Overview: A canyon complex that is useful as containing 3 known connector routes useful for off-trail travel in the Grand Canyon.
Warning: This area is neither maintained nor patrolled by the Park Service, it can be very hot with minimal (and bad tasting) water in the area. Be comfortable with travel through remote places.
Be warned, THERE IS NO ACCESS TO THE COLORADO RIVER from the Trinity Canyon Complex.
History: Butchart and Steck have written enough on this area. As far as I know, it's only attraction is the ease with which one can connect to other more interesting areas of the canyon.
Trinity Canyon is named because it has 3 distinct arms.
Hike: Trinity Canyon, in its lower parts, consists of what is called "basement rock". I am told this is rock that is over 4 billion years old, and the oldest exposed rock on earth. Not being a geologist, I pass on these trivia bits at face-value. It is a rather attractive mix of what appears to be black/dark-gray granite with veins of pink. I can't quite compare it to anything else I've seen.
It has been reported that lower Trinity beneath the confluence of the East Arm and Main (West) Arm is travelled only a short distance before reaching impassable dryfalls. There is no access to the Colorado River. I was unable to confirm these reports first-hand. I have seen photos of people stopped by a dryfall who travelled up the bottom of lower trinity from the river on raft trips.
The East Arm is the shortest of the 3 arms of Trinity, as it is destined to dead end into Shiva. This arm of the canyon consists of fragmented rock jumbles. Travel is not particularly easy, but there are no technical scrambles.
It has two good features:
1) The "Fault" access is into this canyon from the east side, this allows easy hiking access to the Isis-Cheops Saddle Route. (Generally no scrambling needed).
2) Either directly across from the "Fault" access, or a short distance north, there are western leading exits onto the Tonto layer. This provides (reportedly) faster access to the North Arm than staying directly in the canyon.
Main (West) Arm:
The Main Arm is the longest of the 3 and travels in a generally northwesterly direction. A short distance from the confluence with the east arm are what are known as the Trinity tanks, which is where a small seep can usually be found. 2 potholes hold maybe 10 gallons each of water for quite some time after a rain, though I wouldn't want to filter out of them unless I had no other choice. Be warned, the water, though perfectly clear, tastes absolutely awful, I recommend something to mix in it, such as gatorade.
Travel up the main arm is easy, it is like walking along a gravel beach. The terrain is very flat. While I did not travel all the way to the head of the main arm, it appeared to be the same consistency for as far as I could see past where I turned around. No route has been reported near the head of the main arm, but 2 routes are reported that head south and west. One of them at the end of the posted GPS route that utilizes a small drainage. The other about halfway to this point that is more of a direct scramble. You can also access the north arm this way.
The North Arm takes one to the Shiva-Isis saddle. I believe there are two ways to use the North Arm, though I have only been able to confirm one route in-person. The first is direct travel up the main arm, turn right, and head up the north arm. The second is to use the East Arm exits to get onto the Tonto layer and shortcut to the North arm about halfway. I am told the latter is much faster. I believe this to be true because the North arm consists of jumbled rocks and is nearly a constant rock-scramble. Although not technical, is is slow going. Every two steps you are generally going up 2-3 ft onto another rock.
The upper part of North Arm is useful as a Redwall Route. Continuing up the north arm, staying in the main part of this drainage, you will climb until you get to a narrow slot that takes you through the redwall. If descending from above, make sure you begin descent AT THE SADDLE, and not the drainage that starts a bit southwest of the saddle. This slot is a bit difficult for non-rock climbers as there is about an 8 ft stemming section that one must upclimb/downclimb. Other than this one (perhaps YDS class 3-), obstacle, the rest is not difficult travel, though perhaps moderate scrambling. If in groups, a partner assist may help those uncomfortable with doing this slot, especially with packs on...since it is narrow, packs are problematic without an extra person around.
Once up onto the saddle, travel west is possible on this layer, leading to the Shiva Entrace/Exit Route from Upper Phantom, or to the Shiva Saddle, north of Shiva that divides Outlet from the East fork of Dragon.
Water Sources: Trinity Seeps, though not reliable, will likely have water in spring, or after rain. Be warned, it tastes foul, though the seeps are clear. The pothole tanks in this area will hold water, but are gross.
Camping: Camping is difficult when you want to get out of the drainage to camp in a safe spot. Do not camp in the bed of the canyon, as any night rains will wash you away in a flash flood. I have no good suggestions, be on the lookout for a spot. Utilize the exit routes to access the Tonto (or above the redwall) layer where the ground is more flat, and maybe clear enough in areas for a tent or two.
Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.
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.
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