Trail between Boucher Creek and the South Bass Trail is contained within "at-large" use areas BN9, BO9, BP9, and BQ9. Decent sites can usually be found where the trail crosses the side canyons and occasionally near the trail between the drainages. As usual, hikers are requested to utilize established sites to minimize impact on a pristine part of the canyon.

Segments to Consider:
Hermit trailhead (6640 ft)toBoucher Creek (2760 ft)9.0 mi
Boucher Creek, BN9 (2760 ft) via Boucher TrailtoSlate Creek, BO9 (3100 ft)5.25 mi
Slate Creek, BO9 (3100 ft)toTurquoise Canyon, BO9 (2950 ft)9.3 mi
Turquoise Canyon, BO9 (2950 ft)toRuby Canyon, BP9 (3100 ft)5.8 mi
Ruby Canyon, BP9 (3100 ft)toSerpentine Canyon, BP9 (3100 ft)4.8 mi
Serpentine Canyon, BP9 (3100 ft)toBass Canyon, BQ9 (3200 ft)3.8 mi
Serpentine Canyon, BP9 (3100 ft)toSouth Bass trailhead (6646 ft)9.0 mi

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2008-03-16 HAZ_Hikebot
  • Grand Canyon Use Area Boundaries - Dynamic Map

One-Way Notice
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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 Triplog Reviews
Tonto Trail: Boucher Trail to South Bass 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:
Tonto Trail: Boucher Trail to South Bass 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!
Tonto Trail: Boucher Trail to South Bass 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
Tonto Trail: Boucher Trail to South Bass 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.
Tonto Trail: Boucher Trail to South Bass 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
Tonto Trail: Boucher Trail to South Bass Trail
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4.5 day trip: The "Gems"

Nice on the rim, the Dripping Spring Trail (Old Boucher) is still recognizable - overgrown but not too bad.

Found people at Dripping Spring, headed down the Hermit. The Hermit is annoying - up and down and up and down before the redwall plunge. A bit hot out. Made it to the creek, tired, found a few backpackers but didn't talk much.

Left the next morning - travertine canyon is obviously named - very interesting. Boucher was flowing - interesting old cabin site. Back up to the Tonto - Slate was dry. Not good, and I ended up having less water than I thought at the end of the day.

That evening into the next morning the big rains hit. Seemed about 2 inches to me. Had an inch around my tent. Filtered water while in my sleeping bag - that's a first. But the water was sorely needed. Thank you for inventing tents with tub floors. I wake up - there is no water to be seen. I was on a ledge well away from the main drainage. If only it was bright out I could imagine seeing the maelstrom during the shower.

The next day the Tonto is getting worse. There are places there are 3 separate trails 20 feet apart, then they go their separate ways. Some veer off and just end. Gets overgrown in places too. Hoofed it a bit past Ruby to somewhere around Quartz. Found pools in nearly all the drainages. I think my water concerns are no more, but after the scare at Slate I continue to overload and carry more than needed.

The next day I make it to S Bass a little past mid-day. I take a wonderful hike down to the river, find the beach all to myself, and take a few photos. Find a backpacker on the way back to camp - he's had a rough time, without the rain I wonder if he would've just perished out there, but he's on the trail and bound to complete his itinerary - he seems in a good mood too. I guess I would if I'd have been off-route for days and just found the trail again.

The next day I hike out - 3hrs 10 mins from my camp @ Tonto intersection (I was good until the Coconino and dragged that last mile) and hitch a ride back to my vehicle with a ranger also leaving that same day. We caravan back to the highway before parting ways, thankful we both make it without mishap.

Water report
3/16: Dripping Springs - dripping, 2 small pools
3/16: Hermit Creek - flowing @ Tonto
3/17: Travertine - dry @ Tonto
3/17: Boucher Creek - flowing @ Tonto
3/17: Slate - dry @ Tonto and below Tonto, looking upstream looked dry, no water shining on the pouroff, but did not investigate
3/17: Agate - dry

3/17 8PM -3/18 3AM is when the big storm hit

3/18: Agate - 2 small pools were all that was left near the Tonto, may not last long, the canyon doesn't seem to "hold" the water
3/18: Sapphire - small pools in canyon @ Tonto
3/18: Turquoise - trickle flow, large pools @ Tonto. However the potholes of water was reddish/tannin colored, either from the water or the bottom of the bottom of the pothole, likely the latter, the east arm had clearer pools that won't last long.
3/18: Jasper - small pothole pools @ Tonto
3/18: Jade - small pothole pools @ Tonto
3/18: Ruby - trickle flow, large pools @ Tonto
3/18: Quartz - tiny pools @ Tonto (more in the side drainages)
3/19: Emerald - small pools @ Tonto
3/19: Serpentine - light flow, big pools @ Tonto *warning that this water can be too high in mineralization for some
3/19: South Bass - pothole pools between Tonto and pouroff before the beach

In addition there were a few small pothole pools in many side drainages after the storm. I was surprised that more weren't flowing, given that while it was raining there was 1-2 inches of water everywhere, including around my tent (well high above the main drainage)

S Bass trail conditions were surprisingly good after the snow. Snow from trailhead to just before you reach the esplanade and melting fast. Road conditions to S Bass are awful, bring 4WD high clearance with a locker preferable and expect lots and lots of mud and slip-sliding...Each vehicle got 60 degrees sideways a few times. I brought home at least 30 lbs of mud stuck to the vehicle (running boards hold it). Or else postpone until it dries out a bit.
Tonto Trail: Boucher Trail to South Bass Trail
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Woohoo! I've now hiked every section of the Tonto trail and etc from Royal Arch to LCR. :y:

I've been thinking about hitting this rugged Gem Route for some time now and knew to finish the Tonto I'd eventually have to put it behind me. Not the most adventurous, exhilirating or breathtaking section of the Tonto, but there was still loads of great views, perfect weather, good company, and it all went down without any issues. Definitely not a back way to spend 4 days of backpacking. :D Good water in about half the drainages with the best tasting being from Boucher creek. There was a light threat of rain but nothing manifested itself and good thing because I went without a tent to save weight. We started from the South Bass TH with about 2 gallons each making my pack weight a rediculous 50 pounds. :o With our heavy packs, we carefully made our down the scenic South Bass to the junction and headed east on the Tonto for our first night at Ruby Canyon with 15 miles under our belts. :sweat: In between Bass & Serpentine canyons, we met a rugged older gal who was soloing the whole thing back and forth who informed us that there was good water in most of the canyons and we all dropped a half to a full gallon of water each. :lol: Good thing too, because like I guessed from the Paria and LCR gauges, the Colorado River was a ragging flow of chocolate milk. ;) We found some good sites in Ruby Canyon and slept well that first night... The next morning we slept in a bit and got a late start, but we only intended to hike a relaxed 10 miles that second day. That afternoon, we rolled into Turquoise Creek were we refilled on water, I took a much needed bath, and chillaxed by the creek for a couple hours. :DANCE: Full on water, we found a campsite with sweeping views on the ridge between Sapphire & Agate canyon so we could soak in the evening canyon views under a full moon while playing a few camp games. :) By Day 3, the routine of going in & out of canyons was getting a lil old but we again only had about 10 miles before reaching our next camping spot and the perennial Boucher Creek. We rolled into there by early afternoon and took a quick nap before we venutured out to explore up & down Boucher Canyon. Four of us went down to Boucher Rapids and managed to get there just in time to see some hardcore rafters going thru them. :o Back in camp, we played some more dice games, I kept my chess board in my pack after getting whooped a few times already :? , and got our gear ready for the hike out before retiring early. On Day 4, we woke up early & ate a hearty breakfast before slowly climbing our way up the steep Boucher trail. :sweat: Scott & I were deemed the faster, ones so we got the keys to go drive back to the South Bass TH to pick up the other vehicle. Todd got an early start and was waiting for us at the Dripping Springs junction and talked us into going out that trail instead of the Waldron trail since none of us had yet to hike up that trail yet. The lower section of rather scenic & exposed but the upper section goes up a brushy drainage where we topped out around noon and then we had a 3 mile roadwalk to get back to the Jeep left at the Waldron TH. :sweat: The drive to pick up the truck at South Bass TH took us 2-2.5 hours and we got stopped once to pay the $25 Havasupai fee. Another great section of the Tonto, but I doubt any of us will be rushing out to do it again any time soon. ;)

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Map Drive
Connector trail - Not Applicable

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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