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Nankoweap Trail #57, AZ

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Guide 13 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Northwest > North Rim
4.6 of 5 by 5
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Difficulty 4.5 of 5
Distance One Way 5.1 miles
Trailhead Elevation 8,816 feet
Elevation Gain -2,425 feet
Avg Time One Way 2.5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 9.14
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14  2019-09-01
Saddle Mountain 8424
37  2018-04-28
Nankoweap Trail
13  2018-04-15
Saddle Mountain 8424
14  2014-09-29
Nankoweap Trail
31  2013-09-21
Nankoweap Trail
40  2013-09-21
Nankoweap Trail
45  2013-09-21
Nankoweap Trail
25  2013-09-21
Nankoweap Trail
Page 1,  2
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
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Preferred   May, Jun, Sep, Oct → Early
Seasons   Late Spring to Autumn
Sun  6:11am - 6:34pm
Official Route
4 Alternative
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
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Likely In-Season!

Author Full Detail Guide
This trail has a west and north trailhead. This trail is used to access the National Park's Nankoweap Trail the runs down to the river. The NPS declares it's 3.0 miles from the west and 3.5 miles via the north trailhead.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

This is a more difficult hike. It would be unwise to attempt this without prior experience hiking.

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    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 Triplog Reviews
    Nankoweap Trail #57
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    After camping just down the road from the trailhead, I was able to get on the trail at 7am. I've previously hiked to Nankoweap from the lower #57 trailhead, but never from the upper trailhead. I can say without question that the upper half is significantly more difficult than the lower half. I kept thinking to myself that I would hate to descend this trail with a full pack at the start of a multiday trip to the river. It would be no more fun on the way out!

    So I was glad to be doing this one as a day hike, and made my way to the saddle relatively quickly. From there, I was a little bit surprised at the lack of any sign of a route up Saddle Mtn. Not even a single cairn! Maybe I should have read a triplog first? I fought through brush and tried to stay in the shade created by the towering cliffs above for as long as possible. It was steep, overgrown, scree, boulders, deadfall, and prickly. Despite the elevation, the sun was hot, and I'm out of hiking shape so it was an exhausting climb.

    Eventually I prevailed, found the BobP-approved summit cairn, the benchmark, and the register. A remote off-trail peak like this doesn't usually have the names of four people I have actually met before, but this one did. Even so there was only one other group visit this year, and generally not more than 2-3 annually.

    There were numerous signs of recent mountain lion activity, so I was a little surprised that I didn't spook it out of hiding at some point. I'm sure it kept an eye on me from somewhere!

    Getting down to the saddle was slow going due to the steep grade, but was much less effort than the climb had been. Of course from the saddle, it's still a big climb back up to the trailhead, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't pretty beat up by the time I finished. I was happy to hydrate with some cold gatorade and drive toward my lazy follow-up hike.
    Nankoweap Trail #57
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    @friendofThundergod wrote such a great trip log for this trek, so I don't have much to add. I had been to the Nankoweap area on a rafting trip four years ago (almost to the date) so I had seen the granaries and a little bit of the area - but nothing like what we saw this weekend. The view of the Colorado from the granaries really can't be matched and, not to sound like a brown-noser, but seeing the granaries was definitely a little more special after the past few months of learning more and more about ancient AZ civilizations from Mr. Wilderness.

    Sunday was a big off-trail day, which was at times challenging but overall really fun. I'm getting much better at off-trail travel, though I'm not quite at mountain goat status like @friendofThundergod. It was nice to bag Nankoweap Butte, my 4th canyon summit. To be honest, it wasn't the most stunning view from the top but the geology was interesting (basically looked like we had landed on Mars) and I enjoyed the calf burning climb at the very end.

    To sum up: another awesome trip in the big ditch. I love exploring new parts of the Grand Canyon, from its quaint creeks to epic peaks. I'm pretty bummed that we most likely won't be making any overnight trips in the canyon until the fall, but we were already brainstorming about some middle-of-the-night treks to beat the heat this summer. Just can't stay away from that place!
    Nankoweap Trail #57
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    I have been wanting to do this one for a long time and it did not disappoint! Not only did it exceed my expectations, but it proved to be a perfect backpack to signal an end to the Grand Canyon backpacking season as well as a great way to honor my father’s birthday with something a little more special, which has been a tradition of mine for several years now.

    The rough itinerary for this one included two days at Nankoweap Creek, the Granaries, a semi ambitious off trail loop incorporating Kwagunt Creek and a summit of Nankoweap Butte. We arrived late to the trailhead on Friday night, so we were not able to drag ourselves away from the air mattresses as early as we wanted and started around 7 a.m.

    The hike down to Nankoweap Creek was the best of times and the worst of times. We both noted being a little fatigued and groggy for the 3 ish mile section to the saddle and point where you drop off the rim. From there, we both agreed the trail was not nearly as aggressive as we had thought it might be, but nevertheless we were both very happy the never ending traverse through the Supai was over. Then it was the steep hot descent to the creek. I am sure it could not have been more than 80 degrees, but that descent felt warm. In fact, it hit C.J. pretty hard at times and she experienced a little lightheadedness on the way down, which reaffirmed my decision that this was most likely our last major hike into the Canyon until fall. As one would expect, it was a great sense of relief for us when we finally hit Nankoweap Creek. However, instead of setting up camp, we took an extended break and decided to head for the much cooler water of the Colorado River, as neither one of us were much for the thought of sitting around at camp for six hours, while waiting for the sun to go down.

    The hike down Nankoweap Creek was excellent and although fatigued, we both appreciated the pleasant creek and canyon. There are definitely more scenic creeks in the Grand Canyon, but Nankoweap certainly holds it own in my opinion. Once at the Colorado, it was a quick trip up to the granaries and then a dash to the river for cold water to filter and a quick dip. We found a decent little campsite near the beaches, but away from the blowing sand, made camp, ate dinner and got to bed pretty early. Speaking of dinner, there is nothing you can do this time of year in the Canyon to prevent a Reese from melting.

    Day two was the big day for us. The plan was to hike along the Colorado River to Kwagunt Creek, where we would then hike up stream to the general area of the beginning of Butte Fault Route, which we would then take up to Nankoweap Butte and down the other side to Nankoweap Creek and back down stream to the Colorado and our campsite. The Colorado River portion of the hike was simply stunning, cool temperatures and some great morning light. Likewise, the route resembles a well defined trail more than an off trail canyon route, so the pace was relatively quick and the hiking pretty easy. This section of the Colorado may be one of my new favorite sections of river in the park. Kwagunt Creek was a gem in its own right, with tons of quaint cascades, fun geology and generally easy travel. But soon it was time for the climb to Nankoweap Butte and the toughest part of our day. I ended up opting for a route straight up the most predominant ridgeline in the area vs the drainage I had originally drawn a route to the summit from. I think the ridgeline we took may have been the actual geological feature described as the Fault Butte, but I am honestly not sure and need to do some additional research to find out. Either way, it was a very cool geological journey along that ridgeline to the saddle below Nankoweap Butte. Although, I am not sure if the ridgeline is the traditional Butte Fault Route. Despite seeming very close, the final climb tested us a little and gave our calves a wake up call. The summit was terrific and although probably not on par with some of the other ones I have done. However, I still found it rewarding and worth the effort. From the summit, it was the moon dust shuffle down to Nankoweap Creek, where we ran into some guys backpacking the Hayduke Tail, we chatted for a moment and then continued on our way back to camp. Once back at camp, we hopped in the Colorado to cool off and filter some water. Then it was breaking camp and heading back up Nankoweap Creek to the nice campsite we had taken a break at on the way in.

    It was extremely windy all night, which prompted a tent relocation due to an arguably irrational fear that a suspect cottonwood in the area might come down on us. The wind made it tough to sleep, which made our early morning start on Monday a little tougher, but alas this is the backpacking life.

    We left camp at six on the dot and although it was a slog at times and our muscles ached a little, we were back at the trailhead by noon.

    Final Notes

    This was a very satisfying little backpack. I remember reading triplogs about the granaries with a lot of envy years ago on HAZ, but at the time it was probably a little out of my league, but it remained in the back of my mind for a long time and I am glad I was able to finally knock it out, along with some additional off trail travel and a new summit, without using someone else's downloaded route. Speaking of route, one of the goals of this trip was to get a little taste of the Butte Fault Route for a perhaps a big trek towards Phantom Ranch from Nankoweap one day. I would by no means say I have it nailed down now, but I do believe I spotted the route to Melgosa Pass, which would be the next step in progressing along the rugged off trail route, so its a start. Also the route numbers are estimated, but I feel most likely pretty accurate. Its tough to get decent GPS routes in those canyons and there was too much spaghetti to clean up for my patience and I still kind of suck at route manager, so no posted route. However, I think I may be able to clean up the day two loop we did and will probably post that and attach it to this triplog one day. Finally, April 30 is always a special date and weekend for me and it’s been important for me to do something a little more special to honor my dad and this little trek certainly satisfied that. I really would give up every ounce of success and personal belonging I own for just five more minutes with the guy.

    Nankoweap Trail #57
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    I don't have much to add to @friendofThundergod's trip log, except that I am getting better at off-trail bushwhacking and I wasn't miserable and barely complained on that section. :) I enjoyed the views on the way in, especially from the saddle where we left the Nankoweap Trail, and was happy to bag another canyon summit.
    Nankoweap Trail #57
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    After South Canyon, it was a great night of car camping on the Kaibab Plateau and then Nankoweap Trail and a summit of Saddle Mountain on Sunday.

    We both enjoyed the short but sweet section of Nankoweap Trail. We found it to be scenic and a unique way to reach the Grand Canyon from our prior experiences and were pleased with a pretty modest glyph find along the way. Once at the saddle, we began the off trail portion to the summit of Saddle Mountain. We took what most off trail hikers with any route finding sense would consider a pretty obvious route to a pretty obvious little break on Saddle Mountain's western slope. There was a little bushwhacking along the way and it was pretty steep, however, overall we both agreed it was not that bad and it looked far worse from a distance. Once on top, we were greeted to some amazing views into the canyon and some dramatic drops. The snow capped peaks were visible in the distance and Tilted Mesa was easily identifiable, along with a few other landmarks that we will be getting a much closer look at when we backpack to the Colorado River from Nankoweap Trail in a couple of weeks. The route to the summit went smoothly and was pretty nice by most off trail standards. The summit had a very large cairn marking it and a pretty busy log in for a peak that did not have that well worn of a use trail going to it. We found a nice spot for lunch overlooking Marble Canyon and the Vermillion Cliffs in the distance and then headed back the way we came.

    Final Notes

    Route Scout was having a bad weekend and straight lined a portion of our trail, so I estimated the minor SNAFU, however, the route to and from the summit are the actual tracks and would be a good reference for anyone completing a summit from Nankoweap Saddle. This was my tenth Grand Canyon high point and although it did not have the same feel as some of the others, it feels nice to finally get in the double digits!
    Nankoweap Trail #57
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Our Nankoweap trip started on Saturday morning. The six of us drove up the day before and car camped at the trailhead. The road in is a little rough especially the last few miles. Anyways we all staggered off at separate times and made the hike up to the Saddle Mountain overlook. This part of the hike is 3 miles and you gain a solid 1,500 feet. Along the way we passed at least six backpackers on their way out. We didn’t see any other backpackers until our exit two days later.

    From the saddle you drop down through the Esplanade and start the long traverse through the Supai. The going is relatively easy with minimal gain and descent. We passed Marion Point and dropped some water. We continued and started the descent toward Tilted Mesa. The views are just spectacular! The descent from Tilted Mesa really gets the heart rate up. It’s steep and loose. I kept thinking no way there is a trail down this. There was and I was careful every step of the way. Eventually things level off and we made the final push to Nankoweap Creek.

    Once at the creek we selected a campsite that was nestled in some Cottonwood Trees. This will be our home for the next two days. After getting set up I was hit with exhaustion and took a very enjoyable nap. Evening set in and we had some fun conversation and then turned in for the night. It was a warm evening and I don’t think anyone slept inside their sleeping bag. I was comfy in my Bivy.

    On day two we all made the three mile hike to the river. The going is very easy and very scenic. Nankoweap Creek is beautiful! After an hour we reached the river delta and we all split up as we explored the general area which is huge! Eventually we saw the first set of rafters and made our way to their landing point. We successfully begged for beers and hung out with them for a few. Afterward a group of five of us, excluding Larry, made the hike up to the granaries. I was surprised at how high up they are. The granaries are spectacular! We took lots of pics and enjoyed a long break there. I could spend hours enjoying the views and the camaraderie. During our break another group of rafters landed and a third passed down the mighty Colorado. After successfully begging for more beers we returned to camp and settled in for the evening. The temps were cool and pleasant on day two.

    We woke very early on day three and wanted to get a jump on the sun. I was the last to leave camp and carried five liters of water with me. I wasn’t taking any chances on the dry hike out. I would only drink 3+ liters. The hike up Tilted Mesa had me a little on edge after our descent down two days earlier. I felt great and cruised up. It was much easier and I felt way more comfortable on the ascent. We regrouped on the saddle and then Chumley and I started the traverse out the Supai. The going was fairly easy but there are a few spots that are a little unnerving. There are no “OH MY GOSH” obstacles along this hike. However cumulative they all add up to make for an anxiety filled day. We debated on if Nankoweap is more difficult than Boucher. I personally think it is however the others had a different opinion. We’ll need to continue the debate another time.

    We reached the saddle and then Chumley and I made the final descent back to the vehicles at the trailhead. We had some celebratory beers as the others stumbled in. From there we returned to Flag for NiMarco’s and then back to Phoenix. This was such a memorable trip! I will definitely hike it again and could not recommend it enough!
    Nankoweap Trail #57
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Wow. Sweet trip! I hurt a little bit! :)

    Hike Info: The first 3 miles up FS Nankoweap Trail 57 to the NPS boundary is a killer grind. With a full pack, carrying water, etc. it'll get to you!
    The rest of the hike is long but not terrible. The previously reported "scary spot" has been improved and is not particularly scary. Not to say that just anybody should be out here. Plenty of people would not be comfortable on any of this trail. It is exposed, angled, and there's lots of scree. It is definitely not for the inexperienced canyon hiker.

    I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of shade. Don't get me wrong. It is a south and west facing hike almost the entire way. But I was happy that there are some occasional junipers and little overhangs or drainages that provide a brief respite from the blazing sun. But there are not many.

    The traverse seems to go on forever, and when the trail finally drops off Tilted Mesa, the footing becomes spectacularly loose. I was happy to have trekking poles to help with stability (a heavy pack on your back certainly doesn't help), but still managed to fall twice.

    Once at the creek, we found a suitable camp site in some cottonwoods just across the creek and slightly downstream of where the trail enters. There is a good flat area for camping several hundred yards upstream as well, but there is very little shade there. A bit over a mile upstream there is another good camping area, this one shaded and flat, but unless your route is taking you upstream, I wouldn't consider going that far to camp.

    The hike downstream to the river was pleasant and relatively easy. Once near the river, stick to the use paths and head south to the beaches and the Granaries trail. Following the creek into the delta to the river will get you tangled in a mess of tamarisk and other scrub brush.

    On the hike out, we left at sunrise, and in the 2+ hours it took to reach Tilted Mesa we were pleasantly surprised that about half the hike was shaded. This will be less true later into the fall as the sun rises farther south than in late September. Once on the traverse, the only shade was found in the occasional drainage, overhang, or small treel.

    Don't underestimate the last 3-miles once you reach the saddle. It lasts forever, and the 400-foot climb about a mile from the car is the last thing you want to deal with after 5-6 hours of hiking already!

    Fun Stuff:
    Great group of people. Good to meet Karl for the first time. I think BobP was there, but he likes to hike when normal people are asleep, so I'm not really sure. I think he did about 40 miles the rest of us skipped. It was a very safe trip, with some taking safety more seriously than others, for which I was supremely thankful. Not sure why rafters carry PBR on the river, and I might have complained, but that's not like me, so I just shut up and enjoyed a Modela instead. Also had a pretty G'Knight. Or 4. Slept great! :)

    First night was warm for sleeping, but a cold front pushed through with crazy winds late Saturday night and Sunday. Got sand blasted on the beach by the river a little bit. Went for a swim in 47-degree cold Colorado river. Very refreshing. :o Sunday night was much cooler and very pleasant for sleeping. The Mountain House dinners were good I suppose. I was disappointed nobody brought bacon, but somehow survived anyway.

    Of course this all ended at NiMarcos where everybody (not just 9L) consumed more calories than we could have possibly burned hiking out earlier in the day. Pizza and wings make for a pretty good post-hike snack.

    Fun trip. Thanks for getting the permit Larry!
    Nankoweap Trail #57
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    That is one steep trail.

    We made camp at the trailhead Friday night and headed out early Saturday morning. After making your way to the edge of the rim, you make an initial steep descent. The trail quickly evens out into an extremely long traverse. As you approach Tilted Mesa everything changes. The hike quickly becomes a real toe smasher and continues that way all the way to the bottom. It's painful. Its definitely worth it-- its not the prettiest trail in the canyon but it's still the Grand Canyon so it's awesome by default. The rumored "sketchy spot" is not at all sketchy. The only areas causing concern are while hiking on the steep skree areas.

    We got to the creek pretty early. I hung out and let the others scout around to pick a camp area. Bob had left at like 2am and he was still out exploring. The guys returned with a camping decision and they had picked up a Bob along the way. The creek is nice and clear and Chumley made us a nice little pool.

    Sunday morning we took our time getting up and headed down the creek to the river. Its nice hike down there-- no real obstacles and you can avoid getting wet. Everyone split up by the time we hit the river and we eventually all found each other. We scammed some beers from some rafters and then headed up to see the ruins. Its a steep trail up there but the view from the granaries is awesome. We hung out for a bit and then headed down when we saw a new crew of rafters hit the beach-- we would scam more beers from these folks. We eventually headed back up creek and relaxed the rest of the day.

    Monday morning we woke up early. I got up at 5am and apparently didn't get around fast enough to eat breakfast since we wanted to get the steep part done before it warmed up. I would see how 5,500 ft feels on nothing but Cliff Bar power. I was getting nervous about the hike the night before but it turned out to not be so bad even with a heavy pack on. We had cached water on the way down so no one would have to ration. Karl and I stayed near the back of the crew and we trudged our way out of the ditch.

    We finally made it back to the trailhead around 2pm and enjoyed some cold beer-- well worth the effort. We headed back to Flagstaff to watch 9L suck on some wings at NiMarco's as usual and then back on home to Phoenix.

    Awesome weekend! Thanks for setting this up, Larry! :)
    Nankoweap Trail #57
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Spectacular, beast of a hike. Started from the west (FR 610) trailhead, reached Nankoweap Creek by mid-morning. You don't want to be starting the climb back out in the heat of the day, so I wandered slowly down to the Colorado and back, stopping frequently to eat, drink, rest and soak in the gorgeous water. I had visited the granaries on a raft trip a few years ago, so I didn't feel the need to hike up and see them again. Waited until about 4PM to start the climb out, reached the park boundary by nightfall and finished by headlamp and moonlight. I'd rate this as easily the toughest GC hike I've done yet.

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