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Old Bright Angel Trail - South Rim, AZ

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Guide 21 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Northwest > South Rim
3.8 of 5 by 4
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Difficulty 2.5 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance One Way 0.89 miles
Trailhead Elevation 3,747 feet
Elevation Gain -949 feet
Accumulated Gain 6 feet
Avg Time One Way 1
Kokopelli Seeds 0.91
Interest Off Trail Hiking
Dogs not allowed
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Will recalculate on button tap!
24  2017-11-11
SK-BA Loop Old BA Battleship
19  2017-09-23
Rim to Rim and Upper Ribbon Falls
26  2016-05-21
South Kaibab-Bright Angel Loop
21  2015-05-22
South Kaibab - Bright Angel Loop
14  2015-03-16
Bright Angel Trail
60  2014-10-17
Ruins near Indian Gardens and Old Bright
30  2014-05-18
Phantom Canyon - Lower
30  2014-05-17
Phantom Canyon - Lower
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
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Mar, Nov, Apr, Oct
Sun  6:17am - 6:24pm
Official Route
8 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Geology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby

Author Full Detail Guide
Now an unmaintained off-trail route, this is the old alignment of the Bright Angel trail on the South Rim, east of the current, officially maintained Bright Angel trail, beginning at the Tonto trail and heading down from there. This is a dangerous route and should not be attempted by hikers who are not experienced with off-trail hiking in the Grand Canyon.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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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 of 16 deeper Triplog Reviews
Old Bright Angel Trail - South Rim
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Hiking from North to South is second to a corridor hike anyway.

A moonless night made for a romantic transcanyon jaunt.

After crossing the silver bridge and heading up the Corkscrew Jamie and I, with our headphones in, made a quick decision with just a nod of our heads to bypass the tapeats narrows below IG and instead saunter up Old BA from the top of the Corkscrew at the granite pools to the Tonto then to IG.
There was a group of 3 guys a few minutes ahead of us at the granite pools, we beat them to IG by 5 minutes...but I wouldn't consider Old BA a shortcut unless you're ready to sweat... especially after already having hiked 20 miles through the night ;p

We left at sunset Friday night.
Made it to Bright Angel Lodge the next morning just in time for breakfast.

Total moving time 10hrs + 1hr rest at Phantom and 1hr rest at IG.

After breakfast I learned that I'd just been voted in as a member for Grand Canyon Historical Society!
Our whole reason for hiking r2r this trip was to attend the GCHS annual picnic at Shoshone Pt! Huzzah!
Old Bright Angel Trail - South Rim
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Rim to Rim to Rim
SK to skeleton PT, down old Miners to the Tonto platform, down the kickass tapeats break to the river trail, across black bridge to Phantom, lemonade, down to the silver bridge, up and over "the kiva route" to the lower section of Utah Flats Route, back to Phantom, more lemonade, up NK to the rim, 4 hour nap, down NK to Cottonwood, 2 hour nap, no lemonade :( , down to Ribbon Falls, back to Phantom Ranch, still no lemonade!! It's dark, they're closed...on we March... Cross silver bridge, up old corkscrew, cross new BA at granite pools, up old BA to the Tonto, sneak into Indian Gardens, nap 2 hours? near Creek, up BA to Kolb Seep, left trail on "Kolb Route", intersect Upper Old BA aka Cameron Route, emerge just east of upper tunnel, quazi nap right there, crawl to original Trailhead beside Kolb Studio... No margaritas... Taxi took forever to get us home.

Sleeping for the next three weeks...except work at 8am tomorrow.... Meeehhhhhh
Old Bright Angel Trail - South Rim
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Ruins near Indian Gardens and Old Bright
I posted on FB a picture of Plateau Point letting folks know I was going to be returning to the GC. John9L posted a comment about some Indian Ruins. Clyde was interested so I did some Rx online and found info about the Ruins and also contacted John9L via HAZ who was able to put a route together for Clyde to follow. Yes I know Chumley, I gotta work on following a GPS route by myself one of these days :whistle: .

So Friday AM after a leisurely breakfast, all but one of our group would be going to Phantom Ranch while Clyde and I would be 'sploring. Clyde had an idea where both sets of Ruins were from previous GC trips but he was excited to actually get to them this time. It was a slightly overcast day as we headed on down the Bright Angel Trail. There was the usual traffic coming and going. I enjoyed going up thru this Tapeats section in 2010 and I enjoyed it as we went down :D .

At about a mile down the trail from Indian Garden, we found the crossover point. But first we'd have to find a place to get over the creek. We found an option B just a tad up creek and crossed there and then up to where there is an actual trail :DANCE: . Wow, how lucky is that?! We wound up and around and thru some brush and large rocks where we topped out by a boulder with a "protect this site" sign. This and the other site are considered Class II:
Class II sites are more fragile and vulnerable to visitor impacts than Class I sites.

Proceeding east and past the rock you will soon come upon the beginning of the Garden Creek Ruins including a few granaries and remains of old structures. As you continue walking along you will see the last room with a great view of Zoroaster. We continued down around the corner and then over to look at the trail below us and the hill that is on the other side of the trail. The previous nite we thot we spotted a trail on top of that. We also noticed a former waterfall far to the SE though it was dry now. Not seeing any other evidence of ruins we decided to head back. I took some more video and pictures.

As we headed down the hill we saw the Phantom group across the way. We waved and then got distracted by a little waterfall. We found the area we had crossed before and were back on the BA trail. While up at the other ruins, we spotted the trail that would take us to the next set. We tried to eye where we would need to go up to catch the trail (on the right "south").

So you walk down the trail just a bit more before you head straight up to catch this other trail. You can somewhat see the trail altho we went up a bit too soon so if you're following our route, go just a tad further. We would meet up with that trail and start heading to the NE. Clyde spotted a deer :) so I grabbed a pic and I think some movie but I don't remember. I always feel the deer look so scrawny in the canyon.

Anyway you continue up and eventually round the corner and up some more. As we topped out we spotted the Old BA trail coming off the current Devil's Corkscrew. We would be joining up with that at a confluence of drainages a little later. In the distance you can just start to make out a granary. As we get closer we can see a couple rooms. One of them had been smashed by a rock :o . According to Clyde, this wasn't even the main event of the ruins on this side so it was a bonus item. Once again, past one of the upper granaries was a spectacular view to the NE.

We continued on to see what the next ruins would look like. These Bright Angel Wash Ruins had a cool cave with a granary above the rooms. Happy at our success in finding all the ruins we were now faced with the task of getting down from here. Near as Clyde could tell we needed to contour our way to the wash straight below :pray: . Well that was one :pk: of a lot harder than it even looked; though "doable" as johnr1 would say. It was slippery with many objects to have to negotiate. I did spot some arrowheads that had been left on a rock so I had to stop and admire those. So straight down it was for the most part but we both eventually made it.

We had a little break here thinking how alone we were in this very Grand Canyon next to that very busy trail on the other side of us. The weather couldn't have been better and the scenery was :worthy: . What a fun morning this was.

Now to figure out where the Old BA was from here. In the wash there wasn't a trail though I could see some sort of area that looked like you could hike up that south wash but we knew the trail was up this east/westish drainage and near the telephone poles. We got up on the hill a bit and I spotted the trail. We stayed on it and continued up and then back down into the drainage. Couldn't really spot an area to go across but the alternatives of just going across now, rather than up the drainage, seemed the best option. We once again hooked up with the trail such as it was.

We continued up the rocky trail being ever mindful of all the little switchbacks. We would also see the little telephone poles a couple more times. It would seem the trail ended but if you opened your eyes wider ;) , you could see a little crook of a trail and proceed. This would happen a couple times. Clyde says he ran into trouble last time cuz he missed one of these switchbacks. I found the going though a hard traverse, not too bad as we ascended up to the plateau. And then we saw the Tonto across the way.

Eventually and about 325 elev gain and 20 minutes later we get to the real eye candy of our journey as we are now on top of the plateau with 360 views :y: that just blew me away. It was hard to decide what to photograph so I did a 360 of photos :gun: ; just seemed easier that way so I wouldn't have to choose what I thot would be the best shot. In a little bit we would hook up with Tonto East but let me tell you, it would be very difficult to find that route in from the Tonto. You just have to be mindful as you are hiking up the Tonto that when you see the triangle of rocks (there are none previous), to veer left and head toward Zoraoster. The trail looks like the rest of the landscape at this point.

As we made our way back to Indian Gardens, we passed by the mules that were parked there for their morning break. The rest of the day was certainly one of leisure as I read, had lunch, tried to remember how to play solitaire and read the book on GC Trivia that was in the Indian Gardens Ammo can library. Was surprised it took me two tries to remember how to set up the cards for solitaire. I took a walk around the gardens and did a little exploring too. I was a little sore, well my calves were, from the trek down so I tried to keep them somewhat limber.

Our crew came up from their great time at Phantom Ranch around 4. A few of them took a swim in Garden Creek as well. 3 of them hiked right past us at camp as they missed the turn :lol: . We all had supper and did our best to finish up everyone's food and beverages before retiring for the nite and that dreaded hike up the BA Trail.

Here is video from our exploring this day:
Garden Creek Ruins -
Bright Angel Wash Ruins -
Old Bright Angel Trail -
Old Bright Angel Trail - South Rim
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Tuesday bike tour had a family of 5 with 3 kiddos, they hiked down SK camped at BAC then hiked out BA on Thursday morn with my help.

I met them down there as a moonlight guide of sorts. Awesome day!
Took them 9 hours to hike up. Took me 2 to hike down. Auugghhh but at least they felt safer and more comfortable with me there. They bought me a root beer float and paid for my ride to Phoenix. Such an awesome day, those kids ( ages 12,10 & 8 ) were troopers!!!! :D
Old Bright Angel Trail - South Rim
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Got back to Phantom finally!!
Its hot...flat out warm! Its reaching three digits easily at noon by the river


so glad to get down to see the Phantom crew too! They asked, as usual, if I had whiskey...

I took BA down to IG, filled up my water then headed east on the Tonto to Old BA I opted to follow the entire route down to Pipe Creek.

Looking up at the Garden Creek fall it really made me want to rappel again!! With 50° water and 100° rocks this MIGHT finally be possible.
Schedules are changing in the next week or so, I'll be getting my Friday, Saturday, Sundays off, Whoo!

Anyone interested in rapping GC with me and some of the BAB crew? :D
Old Bright Angel Trail - South Rim
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Lee was interested in doing an overnighter in the Canyon and I was down. I recently saw the Phantom Canyon trip report from Dave and Toddak and figured it would make a perfect overnight option for us. I picked up the permits before my Tanner Trip a couple of weeks ago. We worked out the details and were on our way.

We left Phoenix on Saturday morning around 5:50am and drove up to the Canyon. We left a vehicle near the BA Trailhead and took a taxi ($12 plus tip) over to SK. We started down around 10am and cruised down taking very short breaks mostly to take pics and soak in the views. We arrived at Phantom Ranch and took a break where we hydrated and ate some food. From there we grinded up the Utah Flats Route starting around 1:40pm. It was hot! This was my first time on the route and it went really well. There is a full blown trail going up all the way to the top of Piano Alley. The trail disappears for a minute once things level off but we picked it back up again shortly afterward and followed that all the way down into Phantom Canyon.

We arrived in Phantom Canyon around 4:15pm to find the area deserted. The camp we used is right at the bottom of the trail. We settled in and got camp set up. Lee was using a tent and I was using my bivy. Afterward we took a quick walk over to the rope drop. It’s right around the corner from our camp. It looked fine and I looked forward to going down the next morning. From there we hiked about a mile up Upper Phantom Canyon. This is a really beautiful area and is very lush. I’d like to return another time with more time to explore the area. I really want to see Haunted Canyon and other areas. We returned to camp and filtered water with my sawyer mini and then had dinner. We both turned in fairly early. The long hike & heat really took a toll on us.

Sunday morning came and we both woke fairly early…6:30ish. We took our time in camp and got all of our gear situated. We had three dry bags. One large bag we borrowed from Chumley (Thanks Chums!) and two smaller bags. Lee took the large bag and I took the two smaller bags. We divided up our gear and then got packed. From there we walked over to the rope and got ourselves situated. Lee went down first while I took pics. After he was down I lowered our packs one at a time and included both of our cameras. Lee took pics as I descended. Going down the rope was very straightforward and a good rush!

Once in the creek bottom we started heading down canyon. We were greeted by two very short swims immediately after the rope drop in. The water was very chilly when we first jumped in. It was roughly 8am and it woke me up immediately! After that the canyon opens up and we proceeded down the creek. Most of the going is very easy. There were a few more swims as we descended. They were very short averaging 10-20 ft across. Nothing is overwhelming and we were having the time of our lives. About half way down canyon we noticed fresh footprints and then saw wet rock. A few minutes later we caught up to a group of three. They dropped in about halfway off some sketchy route that started from the “Antler Room”. I’ll have to see if I can find any info on this route. We chatted with them for a bit and then continued down canyon. There were a few more short swims along the way. Some can be bypassed and others are mandatory. I would guess we did six mandatory swims. They were all very short and easy. As we neared the end we ran into another group who were making a day hike up from Phantom Ranch. Finally near the end we ran into ranger Christie from the BCO. We recognized each other from my numerous trips to the BCO. It was cool seeing someone I knew down here. A few short minutes after that we walked out on the North Kaibab trail. Hell of a morning!

After we were back on official trail we cruised on down to Phantom Ranch and took a long break at the Canteena. We unpacked all of our gear and got it resituated. I was surprised how dry the contents of our packs were. I guess the short swims didn’t give the water enough time to really soak in. The dry bags really helped as well. After our long break, we started the hike up BA. Along the way we took a detour up Old BA where I showed Lee the ruins. We then cut over to the ruins below Plateau Point. From there it was the grind up BA. We were back on the rim around 4:20 and then over to the BCO. After that we made the ride back to Phoenix but made a quick stop at NiMarco’s in Flag for pizza and the golden bbq wings. Damn those wings are yum!

This was another solid trip into the Canyon! I loved Phantom Canyon and would definitely “hike” the route again. Thanks Lee for driving and good times backpacking with you!
Old Bright Angel Trail - South Rim
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Day off!! Set off after a rude awakening by my roommates and bikes falling all over the house...

Not a soul on BA until 1.5 house, tons of peeps coming up from IG

Got rained and hailed on down by the river! The sun and clouds made the canyon colors seem even bolder than usual :D
Filled up my camelbak with lemonade thanks to the phantom crew :)

Three mule deer along Old BA, no people until IG again.

Perfect day to hike the canyon!!
Very chilly, windy on the rim.

So happy to be home!!!
Old Bright Angel Trail - South Rim
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I drove Hippy back to the Canyon on Sunday morning. I planned on dropping her off and then hitting a few hikes on my way back to Phx like Red Butte and Red Mountain. After we arrived in the park there was a nice blanket of snow. Well the Canyon started calling so I changed plans and headed in!

I parked at the BA Trailhead and was shocked to see the Canyon socked in with a heavy fog. I would guess visibility at roughly 300 feet. It was thick! I started down and the trail was wet and muddy. I was glad I was wearing my heavy duty hiking boots. I cruised down and as I hit the Coconino I started to see views into the inner canyon and they were jaw dropping! I continued on and was beneath the fog by the bottom of the Coconino and I cruised on down to Indian Garden. IG was maybe half full and the rest area was vacant. I was surprised the water was turned off. There was a trail crew working on some trenches and it’s possible they had the water turned off for their work. I didn’t ask.

From IG I went east on the Tonto Trail and headed down Old Bright Angel. I wanted to get the entire GPS track all the way to the bottom of the Devils Corkscrew. I made quick work of the Old BA Trail and then decided to make the quick walk to the Colorado before making the hike out. I arrived to find the river a very heavy chocolate brown. Good luck filtering that slop! After a short break I started the hike out.

My return trip was very smooth. I followed the present day Bright Angel Trail all the way back to the rim. There were very few people on the trail and the weather was pleasant for late November. I took a break near three mile rest house and then hiked the rest of the way out. This was a nice afternoon in the Canyon! It never gets old!
Old Bright Angel Trail - South Rim
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Woke up bright and early in the employee bunkhouse loft down at Phantom Ranch, not a soul in sight, 9am! I had to rush fill up my 3 liter camelback with my favorite drink of choice Phantom Ranch's "world famous Lemmy lemonade!" I estimated it would cost $8 so I left that amount with them in the tip jar, they're cool cats down there!

I rolled out of Phantom this morning at 10am and made it to the Plateau Point ruins at 10:55, I waited to see if Quadman would show up for about 40 minutes, no sign of him so I darted up to IG then out along the Tonto to the start of the Old BA, I headed down to the last of the top switchbacks and saw no sign of him so I headed back to IG. I thought I'd give him some more time to catch up so I headed out to Plateau Point, had some lunch and my last beer :D

No sign of Quadman so I headed up BA in hopes of hitting the rim before 2pm, I ran into 2 tourists that I recognized from Bright Angel Campground so we hiked out the last 3 miles together made it out by 2:30 and hit up the bar for my traditional Post-hike Margarita! Yummm!
Old Bright Angel Trail - South Rim
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Friday night I was in Scottsdale flipping through the TV channels when I caught a quick sentence about reopening the GC after this ridiculous Government Shutdown...Naturally we waited half an hour to hear a 4 second blurb "Grand Canyon National Park will be reopening tomorrow morning at 8am and now in other news..."

:o :D :y:

I rushed out to spend my last evening with my daughter and my best friend Jen (who's Dad is being moved to hospice right now :( ) Tomorrow I'd be on my way to the Canyon, back home!! WHOO!!

at 1:15pm, 9L and I drove through the entry station, we stopped at my work for food and Gatorade then made a quick detour to my condo where I geared up, we were at BA Trailhead at 1:45pm.
Ranger Rick spotted me the second I leapt out of the Jeep and says "You hiking" I just laughed and said "Course I am!". Good to see my friends right off the bat like that.
Also just before the very first switchback below Kolb Studio a big bold Condor flew right over our heads so close we could hear it's wing rustling! :o THAT WAS TOTALLY WICKED!!

9L and I made amazing time down to Indian Garden, I think if I had Niko with me he'd write it out like this:

Start: 1:45pm
1.5 mi house: 2pm
3mi house 2:30pm
BA/Tonto East Junct 2:59pm

Anyway, we spotted maybe a handful of people heading UP as we trotted down, Indian Garden campground was D-E-A-D DEAD!! Not a soul, one person by the restrooms as we passed on through toward Tonto East.
We spotted one person heading up from Plateau Point and not a soul along the Tonto, we bounced down the Old Bright Angel (South Rim Edition obviously) and I lead the way, demonstrating how the upper section of the trail crosses the NEW BA and continues down into the OLD Devil's Corkscrew, I've described that trek before but it never gets old...or as Uncle Chums would say it only gets older :D

Made it to Phantom in just under 3 hours but the Canteen had already closed! Luckily I waved at someone inside and after a good catch up chat good old Bob snuck us out two ice cold Phantom Ranch Specials...LEMONADE!!!! I pretty much hike down to Phantom JUST for the lemonade, really, it's that good.

Bob and 9L chatted about Bob's Phantom job and such, think 9L is going to jump the city ship and go live in the Canyon! Crazy kid...who DOES that!

At 5:30, we turned our toes back toward the river and headed up at break neck pace, we made a quick stop just East of the BA Creek bridge and checked out the old gravesite, I'd honestly never seen it before!! Very neat, Rees Griffith's story is in the Death in The GC book if you haven't read about it before.

We startled up to mule deer at one point, spotted a smallish size owl with HUGE orange eyes somewhere in the tapeats below IG, it's big shining eyes followed us for a while, I love the canyon night life. One person was camped at IG by the time we pranced through.
"Oh look, a person!"
"Hi person"

9L informed me just before we left Phantom that he'd never really hiked OUT of the Canyon at night before, so we spent a good chunk of time hiking by the semi-moon light, once at the tip top of Bright Angel I took him up to Mallory's Grotto and we left the trail "the back way", made it to the jeep at exactly 10:40pm and cranked the heat in that sucker like there was no tomorrow!!

This being my first "cold hike" of the season taught me a LOT, I need some sort of cold weather, moisture wicking sweater, any suggestions? I have a green fleece type thing that was drenched with sweat once I topped out Jacob's Ladder, I was sweating so bad and was so hot I had to shed my fleecey and my beanie. I had on a sweet moisture wicking tank top underneath so I wasn't drenched luckily, it was chilly and windy. By chilly I mean 60 at Indian Garden and 40 on the rim with a KILLER wind.

So begins my first winter living at the Grand Canyon, wish me luck!!! :D SO glad to be home and working again!

Map Drive
Connector trail - Not Applicable

To hike
The top of the trail begins along the Tonto Trail approximately 1/4 mile east of it's junction with the Bright Angel Trail.
page created by chumley on Oct 15 2013 11:31 pm
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