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Cheyava Falls, AZ

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Guide 8 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Northwest > North Rim
4.5 of 5 by 4
HAZ reminds you to respect the ruins. Please read the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 & Ruins Etiquette
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Difficulty 4.5 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance Round Trip 8 miles
Trailhead Elevation 3,685 feet
Elevation Gain 1,000 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,378 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 7 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 14.89
Interest Off Trail Hiking, Ruins, Seasonal Waterfall, Seasonal Creek & Perennial Creek
Backpack Yes
Dogs not allowed
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Will recalculate on button tap!
10  2017-04-01 Dave1
91  2016-04-28
Clear Creek Trail - GCNP
21  2015-05-23
Clear Creek Trail - GCNP
27  2014-11-27
Clear Creek Trail - GCNP
29  2014-11-27
Clear Creek Trail - GCNP
30  2012-03-25
Clear Creek Trail - GCNP
70  2010-04-23 Al_HikesAZ
Author Al_HikesAZ
author avatar Guides 11
Routes 88
Photos 2,643
Trips 241 map ( 2,306 miles )
Age 87 Male Gender
Location Scottsdale, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Mar, Nov, Apr, Oct → Early
Seasons   Spring to Spring
Sun  6:16am - 6:25pm
Official Route
2 Alternative
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Ellsworth thought intermittent
by Al_HikesAZ

Multiple day backpack for most. Guide stats only represent the final offtrail stretch.

Cheyava Falls is the tallest waterfall in Arizona - beating out Angel Falls, Seven Cataracts and Carr Falls. Cheyava also rates as the highest in Magnitude and Aesthetics in AZ.

Cheyava cascades from the North Rim on the southern end of the Walhalla Plateau north of Honan Point. Often the Falls are merely a wet streak on the Canyon Wall. But in the Spring after a wet winter as the snow on the North Rim melts, Cheyava Falls become truly impressive cascading 800 feet down the Redwall Limestone. The longest drop is about 400 feet, then it cascades another 400 feet through a brushy slope and into Clear Creek. Thick foliage keeps you from reaching the base of the falls. Seeing Cheyava Falls flowing strong is high on the list for avid Grand Canyon Hikers.

Ellsworth Kolb named the Falls.
"After the USGS river trip in the summer of 1923, Colonel Claude H. Birdseye suggested that Ellsworth give it a name, preferably of Indian origin. Ellsworth supposed the water flowed only intermittently, and he suggested Cheyava, a Hopi word meaning intermittent river"

First you have to get to the Trailhead at Clear Creek Campground. Many hikers go to Bright Angel Campground or Phantom Ranch on Day One (an 8 to 10 mile trip) and then to Clear Creek Campground on Day Two (a 9 to 10 mile trip). Physically fit and experienced Backpackers can make it to Clear Creek Campground in one day (an 18 to 20 mile trip) depending on the weather and temperatures. See the Clear Creek Trail Description.

If Cheyava Falls is running and worth seeing, you will get wet on this hike so have appropriate footwear and dress accordingly. At times you will walk in the creek and you will cross it many times.

Starting from the Clear Creek Campground, head up creek. Access to the upper region of Clear Creek and Cheyava Falls begins with a fairly narrow section through the Shinumo cliffs that surround the camping area at the end of the Clear Creek Trail. Recent erosion of the streambed has created (or re-created) a small waterfall obstacle but it seems easy enough to step across above the falls rather than climbing up from below. Depending on the volume of flow, getting started upstream could be a problem. We had several substantial creek crossings. We then found a faint but reasonably well-defined trail through thickets of horsetail, permitting much faster hiking than bushwhacking through the brush or working your way up the shallow creek. The first half-mile or so is the brushiest and the toughest to follow; then the canyon opens up.

The canyon branches about a mile north of the camping area. Stay right and follow the creek bed northeast past cottonwood trees and striated cliffs toward the North Rim.

Obi Canyon comes in from the west and the flow may diminish slightly; stream flow decreases again above the next western fork with Ariel Canyon. The way to Cheyava Falls turns east into what seems like a lesser drainage but is really the longest arm. Thor Temple is on your right.

Note the contrast in vegetation as you make your way north. The area near the creek is a lush riparian habitat while just a few yards away is a parched desert landscape, scattered with yucca and beavertail cactus.

Although you don't notice it much, you gain more than 1,000 feet of elevation during the approach to the Falls, giving you great vistas on your return hike down-canyon.

Back at Clear Creek camp high above to the southeast are The Howlands Butte and Dunn Butte, named after the three men who abandoned Powell's first expedition prematurely at Separation Canyon and were never seen again (O.G. Howland, Seneca Howland and Willam H. Dunn). Low stone walls have been built at the camps to mitigate the winds. The winds can be a blessing to keep the gnats away.

USGS Topo Maps for Phantom Ranch and Walhalla Plateau are helpful.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2010-04-29 Al_HikesAZ
  • Grand Canyon Use Area Boundaries - Dynamic Map
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
Cheyava Falls
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Down S. Kaibab, across Clear Creek Trail, then bushwhack to the base of Cheyava Falls. Clear Creek was running higher and browner than usual. Had to walk through it quite a few times. Returned to the rim via Bright Angel Trail. There was a large rock slide along the River Trail last week but NPS already cleared it.
Cheyava Falls
rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
Saturday: Hiked down South Kaibab then took the Clear Creek Trail over to CC. Light rain on/off all day.

Sunday: Hiked up to Cheyava Falls (dry) and a little beyond. Checked out some other side canyons and did a little bit of exploring. Light rain at times.

Monday: Hiked out from CC. Rain in the morning. Sunny and hot by the time we got to Phantom Ranch. Hiked out Bright Angel.
Cheyava Falls
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
It was another memorable trip into my beloved Grand Canyon! Lee, Karl and I spent four days backpacking along the Clear Creek Trail. We had nice weather overall and made good use of our time.

Day 1 - November 27, 2014
The three of left Phoenix around 6am and drove up to the south rim. We dumped Lee’s car at the South Kaibab parking area and headed down the SK Trail starting around 10am. We made good time and cruised down to the Tipoff. At that point Lee and I decided to hike the Miner’s Route. Karl was feeling under the weather and would meet us at Phantom Ranch.

This was my second time on the Miner’s Route and it was quite a ride. The footing is very loose and off camber and a full pack doesn’t make things easier. We were able to slowly follow the route as it zigzagged down and both of us had no issues. We arrived on the River Trail and it was smooth sailing to Phantom Ranch.

We met Karl at the canteen and the three of us loaded up on water and then started up the Clear Creek Trail prepared for a dry camp. The trail gains over a thousand feet in the first two miles as you hike beneath the Tapeats and the Great Unconformity. We arrived at the two mile point and found some campers there so we continued the half mile to Sumner Wash and found plenty of good camping there. We set up camp and settled in for the evening. The sun set around 5:20pm and it was dark by 6pm. It got very cold and I was a little worried for the rest of the trip. We all headed for our tents before 8pm. Luckily this night was by far the coldest of the three nights.

Day 2 – November 28, 2014
We woke on Friday morning and took our time breaking down camp. Lee and Karl had plans to hit Brahma but Karl wasn’t feeling up to it due to being under the weather. The three of headed east on the Clear Creek Trail and dropped down to Clear Creek where we selected the main site nestled under a cluster of Cottonwoods. This is a sweet site and the creek is close by. A pit toilet is also available. There are lots of good camping sites in this area.

It was about noon by the time we had camp set up. Karl wanted to relax in camp while Lee and I headed up stream in search of ruins and Cheyava Falls. We both knew the falls would be dry (they flow in the spring) but wanted the adventure. We made decent time as we scanned the area for ruins. We found the main site roughly a mile north of camp. I didn’t realize it was a full complex with 21 rooms. There is also a register. Take a fresh notebook if you go because the current one is just about full. It dates back to 1999.

After the ruins we continued up Clear Creek and followed an established route to Cheyava Falls. We had to cross the creek a few times but never had to get our feet wet. It’s likely there is a stronger flow in the spring so be prepared to get your feet wet. We made good time and then could see the falls and yes they were bone dry. We got a little closer but were running low on time. I wanted to be back to camp by 5pm to avoid darkness. Lee did some quick exploring while I filtered water. We started our return around 3pm and cruised back to the camp. I didn’t realize how much elevation we gained until we headed down canyon.

We got back to camp and settled in for another evening. We were expecting it to be bitter cold but were pleasantly surprised to find mild temps. We set up the party lights in the Cottonwood trees and our neighbors were jealous. Funny thing the next morning one of our neighbors walked up and asked if we were camping at Deer Creek a month ago. She recognized the party lights. Sure enough yes that was us. We had a good laugh at what a small world it is.

Day 3 – November 29, 2014
Karl was feeling better and Lee was getting an itch for Brahma. They quickly packed up camp and headed back to our first night’s camp. I stayed behind. I wanted to do some exploring down canyon. I would meet them later.

I got my day pack together and told them my plan and I was off down canyon. I followed Clear Creek south and came to the intersection with an east arm. I scoped this out on maps ahead of time and wanted to take a look. I hiked in about a mile. The creek bed is dry through here and walls are really high. There is a mixture of Shinumo Quartzite and Bass Limestone among other formations. I want to return here when I have more time. I returned to main intersection and then headed a bit down Clear Creek. This is another amazing drainage and I want to return with more time to go all the way to the Colorado River.

After my brief hike downstream I returned to camp under the Cottonwoods and relaxed for an hour or so. During this time I ate and filtered more water. I wanted to be prepared for another dry camp at Sumner Wash. I left camp around noon and cruised the six plus miles back to our first night’s camp. Karl and Lee’s tents were set up. They were exploring the Redwall break and would return within an hour or two.

We settled in for our last evening as we ate dinner and then lay on our backs and did some star gazing. It was clear skies tonight but the moon was out and was very bright at roughly 60% full. I got lucky and saw a few satellites and a pair of shooting stars.

Day 4 – November 30, 2014
We woke fairly early and had camp broken down by 7am. We hit the trail soon after and cruised back to Phantom Ranch. My pack was noticeably lighter. I weighed it at the ranch and it was 27.5 lbs. It weighed 42 lbs on Thursday after I loaded up on water.

The hike up South Kaibab was the typical grind but it flew by. The skies were overcast and the temps were cool. We topped out around noon and then loaded up and headed back to Phoenix. Another wonderful trip complete!

This was a really fun trip and great company. I would definitely return to Clear Creek with more time to spend exploring. I would love to see Cheyava Falls gushing. That would be a sight to behold! Thanks Lee for picking up the permits and driving.
Cheyava Falls
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I finished November in the exact way I started the month, climbing out of the Grand Canyon. Karl myself and John headed to the Clear Creek area for four days.

Day 1:

We did not rush out of town on Thanksgiving day. I had to drop the dogs off, Karl was feeling a little under the weather and there was no reason to rush to the Canyon, as we had lined up a short opening day and were not stressing the after ten start time. The highlight of day one was the Miner's route and Tamales at Phantom Ranch. I found the Miner's Route to be pretty cool and was happy I decided to make the short detour with John. We met Karl at Phantom for a long lunch and then headed for the Clear Creek Trail. We camped at Sumner's Creek area, the starting point for Brahma, were treated to a great sunset and were probably all in bed by 8:30 p.m.

Day 2

I woke up thinking Karl and I were heading off for a Brahma attempt, but it was very clear from the start he was in no shape for that, his flu/cold effects were still lingering. I was excited to give Brahma a shot and was happy to have Karl along because of his experience, but it was evident that we just needed to get him to Clear Creek where he could relax for nearly two days if he wanted to. The hike to Clear Creek was great, seemed to go by pretty quickly. John and I explored up Clear Creek while Karl stayed back at camp. We located the well known set of Indian ruins, and I snapped a picture of the less visited site near Cheyava Falls(which were dry as expected). The ruins were in the exact location mentioned in Butchart's book, however, without positive identification I was not ready for the commitment to explore further, but upon review of picture it is definitely them. Therefore, I will be returning. We enjoyed a nice couple of hours under the party lights, a slightly warmer night and a good night's sleep.

Day 3

I got the crazy idea of getting up early and heading back to Brahma for at least a quick recon, then dry camping Saturday evening and enjoying a shorter hike out Sunday. Karl, although not looking the greatest, thought he might be up for at least a trip to the break in the red wall and John was actually good with the plan. He would stay at Clear Creek for most of the morning exploring some side canyons and then meet us back at the Sumner Creek/wash area later in the afternoon. So Karl and I headed back to Brahma a day later and with a little bit more of a time crunch. Clear Creek Trail can seem to drag on a little, but the first section climbing out of Clear Creek or dropping into Clear Creek is a real gem and I really enjoyed the trail and area overall.

Even with moving camps and Karl battling the Ebola we were still staring at the base of the first climb within the distinct crack of the red wall just afternoon. However, I kind of sealed the fate for the rest of the day by wasting nearly 45 minutes looking for a climbing route right up the center of the crack. I literally made three different attempts. Karl watched and yelled out occasional tips, but nothing about it made sense to me. Joe said it was tricky but nothing crazy and I found myself in what I would call a "crazy" position. In fact, my fight or flight kicked in and left me worthless for a good ten minutes, but I jumped right back up and gave it another shot before I accepted defeat. We then hung out in the remaining shade ate some lunch, I was pining a bit about what the whole situation, but we both agreed to head back. About 30 feet into our hike back, Karl and I almost simultaneously noticed a distinct cairn on our left and then what looked to be a great route up. Duh! The route was clear as day. Rather then dwell over the several mistakes I had just made and the easy ways I could have avoided them, I just shot up the route. There was rope secured in a few spots along the way, but obviously not necessary, as one was tightly secured making it unusable from below. I found the climbing and scrambling to be fairly easy, especially, after having tried to free climb up the pour over area in the beginning. It felt so great to reach the top of that little break, the views from the saddle were truly breathtaking and it was a very exhilarating experience for me overall. A modest feat to many, but a very satisfying experience for myself. From there I continued on route and decided to go until a 2:30 or 3:00 p.m. drop dead time. I realized quickly that the first little climb through the break hardly means you are there. I was on and off the route and generally rushing too much, along with probably climbing too much, the latter further reinforcing that I should just head back and call it a successful recon, which I did. Besides I had kind of irresponsibly left Karl behind in the crack and just yelled down that I would turn around by 3, about half way up the second climb I heard him yelling from saddle area that he would wait for me. I was starting to feel like I was holding the guy hostage and I knew he was not feeling well so I headed back. I assured Karl that I was good to go from the saddle and he could return to camp. Meanwhile, I headed out towards Sumner Butte and tested my mettle a little on the narrow land bridge connecting it to the larger terrain features. Returned to camp, Karl was there, John was there and all was good.

Day 4:

Living by the old adage that men walk quicker out of battle then into battle we all made great time out Sunday morning. Even with a stop at Phantom Ranch I don't think anyone took longer then 4.5 hours to reach S. Rim and vehicle.

This was just another very satisfying Canyon trip, great company and a great destination. I feel the bug for the canyon even more now after my modest first ascent up just a crack in the wall. But I gained some good experience, got a much better understanding of the area and feel pretty good about knocking it out completely with more time and planning.
Cheyava Falls
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South Rim to Clear Creek
Friday 4/23/10 - Left Phoenix at 0430. Stopped for breakfast in Flagstaff and arrived at Bright Angel TH at 0830. Checked in at the Bright Angel Desk to make sure we were confirmed for the Phantom Ranch Steak Dinner on Sunday 04/25 and for breakfast on Monday 04/26. We were too late for the Hiker Express Shuttle so we took the Blue Line to the Visitor Center and the Green Line to the South Kaibab TH. The Canyon had experienced several days of rain. It was very overcast with a 20% chance of rain diminishing to a 10% chance of rain overnight. Started SK at 0930. Strolled leisurely and arrived Phantom Ranch at 1230. Rested and ate lunch then started up the Clear Creek Trail at 1300. I had significant anxiety about SK because of my knee, but my knee held up well. I had significant anxiety about the climb out of PR on CC. The start of CC is very pleasant. You gain about 1,500' in about 1.5 miles but it is a well-constructed trail with nice grade. The overlook of Phantom Ranch from the Bench is well worth the climb. We met NPS Volunteer Bill Forman from Moab who checked our permit. We continued across CC. This trail can be brutal in hot weather, it is long and exposed with a lot of rolling ascent/descent. We hiked in a light drizzle/easy rain. The final descent on the CC trail to the campground is brutal. You descend about 550' in the last 0.7 miles. We thought that 200m felt much like Nankoweap trail and 200m felt like Tapeats trail. These sections could be scary for someone not familiar with tough trails in the Canyon.

We arrived at CC campground at 1715. The wind blows fierce through the camp. We had seen photos of rock wall bunkers in the campground and now we understood why these had been built up. The first camp was occupied so we proceeded a little further to the second camp. It was excellent. Eric set up his Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo for the first time and did well setting it up in these conditions. I carried my MSR Hubba because of the rain. We had read Jamie Campos' trip report of his 4/19-4/20 trip so we were prepared for Clear Creek running high and silty. I brought my Sea to Summit 10L bucket which we used to scoop water from the creek. We let the silt settle and then draped a piece of polypro across the bucket and filtered water. It was cold, especially with the wind. I wore my raingear to block the wind and for a little (but not quite enough) warmth. Turned in at 2000. I stayed up a little to study the map for Cheyava.

Clear Creek to Cheyava Falls.
We woke at 0600. Spoke to some hikers from Park City in the first camp. They had been to Cheyava the day before and had several high water crossings. Took them 3.5 hours to the Falls and 3.5 hours back. They had not found the ruins. Started on the trail at 0700. We were joined by Doug and Craig who were camped at CC. Craig had been to the Falls several years before. The rain had stopped and the creek was down a little from its high. The first three crossings out of camp were the worst - mid-calf high and fast. Eric and I were wearing Keen shoes and hydrosocks so we did fine. Craig and Doug had on regular boots and socks - this would come back to really haunt Doug with horrible blisters. We found trails and cairns in various places but had to bushwhack our way numerous times. If you are not comfortable with offtrail bushwhacking and creek crossings, this trail is not for you. The first view of the Falls was from about 1 mile south. At one point we were up high from the creek and faced choices of bushwhacking through thick shindaggers, bushwhacking through thick manzanita, or bushwhacking back down a small cliff to the creek. We chose bushwhacking through the manzanita. We got to the Falls. Craig said that on his prior trip he had bushwhacked to the north side of the Falls and it really wasn't any better than the view from south of the Falls. We took his advice. I had seen a Gary Ladd photo of Cheyava Falls and shown it to Eric. We decided it was from up the hill across from the Falls. We were carrying 30' of 1" webbing and 30' of 5mm static rope. We split from Doug and Craig and worked our way across the creek and climbed up the hill - a nice little Class 4; we didn't need to set protection. We waited a while in the shade of a juniper as the sun angle changed. I took a couple of photos. We decided we could get down off of the ledge without protection. We started downcreek making good time - partly by just staying in the creek since we had the proper footwear. We caught up with Doug and Craig. We saw several nice campsites in the Cheyava Use Area. Craig showed us where he thought the ruins might be. Eric scouted up the hill and confirmed. We found what must have been the Granary; it has manos and metates outside of it. Eric continued to scout the face of the cliff and we found significant ruins all along the cliff. Eric's most interesting find was a piece of shaped wood with grooves in it about 8" apart. We thought it might have been the anchor for a ladder to get up to the main room. We saw what we think had been an agave pit below the ruins. We decided we had seen enough. Eric did some scree surfing, followed by Doug and Craig. Discretion being the better part of valor, I butt surfed my way down. We returned to camp.

Clear Creek to Phantom Ranch.
We woke at 0600. We hit the trail at 0800 for a nice leisurely stroll back to PR. We chatted with two different groups of hikers on CC. The sky was clear and it was starting to get hot. PR hit 85? this afternoon. Set up camp and went up to the Canteen for a Lemmy. Craig showed us what he does to have his gear hauled out by mule. I'm conflicted by this. If I haul it in, I feel that I should haul it out. And I don't want to support the mules. But I suppose if it is the only way for someone to continue enjoying the Canyon, or for someone with medical conditions, I guess it's ok for them. Enjoyed the steak dinner at 1700. Back to camp and met NPS Ranger Brian Bloom. Bil Vandergraf wasn't working that day. Then back to the Amphitheater for NPS Ranger Pam Cox's presentation on Major John Wesley Powell. She gave a great presentation and really illustrated the hardships and problems encountered by the expedition. She is an NPS Naturalist involved with the California Condor project. Interesting insights on Condor #26. I learned a few things about the water system I had never known. I showed her the photo of the wooden support from the ruins and she thought it probably was a ladder support. These Native Americans did have ropes made from agave and/or yucca and could have used a ladder.

Phantom Ranch to the Rim
We woke at 0530 and started breaking camp. We went to the late breakfast at 0630. We came back to camp, packed and started up the Bright Angel Trail at 0800. We arrived at IG at 1000 and the thermometer already showed 82?. IG was crowded with a group of 6th Graders from a school in Flag, a troop of Boy Scouts from Nashua NH and the mule riders. Continued leisurely to the Rim and arrived at 1300. Bright Angel Lodge is undergoing renovations so the Rest Rooms are closed and they had construction trailer rest rooms southwest of the Lodge. The Rim was really crowded with tourists. We ate lunch and headed home. We were delayed by a bad accident south of Tusayan between a big Motor Home and a Pickup truck. Arrived home at 1900.

Permit $$
Information is listed below

Map Drive
Paved - Car Okay

To hike
Directions to South Kaibab 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.

You can only reach the trailhead by free-shuttle or taxi. Parking is available at several lots. There is a lot a mile from the trailhead on the east drive. If you are there early you can use this lot (it fills up fast) and hike the two miles there and back. Express hikers? shuttles directly from Bright Angel Lodge and the Backcountry Information Center to the South Kaibab trailhead depart daily at:
March 7:00 a.m., 8:00 a.m., and 9:00 a.m.
April 6:00 a.m., 7:00 a.m., and 8:00 a.m.
May 5:00 a.m., 6:00 a.m., and 7:00 a.m.

NPS Note: The South Kaibab Trail is located near Yaki Point. Due to the popularity of this area and extremely limited space, parking is not permitted at the trailhead. Hikers must use the park?s free shuttle bus system to reach the trailhead. Every morning, several hiker express buses leave from the Bright Angel Lodge and then from the Backcountry Information Center (times vary depending on the month). Otherwise, hikers will need to take the village bus (Blue Line) to Canyon View Information Plaza and transfer to the Green Line. South Kaibab trailhead is the first stop on the Green Line.
page created by Al_HikesAZ on Apr 29 2010 4:29 pm
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