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Skeleton Point Route, AZ

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Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Northwest > South Rim
4 of 5 by 2
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Difficulty 4 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance One Way 0.5 miles
Trailhead Elevation 3,923 feet
Elevation Gain 1,004 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,004 feet
Avg Time One Way 1 hour
Kokopelli Seeds 3.85
Interest Off Trail Hiking
Backpack No
Dogs not allowed
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25  2013-09-27
Old BA & Miners Route & Skeleton Pt Rt
28  2013-03-16
Old BA & Miners Route & Skeleton Pt Rt
Author John9L
author avatar Guides 6
Routes 170
Photos 4,848
Trips 1,619 map ( 11,024 miles )
Age Male Gender
Location Scottsdale, AZ
Historical Weather
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Preferred   Mar, Nov, Apr, Oct
Sun  6:15am - 6:27pm
Official Route
1 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Redwall Break Route
by John9L

The Skeleton Point Route leads through a break in the Redwall and deposits you on the South Kaibab Trail just above the switchbacks around the halfway point. It’s a short route at just over a half mile but gains a thousand feet in that span. The route can be followed in either direction but it’s safer ascending.

This is not a trail. Only hikers who are experienced in off-trail exploration in the Grand Canyon should attempt this route. Route-finding can be a challenge, and this route requires ample class-3 scrambling along poor surface conditions and some exposure. A misstep on this route could result in serious injury or death.

The route starts on the Tonto Trail a little under a half mile west of the South Kaibab Trail. Start by identifying the break in the Redwall. You can follow the wash or the sloping Bright Angel Shale. The sloping Bright Angel Shale is the easiest route. As you proceed towards the break, you’ll need to aim to the right in order to proceed through the Muav Limestone. Continue on and you will see signs of foot traffic and a use trail as you near the break. Follow the use trail to the break and begin making the scramble up. Be careful because there is scree and loose rock along the route.

About half way up the break you will encounter some animal bones. Continue up following whatever route you’re comfortable with. There is some scrambling with exposure and more scree. After some work you climb out of the break and find yourself on the South Kaibab trail. From there you can continue to the rim or whatever is your destination.

This is a great route to combine with the Miner’s Route for an express hike up from the river.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

This is a moderately difficult hike.

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

2013-04-25 John9L
  • Grand Canyon Use Area Boundaries - Dynamic Map

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
Skeleton Point Route
rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
Old BA & Miners Route & Skeleton Pt Rt
Second attempt at Miner's Route was successful!! :wlift: : rambo : :y:

First time I tried to go up Lower Miner's it was :pk: HOT and I was alone and not nearly as strong as I am currently. It seems I'm in the midst of some sort of hiking tear and I'm REALLY enjoying it!!

I grabbed my buddy Erin (I knew she could physically do this and with me in the lead I knew she'd be OK) and we hopped down BA ran in to TONS of Canyon friends, David Cassidy a hiker/guide friend of mine was finishing up a 9 person group of R2R-ers, Ranger Betsy on patrol, 3 guys from Florida heading up from IG, some random guy from Dallas heading down to find his mom, a sweet couple from Cali who we rented sleeping bags to at work, another random guy from O-H-I-O ](*,), and Mule Rancher Derryl,

Once we hit Indian Garden we realized that Mule Rancher Derryl was on his way down with a mule tour! Nooooo! Erin and I took off down the trail until we reached the Tonto where we heard Derryl say "If you look to your right you'll see my friend Haley heading across the Tonto Trail we probably won't see her again for a few days" :lol:

We trotted along at great speed along the Tonto until I realized I passed the "entrance" to the OLD BA trail, I just found it a few weeks ago with 9L so I wanted to take it! We made it down Old BA in what felt like seconds, but the mule group had caught up! I pointed out to Erin how the Old BA crosses and instantly heads down the OLD Devil's Corkscrew, you can't take the Old BA and NOT take the Old Corkscrew!!!
Again Mule Rancher Derryl said out loud "There she is again, Haley I wouldn't suggest going offtrail there" then he continued on to say "You'll see where they're walking is the Old trail that was used..." and then Erin and I were off on a scree filled adventure down the old corkscrew! : rambo : It's very easy to follow until the last 20 feet or so where it more or less vanishes, no matter, just go with it!

We continued down BA and hit the River trail where I pointed out our route to Erin then we ran off to Phantom for Lemonade ( :DANCE: ) and to introduce Erin to my trail crew friends and some friends that work at the Canteen, along the way a group asked us our itinerary so we told them...the word "Badass" was haphazardly tossed around multiple times, if only they knew what an understatement that feels like after having finished this fun little trek.

Ok so heading up the Miner's Route you will see a "route" of sorts...but really just go what feels right for you, I stuck to the Vishnu and Zoroaster "stairs" it was easy to dart up and not as "scree-ee" after a few minutes I realized I had officially climbed higher than my last trek, score! I waved Erin over my way and going was much easier for her, after that she dogged my steps and we had a grand old time.

There are two neat little saddles that are great to break at and enjoy the views, holy beans the entire Canyon SINGS to you from these vantage points!! I did step off the trail at one point, it went up a few feet further than I thought, it was so faint it was hard to follow it in some spots but I knew the way I was facing was wrong so we looked around, Erin called out "maybe it goes up?!" I looked ahead into the sun and spotted the trail uphill, duh Hippy!!

UP, UP, UP!!! My calves wouldn't be too happy with me if they hadn't been put through so much torture the past few months!
Eventually you reach a perfect saddle and the break in the Tapeats looms ahead, you reach it within minutes of leaving the saddle and from there just go up up up some more! The Miner's Cairn greets you at the top of the Tapeats and from there you just follow the uh..."trail" right into the Tonto...I have NEVER been so happy to run into the Tonto before!!

We followed the Tonto west until I found the "ridge" of Bright Angel Shale that heads up toward the break in the Red Wall known as Skeleton Point Route or Upper Miner's. 9L had suggested it would be easier to stick to the BA Shale ridge that goes up just to the right of the "wash" that runs down from the Break, we did just this, the going was not easy but not TOO hard, just hard on the lungs, phew!!

We spooked four pretty mule deer as we reached the Muav layer, I kept us on the big slabs of rock and the climb was much easier that way. Once we reached the bottom of the Redwall I kept heading up, it seemed logical at the time but once we reached the wall itself I KNEW something wasn't right, I had Erin wait by the wash while I inspected a climb to the right...this couldn't be right 9L would never doing something as ridiculous as this!!! And it didn't match everything I'd memorized...okay I'll try to the left, Erin came with me, we checked out another easy climb...I use the term easy very loosely... :scared:

I checked the third and last possibility from where we were and I just knew it wasn't right so I whipped out my phone and checked out the photos of the break that 9L had taken, those didn't help so I turned off airplane mode and made a quick call...from the middle of the Redwall!
Coverage was spotty and the call dropped within seconds, so I hit redial and ended up talking to Chumley...yea that was a big help :lol: Thanks for the laugh Uncle Chums! I managed to get ahold of John again and I quickly realized that Erin and I had climbed up into the Redwall prematurely! So we spent the next 15 minutes crawling, and I DO mean crawling! down the "wash" about 50 feet until I found this "VERY obvious" game trail...FYI all the monsoons we've had have washed away any trace of this "OBVIOUS" trail for the first 15 feet, before Erin and I climbed down we spotted it from above, once you know where it is it's pretty obvious...
I'd say just stay on top of the Muav Cliffed out layer, there's a "route" that leads from the wash directly to the break in the Redwall, after that it's cake! You climb up up up some more, walk over a TON of bones (named Fred of course) and 5 minutes after the bone yard you are slapped in the face with South Kaibab and it's tame, soft sand and walled in trail...

I've never been so happy to walk on South Kaibab! Don't get me wrong I thoroughly enjoyed all the offtrail, it as fantastic and fun and Erin was a champ and didn't even get scared or anything when I took us too high up! It was A BLAST!! Yes, these routes are strenuous but only because you climb SO many feet in such tiny sections, its STEEP but boy is it fun!!
Oh and of course all of the crazy exposure...but if you're not comfortable with that I don't know why you'd be off trail in the first place!! :A1:

I'm very happy that I finally got to do this, and I'm even happier that I got Erin to join me! She was very excited about the offtrail and hasn't stopped thanking me for taking her...

Well...what's next?! : rambo :
Skeleton Point Route
rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
Old BA & Miners Route & Skeleton Pt Rt
Quite a day in the canyon! I planned on hitting the corridor trails but wanted to do something a little different. In the past year I've learned about the Old Bright Angel Trail and the Miner's Route from a Grand Canyon book written by Wayne Tomasi. I also reviewed Sirena's pics from the Miner's Route and talked to Dave1 a few days before about the Skeleton Point Route. I did plenty of research and had a good idea on where I was going and I was on my way.

I started around 7am and cruised down BA. There was a little ice but it wasn't an issue. I passed by Indian Garden and continued to the Tonto where I headed east. At this point I pulled out my GPS and proceeded a quarter mile to the turnoff. I initially walked past the turnoff but quickly saw the route down the drainage. I returned and started making my way down the old trail. I was surprised how easy the trail is to follow. It's very obvious and is in relatively good condition. On the way down I detoured to the base of the Tapeats where I checked out the ruins and granaries. If you continue around the Tapeats you can reconnect on the main BA trail. I returned and continued down the Old BA which again was easy to follow and smooth sailing. After a few minutes I saw some hikers up ahead and knew I was close to the main BA. The Old BA reconnects with BA just above the Devil's Switchbacks.

The next couple of hours entailed cruising the rest of the way down the BA trail. I connected to the River Trail and headed towards the Silver Bridge. As I neared I checked out the ravine leading up the Miner's Route. The going looks tough! I continued on to Phantom Ranch where I took a break and had some lunch. From there I returned to the Silver Bridge and began heading up the Miner's Route.

Heading up the Miner's Route starts out with a bang! You find yourself climbing a steep ravine. There is a lot of scree and loose rock. I was very careful with each step. There are some switchbacks and even a modest trail to follow. I noticed right away there were recent foot prints. I thought this was a good sign. I continued up and eventually things level off at a saddle. At this point I could see solid trail and the foot prints continued. I continued on as the trail winds its way up. The going is steep and relatively slow. I had to take numerous breaks as the sun was beating down and I found my heart rate racing.

I continued on and after a few more minutes I reached another saddle and could see the Tapeats. The key to this route is finding the break in the Tapeats. I scanned for the break and didn't see it initially. I had to gain a little more elevation and then there it was plain as day. Right around here is the only place I lost trail. It didn't matter because I found it again as I proceeded to the break. The way up the break is straightforward. There are some switchbacks and some scrambling. After a few more minutes I reached the Miner's Cairn and knew I completed the route!

Next up was the Skeleton Point Route. I had the GPS Route loaded and made my way a quarter mile west on the Tonto Trail. As I reached the start of the track I located the break in the Redwall and thought it looks pretty nasty from here. Dave reassured me the route is easy to follow and perfectly safe. I decided to go for it and I'm glad I did. I started in the drainage and eventually had to climb out to the right. I continued up to the base of the Redwall and then turned left which put me right in the middle of the break. From there it was a scramble and climb up. There were a couple of sketchy sections but it wasn't too bad. After some work I topped off on the South Kaibab Trail above the switchbacks.

The rest of the hike up SK was uneventful. I made quick time and reached the rim within an hour or so. I continued on the Rim Trail and was going to follow it all the way back to the village but got bored and caught a bus back to the visitor center.

This was a hell of a hike! I did this all solo and felt comfortable just about the entire hike. Give the Miner's Route and Skeleton Point Route a try if you want to experience a new route up from the River. Just do some research and be prepared for the challenge.

Map Drive
Paved - Car Okay

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.

From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 235 mi - about 3 hours 42 mins
From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 340 mi - about 5 hours 12 mins
From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 88.1 mi - about 1 hour 33 mins
page created by chumley on Apr 25 2013 1:35 pm
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