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This is likely a great time to hike this trail!  Check out "Prefered" months below, keep in mind this is an estimate.

Old Bright Angel Trail, AZ

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301 16 2
Guide 16 Triplogs  2 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Northwest > North Rim
Rated
4.3
4.3 of 5 by 12
 
5
Statistics
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Difficulty 4.5 of 5
Route Finding 4 of 5
Distance Round Trip 5.25 miles
Trailhead Elevation 8,495 feet
Elevation Gain -3,957 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 2-5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 25.04
Interest Historic, Seasonal Waterfall, Perennial Waterfall, Seasonal Creek & Perennial Creek
Backpack No
Dogs not allowed
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Will recalculate on button tap!
7  2019-08-31 ShatteredArm
25  2018-08-04 BiFrost
19  2017-12-30
Phantom Canyon - Upper
friendofThunderg
8  2017-07-29 Hippy
5  2015-06-06 toddak
38  2014-03-07
Old Bright Angel - Miner's Route Loop
writelots
31  2012-11-26
Bright Angel Trail
Dave1
23  2012-09-03 writelots
Page 1,  2
Author joebartels
author avatar Guides 213
Routes 824
Photos 10,825
Trips 4,256 map ( 21,429 miles )
Age 49 Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
Historical Weather
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Preferred   Jul, Jun, Aug, Sep → Early
Seasons   Spring to Autumn
Sun  6:12am - 6:33pm
Official Route
 
4 Alternative
 
Water
Flora Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
World Class Hike
by joebartels

Likely In-Season!
Overview
Originally posted as a loop, now the page data reflects one-way so you may create your own hike.


Loop Option
Ken Patrick Trail 3.65mi to Old BA and down 5.25mi, then back up North Kaibab 4.9mi. This is crossing over just before the heliport at the easiest point. It isn't much further to the bridge connecting the North Kaibab.
approx 12.75mi / 4045ft / 4800 AEG

Warning
This old route is not maintained. It may be extremely overgrown. Route finding may be tricky. Temps may vary from freezing to frying. Few hike this route.

History
Francois Emile Matthes created this route. He is most famous for surveying the area for the USGS in 1902. Upon completion of the North Kaibab Trail this route fell somewhat into disrepair.

Hike
From the North Kaibab Trailhead head out on the Ken Patrick Trail. This trail is maintained with a traildozer up until the Uncle Jim Trail. Then it turns into a single track continuing to 3.6mi where it meets the Old Bright Angel Trail. As of this writing it's signed and well maintained for the first mile or two. Others state it can get severely overgrown. With New Mexican Locust in the mix pants and a long sleeve shirt are recommended along with short sleeves and possibly shorts for the lower portions. Read the triplogs for the most current conditions.

The descent from the Ken Patrick Trail to Bright Angel Creek is about 3.5mi. The grade at 22% is actually slightly less arduous than the 23% hump back up the North Kaibab it's just not maintained here and feels steeper in sections. As mentioned the first ~2.0 miles are down through the woods. With an early morning start you'll be in the shade. You're trekking down the side of a ridge that makes up the northern tributary to Bright Angel Canyon. 2.0mi down or 5.6mi from the start you cross a seasonal creek. It was running well on my trip. The next ~1.5mi to BA Creek is beautiful desert. The views heading down the entire way are awesome. Keep an eye to your back if the seasonal creek was running there's a killer waterfall.

When you reach Bright Angel Creek you may have trouble finding the route after the creek. You may have to hump it up the southeast side to find the route. I didn't bother as the creek felt so inviting. This turned out to be a mistake. What felt good initially turned numbing for well over an hour and taxing with the current. I made two failed attempts to get out of the creek but couldn't find the trail. Then finally merged with the other side where it comes down close to the creek. This 0.7mi through the creek took almost two hours. It ranged from a foot to waist deep with a swift current. My Leki rippled like a rubber band from the force.

The southeast side trail isn't much of a trail but certainly ten times faster than the creek. It gets down to only inches wide on steep sections and occasionally washed out.

With the North Kaibab Trail in view you can cross in three worthy places. The first is just below the confluence with Roaring Springs and take the side trail up. The Old BA Trail actually does go past the heliport to the footbridge. I simply took an in between route where the Old BA and North Kaibab get close to the creek bottom. You only save a half mile or so.

On the North Kaibab it's almost 5 miles to the top and a relentless 3600 feet.

Overview
On my mid September hike, I started off at 34 degrees. It almost reached 90 degrees down by the heliport. I figured 6-7 hours. It took almost 9 hours as I missing the route out of Bright Angel Creek. Following the frigid creek really drained my energy. The upper reaches were phenomenal combined with the creeks and full loop. Up until now the Grand Canyon has been a yawner for myself. This was my eye opener. The section from Ken Patrick Trail down to Bright Angel Creek could only be defined as world class. The upper mile of the North Kaibab is as disgusting as hell but you take the good with the bad.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

Note
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.

2009-09-19 joebartels
  • 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 of 13 deeper Triplog Reviews
Old Bright Angel Trail
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I've always had a mild fascination with abandoned trails... So the Old Bright Angel route has been on my list for some time.

Started out at 8:30am the last day of August. Expected some heat down low, but I figured there would be water to cool off in... The 3.7ish miles on Ken Patrick is just a nice easy jaunt on the rim, with a few little grunts, but mostly joggable. I was honestly a little surprised they list the Old B.A. trail on the sign at the TH.

When I hit Old BA, I didn't really know what to expect... But it got very overgrown very quickly. The tread was pretty easy to follow until about 200 yards down, where it takes a jog to the right that's nearly impossible to spot. That's really the only spot that's confusing until all the way down to the bottom of the Supai.

The stretch from the top of the rim down to the bottom of the drainage really just needs a good trim; the tread is in really good condition. I was even able to jog parts of it.

Once you hit the bottom of the drainage (which was bone dry this weekend), it becomes harder to follow on markings alone... But pretty easy if you realize you just stay in the drainage until you hit the redwall.

Once you begin the redwall descent, you start to encounter washouts... And this is where it started to heat up. After traversing around the end of the ridge, a flowing side creek was a welcome spot to cool off. Coming out of said creek is one of the spots I had trouble with - there are two or three dirt paths, all of which look like washouts, but one of which is the actual trail. I chose wrong, went a little too high, and had to scramble back down to the trail.

The trail then dropped down towards BA Creek, and came upon a small narrows. The trail goes up over a bench, but it's nearly impossible to figure out the correct way up. I again chose wrong, went too high, and had to scramble back. After crossing over the bench, I lost the trail and said "screw it, I'm just going down the the creek" - just before which I stumbled on the trail. In retrospect it might just be easier to bypass this section by wading through the creek.

At this point, Roaring Springs was probably within a mile, and the route became considerably easier to follow. After the creek crossing (where it may be possible to stay dry, but I figured my legs needed a rinse), the route is straightforward, but contains some of the most narrow, washed out tread on the whole trail.

Water was off at Manzanita, so I had to employ the filter. Took a side trip to Roaring Springs, then began the somewhat unremarkable power hike up North Kaibab.
Old Bright Angel Trail
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I headed to the Grand Canyon with @carriejane over the New Years weekend. The goals were: Hippie Camp in Upper Phantom, a recon of the Shiva exit route, a quick trip up Haunted Canyon and then Cheops Pyramid. The trip was also a test run on my surgically repaired shoulder, which is nearing its fourth month of recovery and long awaited end to its five pound limitation/restriction.

Day one included a late start and then an extra trip down the road to the trailhead to go back and grab some containers we had forgotten that would be needed to haul the water for our dry camp on day two. South Kaibab was a bit of a zoo, but the hiking was quick and the views were nice as usual. The Utah Flats Route was the rugged steep little climb we expected, but it went well. The stretch from the top to Phantom Canyon was a real treat, some great clouds and big views. The scramble down to Phantom was a little tedious, but that initial stretch of canyon makes it worthwhile. Initially, we had planned to hike into Hippie camp on the first night, but the attractiveness of the overhang camp and taking off the heavy packs won over.

On day two we day hiked up to Hippie camp and did a quick recon of the Shiva Exit Route, which I have to admit looks pretty intense, but I would still like to utilize it on a future ambitious trip. Although Hippie camp was a minor let down, the area intrigued both of us and we discussed a potential future return during snow melt. There was no time for Haunted Canyon with Cheops Pyramid still on the slate, so we returned to camp, packed up and made our way down stream. After a quick visit to the rope and falls that mark the upper and lower divide of Phantom, we filtered and stocked up on water for Cheops and our upcoming dry camp. Then it was the brisk climb back up U.F.R. and a quick stroll across the Tonto. We dropped the heavy packs and started off for Cheops at about 2:10 p.m. The off trail contour to the pyramid is a bit of a slog, but it seemed to go by quickly and before we knew it we were at the base of the “steps.” This part went a little smoother for me than the last time and we located the little climbs and the cairns marking them with relative ease. On the summit before 3:30 p.m. and after a ten minute break or so we were heading back down. The hike back to our packs was a little slow, but we were still able to retrieve our packs and make our way down trail to a nice campsite just before nightfall.

Day three consisted of slipping and sliding down Utah Flats into Phantom Ranch and then the River Trail to Bright Angel. We detoured off BA to do some of the Old Bright Angel and made the obligatory stop at the archeological site along the way. The last three miles of BA were a major slog for me, but Carrie was unfazed and left me in the dust a little.

Old Bright Angel Trail
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Day hike with 5 great Canyon hiker companions, Jamie Compos, Doug Nering, Erik Baldwin, Frank Feagans and Adrian Jantzi. (Somehow they all managed to keep up with me ;) :lol: )

Started on "the old road" that heads down the small drainage that leads to Kendrick Trail's Ice Box Meadow. This old road can be found at the junction of the Point Imperial and Cape Royal turnoffs. (Check a map)

We then followed Kendrick just about a mile to the Old BA Trailhead.

Lots or fresh lion sign and scat on Kendrick and multiple more signal below along OBA

The top 50ft of Old BA are Probably the most "difficult" part of the old trail.
There is however a switch back at the very top (on the rim) hidden by gambel oak...if you can find that hidden switchback you can easily follow it along a gentle slope for that "difficult 50ft".

We didn't so that...so we slipped and slid and hooted and hollered for 50ft until the next incredibly obvious section of trail.

From there on out it was smooth sailing all the way to Roaring Springs!
The sign says 7 miles... we're not sure it's that much but hey, that's what the sign says ;)
We were guessing maybe 5.5 miles at the most it was a long steep route but definitely not 7mi...or is it?!?

The Redwall rim has a sweet clear "stream" in it right now and we enjoyed cooling off in that by splashing like children from the edge..

The Redwall rim traverse was my favorite part, very very easy to follow (I'll post pics of that later) but absolutely gorgeous views, wonderful day and such great company!

Sneaking through the Muave was fun and led us to a "secret stream" I heard some folks call it Emmett Creek?
Any HAZzers ever heard of that?

Winding out along the east wall in Muave ls and BA Shalethe power lines came into view and the dull roar of roaring Springs was finally clear.

We leapt across Tapeats ledges to get to a large sunny flat of Tapeats for lunch break and water fun. We then headed to the pumphouse where Jamie presented the 12 beers he'd stashed in his pack early that morning.

It wasn't until the Redwall along North Kaibab Trail that we pulled out the 32oz Refuge IPA and celebrated the day properly!

From the pumphouse was saw deer at Roaring Springs and danced on the helipad and got nauseated by the chlorine gas from the filtration station we were near.
After beers we crawled up a slope (not the trail of course) and somehow managed to reach NK trail and up up we went.

Ended the day with pizza and beer and wine at the North Rim Employee Pub.
Old Bright Angel Trail
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Old Bright Angel - Miner's Route Loop
On our "free day" on the GCHBA Volunteer Project, I originally wanted to climb to the Battleship. However, when I started to query my fellow adventurers on theirplans, it seemed that I'd be alone on that one, and I wasn't sure scrambling off route in the GC solo was the level of adventure I was up to. Instead I wormed my way into the group doing the Old BA - Miner's Route Loop, and since I'd never done that one before - I knew it'd be a good time.

It is a great hike. Both routes are reasonably easy to follow for seasoned canyon route-finders. Just look for the spot where you think a route should go, and more than likely you'll be right. For the top of the Old BA, it's super easy - it's a well engineered trail that provides views of ancient granaries and the historic phone line. Below the Tonto Trail was a new piece for me, and it shows less of the solid engineering and more of that "follow gravity" mentality to get you down to Pipe Creek. As an alternative to the Devil's Corkscrew, it's definitely more direct - but I'll probably stick to the new BA when I'm bearing a pack.

I was wearing a pair of nice Ex-Officio pants that I'd found at a thrift store in Tucson. Turns out these pants were actually pretty old and/or worn out, because the first test on a bit of sliding and they split nearly the whole seat out. So, I spent a few lovely minutes sitting by the side of the trail, pants around my knees, duct taping them back together. Thank goodness I'm not as shy as I once was!

At Pipe Creek, we rejoined the new trail, and we ran into Callie with the NPS trail crew at the toilets just above the river. Her job involves hiking from Indian Gardens to the lower toilets on the BA and South Kaibab trails for maintenance and cleaning - so she's in super amazing shape. We invited her to join our hike, and she was genuinely excited at the idea. She had some chores to finish up first, but she thought she'd try to connect with us at Phantom Ranch.

We hiked over the Silver Bridge into Bright Angel Canyon to say hello to some folks and get our Lemmy fix (what are the odds that I was hiking with 4 guys and they ALL passed on the Tecate?). We ran in Sjors in the campground - he usually runs our volunteer projects when we're in the BA campground. He told us to watch out for the condors that have been nesting in the area - including a fledgling which hasn't been numbered yet. His observations of the birds below the rim are always amazing, even more so considering that he does it while also working harder than most paid employees (he's a volunteer himself). My hike time excludes the hour we spent relaxing by the beautiful Bright Angel Creek. Callie caught up, and after a few chores in the BA campground, she was ready to do the up trail with us - one she'd never done before, so she was particularly excited.

Crossing back over the muddy waters of the Rio Colorado, we caught the Miner's Route just past the Silver Bridge and started up. Straight up. At times, it felt like the route should feel scary-impossible, but the footing was always stable. Not that I'd be eager to follow it down or anything - but it's not as bad as it looks from the bottom.

The route provides several small saddles, where we took quick breaks and enjoyed views of the Granite Gorge. I was glad to have Callie along, because though she was in amazing shape, she was also happy to hang in the back with me and chat. She would be fun to hike with even in the worst of circumstances, but it was great to hear some of her own canyon stories. It was also nice to have a girl along so I had someone I trusted to take a photo of the duct tape patch on my pants ;)

From the top of the shist there's a short contour around (that's still pretty steep), then a fun little "ramp" through the Tapeats. None of it has any real exposure - which was perfect for me - but there are still good views. Once we popped up onto the Tonto and passed the Miner's Monument it was smooth sailing. There's no real route back to the trail from there, but it's easy enough to head up the plateau knowing that at some point you'll cross that well-worn track.

An additional benefit of the trek was that it completed yet another portion of the Tonto Trail for me. I've done every piece except the Gems and the bit between S.Kaibab and Bright Angel. Now, I've done the latter as well, except for about .25 miles which I can easily pick up next time I head down.

Once back on trail, we cooked along - with a short stop to talk with other hikers near Burro Spring. I loved the Pipe Creek Amphitheater - very classic Tonto Trail views - and the massive pouroff at the top of the Tapeats from the western finger of the creek.

When we got back to Indian Gardens, Callie stopped at the toilets, dropped her pack and got back out her rubber gloves to finish her work day. She said she knew that hiking with us would mean she'd be working late, but she was glad for the diversion. I had to give her kudos - just doing the hike was a good day's work, and now she was going to clean composting toilets for a few hours on top of that! What a girl!

Back at the bunkhouse it was quinoa and hamburger gravy for dinner with salad and pudding for desert. Slept in my tent to the gentle whirr of the toilets and a fairly noisy campground - but it was still sweet!
Old Bright Angel Trail
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Started from the top of the North Kaibab trail at about 12:30p. The NK is in awesome shape right now! No mules for over a week and the recent snow had melted leaving the trail moist enough to not be dusty but not too wet to be muddy. Perfect!

Picked up the Old Bright Angel Route (called "route" on the Nat Geo map) just next to the bridge south of the pumphouse caretaker's residence. Drinking water at the house was still on and should be on year-round. Found the OBA relatively easy to follow. Didn't absolutely need the GPS track but was nice to have anyway. Only a few trouble spots: 1.The only crossing of Bright Angel Creek. The crossing is well-cairned but the trail on the other side wasn't visible because of the reeds/joint grass. Also there's a false trail that continues beyond the crossing. I figured it out and only got one shoe wet. 2.Next was where the trail goes right up the middle of a dry side drainage into BA Creek (at about 6280'. This is the second side drainage you have to cross, the first had a little flow and the crossing is obvious). The trail is cairned but over-grown. Up to this point the trail is well worn so heading into this overgrown spot didn't feel right. It worked out though so I guess I just need to stay open minded. 3. The last few switchbacks near the top are very overgrown and covered with deadfall. The GPS came in handy here. Took the Ken Patrick trail back NK trailhead.

I have to agree with Joe as this is definitely a top 10 hike, especially with the foliage.

(I wonder if the OBA on the north rim should have a separate description as the south rim trail as they're not really connected?)

The North Rim entrance station was boarded up when we arrived Sunday morning. So free entry except for Arizona taxpayers. The cabins and lodge restaurant were open but will be closed for the season by today. The North Rim will remain open for day use (although I think you can still get a walk up site at the campground) until the snow becomes too much to plow. Or if the shutdown continues and AZ/Tusayan funding ends.
Old Bright Angel Trail
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Down Bright Angel to Plateau Point. Using info from Wayne Tomasi's book, I cut across the Tonto platform to Lone Pine Canyon (after first going down the wrong canyon and getting cliffed out) and down (maybe a few hundred yards) until the bottom of the Tapeats layer. Followed the Tapeats heading east, under Plateau Point and eventually meeting the BA trail again. Saw some ruins right before I hit BA. Also spotted a condor under PP. Lots of paw prints along the Tapeats route, small, maybe a bobcat?

Went down BA past the grotto and down the next long switchback. From there I picked up a section of the Old Bright Angel Trail and followed that up to the Tonto Trail. This section is shown on the Trails Illustrated maps but isn't always easy to follow. Disappears and re-appears several times but stays close to the creekbed. After a while I decided to climb up to the Tapeats layer where I found another trail and more ruins.

Followed the Tonto east to just shy of the South Kaibab Trail where I used sgtoddball's GPS track to get up on top of the Redwall, skipping the Kaibab switchbacks. I have to say from the bottom looking up, the route didn't look doable and looked like it was going to get scary near the top. However, once I got closer to the redwall everything worked out great. Only saw one person on the Kaibab Trail and a raven carrying a Chinese food box with his beak!

Perfect weather! The sun stays low this time of year and the south rim provided shade for most of the day. Drank 1.5 out of 5 liters
Old Bright Angel Trail
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So I'm getting ready for the trip to the North Rim and I'm looking for a decently hard hike that isn't on the North Kaibab trail. Not that NK isn't a perfectly decent trail, but all my time on backcountry routes of late has left me with a bit of distaste for the corridor routes. The North Rim doesn't have nearly the plethora of options that you get on the south, and many of the trails are only accessed by longish drives on dirt roads (which also wasn't appealing as Angela promised Tonto we'd keep him clean).

So this one pops up. Looks like fun. Clyde says he was hoping to check it out, too. Angela is keen at first, but reads herself into a corner and starts worrying about the elevation gain coming back. I mean, come on, it's the GRAND CANYON ;)

Finally, not wanting to hike on a little-traveled route alone and not having anyone else I trusted interested in the whole trail, I decided to let discretion be the better part of valor and I agreed to hike only to the top of the Redwall where the descriptions said we'd find a pouroff and good views.

Clyde knows me too well and warned me ahead of time that he wasn't going to be talked into 'just getting to the bottom of the Redwall'. Sigh.

We started out on an old road route that knocked a mile or two off the Ken Patrick part of the hike. Not only was this short cut convenient, but it was actually quite pretty. Walking along the old road alignment offered some interesting insights into how the vegetation has begun (or not begun) to reclaim the roadbed after 30 some years of it's disuse.

We made the Ken Patrick pretty quickly, and since we picked it up at a point beyond what we'd seen a couple days before, it made for interesting walking as well. Although we still could not see the canyon, the forest was pretty and the burned areas gave us plenty to look at with a great wildflower display.

Once we made it to the Old Bright Angel sign, we regrouped and Clyde put me out front. At first I was thrilled - I love route finding, and being in back I generally only get to route follow. However, it quickly became obvious that point was a good bit of work as I pushed through the thick oak growth and hacked through the tall weeds. Chris was right on my tail, which was nice because we got to talk and share adventure stories - but if stopped too short I got a bump :) Kept me going pretty quick.

I only lost the trail at one point, and we were only off for about 20 yards before I realized it and we backtracked to the right route. Otherwise I found the old track pretty easy to follow in general compared to other 'offtrail' routes I've followed in the area. The description was correct when it said that the area does not suffer from erosion as much as other trails, and with the dryness of the slope there wasn't the dense vegetation growth that might cover it. An experienced hiker should have no trouble following the top portion of the trail.

We made it to the pouroff at the top of the Redwall right on schedule and stopped for our lunch. Angela had put some awesome sandwiches together, and we feasted heartily. Good thing, too, because the way out was ALL UP! If pushing through the oak shrubbery was hard on the down hill, it was murder on the up. It almost felt as though the trail was rejecting our against-the-grain ascent.

I let the faster hikers go on ahead and Lori, Angela, Clyde and I hiked as a team. Although it felt a little slow, looking at the stats it didn't seem so bad. Angela was still in pretty good spirits when we reached 'the sign', which had been her motivational goal for the first couple of miles of the climb out. Once she got there, she took off like a rocket! I had to rein her in or risk getting myself left in the dust!

Just a little note: we didn't see signs of a single other human being the whole time we were on the Old BA. That right there makes it worth every bit of the trouble! The amazing views (better than you get on the NK) were a bonus!

I was pretty sure that we'd found our trail out at one point, and since it wasn't marked I convinced Clyde that it was right as well. We called back the rest of the group (who were just a little ahead) and we started through the forest on what we thought was the same old road we'd come in on. Instead, it was a different old road. Who'd have thunk that there'd be two nearly identical old roadbeds just waiting to fool unsuspecting hikers tired from the climb out? The nerve!

We were much too far in by the time we realized we were on the wrong route, turning back wasn't really an option. Daylight was fading and we were hungry and low on water (I was out of water - but more on that in a minute). Clyde was navigating using his new IPone app, and while I think it was pretty good, it didn't replace a GPS with our old track on it. Eugene had the track on his GPS, but wasn't really comfortable leading the group or relinquishing his unit. My GPS had run out of battery and died a ways back.

As we're wandering up and down these big forested hills, trying to follow the 'veer left, veer right' directions we were getting from Clyde (who was walking while watching his phone), I started to get that hint of anxiety that I get when I feel lost. When we stopped for the fourth or fifth time to get our bearings, I grabbed Angela's GPS, Scout, (with her blessing of course) and said "This way..." as I began to hike towards the cars. It's amazing how well people will follow you if you act like you know exactly what you're doing.

We followed a small gully to the main meadow we'd parked on, and in no time we were back at the cars where we had more water and relief for our tired feet. Angela was so glad to see the meadow that she re-named it Scout's Meadow - and I think it should stick.

So, I drank almost 4 liters of water on this 10 mile hike. True, it was warm, but hardly hot - uphill but not extreme - and tough but not ridiculous. I think I drink too much water, but I don't know how to reduce. I only drink when I feel thirsty, and I try to concentrate on taking small sips when I do. Needing 4 liters a day minimum is inconvenient when hiking multiple days under dry conditions, so it may be time for me to seek real help with this problem that most folks won't think is a problem...

Sigh. The hardships of backpacking ;)
Old Bright Angel Trail
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I get an email from Wendy: I want to try this (and she attaches the link to this trail). My initial reaction is, if you're willing to take me, I'm willing to go. Well after reading the trip reports on HAZ and elsewhere that answer changed to "Are you crazy?!" :wrt: :o . Two things made me leary: route finding and 3600 feet up at the end. I told her as much as I would love to I just couldn't do that. Nonetheless I printed out all the reports I could find (hoping I could dissuade her) and gave them to her when we got up to the N Rim for our 4 day camping/hiking trip with ABC.

I don't know when she changed her mind but she said, "How 'bout...." "we just hike 2 miles in to the first waterfall and back "making it a 10 mile or so hike". Well now THAT sounded much more reasonable though still difficult after not hiking for a few weeks. Clyde knew Wendy was interested in the hike so had scouted out a way to cut off 2 miles from the hike :) .

Monday morning, I made 3 sandwiches for Clyde, Wendy and me along with handing out huckleberry taffy. We rounded up some more folks to join us and drove on the Cape Royal road to a pull out by one of the signs. Clyde had found the old Bright Angel Road that would take us to the Ken Patrick and to the junction with the Old Bright Angel/Point Imperial Trails.

We made our way up the meadow and into the forest. It was a tad humid but not hot and since this was a new adventure, we were all excited and made good time. Chris ran point while Clyde swept keeping us inline per his GPS application. The road would fade out from time to time so this was necessary to make sure we would hook up with the Ken Patrick Trail. It was very cool to walk right into the trail. You hang a left and then go up a hill. Almost everyone remarked how we would look forward to going down this at the end.

We gradually made our way to the top of the Rim and across it through a burn area that was littered with pretty yellow flowers and other colorful flora from time to time :budrose: . We walked through a couple groves of very young aspen and a couple miles later, we arrived at the Junction. We all knew the next couple miles would be steep and hard as the trail was notorious for overgrowth. Clyde put Wendy at point :gun: to slow Chris down which was no easy task.

The overgrowth is pretty thick so at one area Wendy yelled back to make sure she was on track but honestly, at this point, there seemed very little choice. We started our way through the layers of rock and through the overgrowth. The coolest part was the Coconino Limestone :D layer but that was also the slipperiest section. Of course, I'm trying to take as much video as possible which isn't easy with these trail conditions.

We plowed through more overgrowth including small aspen and locust and such. At times I would turn around and Clyde was totally engulfed by the overgrowth. I got a little of it on film. We took a break not quite 1/2 way down. I think it was a little past here where Wendy realized she might be off trail. Per Clyde's GPS track she was off ;) , track that is. We could make out what looked like a trail just above us. The trail looks like it could go down here but it continues level.

I think it was after this section that we hit that cool red rock area that leveled out to slightly down hill for a short time. It was a really neat area and I enjoyed the lack of steepness for a short period of time. After this short break, it was more switchbacks through the next layer. Once again we had to get through the overgrowth which got particularly difficult the closer we got to the creek/waterfall area.

We almost slid down through some maples :) to the dry creek bed and then we meandered thru here to where it opens up to a nice view to the south of the canyon wall across the way. And of course, there's nothing more fun than hanging out at a dry waterfall :DANCE: . Would have been way cooler with water but it was still fun. We went west along the trail to a wall overlooking the waterfall for our well-earned lunch. We sat in the shade and rested for quite a bit before our long grueling hike out.

I hoped for some cloud cover and a breeze for our climb and I'd say for 80% of the time we got that. (I had this similar wish granted when we came out at Keet Seel). Lorie took the lead. I wasn't sure how that would go as I've never hiked with her until today but since she was a SAR girl, I had great confidence. She set an easy enough pace and let us catch our breath in the steeper parts. Two of the guys took off ahead; I doubted we would see them until the junction but lo and behold, we found them as we rounded up from a switchback. We had a snack here before continuing our tredge up the hill : rambo : .

Once again, I enjoyed going thru the wash-like section with the red rock even if it was on the uphill slant this time. I liked climbing through the layers as it provided short term goals. Wendy has an even cheerier outlook cuz instead of being only 1/2 way there, we're already 1/2 way done :A1: . She did that to me a couple times. I just kept saying in my head, it's only 2 1/2 miles total, this is nothing. Well that didn't quite work but it helped.

Needless to say, once we got to the junction I threw myself on the ground, something I don't recall doing in the past. I actually think I did pretty good for me and I was patting myself on the back by telling everyone so :lol: . I'm not sure how long the guys had waited but they and Lorie and Clyde wanted to take off without us. I asked them to wait 5 minutes but hurried to get myself back together and be on our way.

I must have really been feeling my oats as I was hiking so fast :sl: Wendy asked me to wait up. When she joined me, she was even a bit winded. I'm sure THAT will probably never happen again but I felt good :y: . So I slowed down a little, she eventually went ahead and I stayed back with Clyde. The light was really pretty on the Rim top and the temperature pleasant. Then we hit the hill and it was SUPPOSEDLY all down hill from there.

When it came time to turn off the main trail at the bottom of the hill, we weren't really quite sure where that was EXACTLY. We think we've found it and I think we did based on the route I posted. However, though it seemed we were on the old road, we weren't and we veered way too far east and ended up in a completely different canyon. We eventually realize we are off track but little did we know how much. And guess what? Of course we would have to climb up that hill :sweat: and hope that veering to the west we would be able to get back down to the meadow where we started.

After some serious discussion between some of the folks :-({|= , I handed Scout to Wendy and said I felt Scout could get us back :M2C: . I didn't want to add another GPS to the 3 that were already being used earlier :STP:. I also thot, we would get on track sooner than we did. Wendy took the lead and Chris more or less hiked ahead shortly after I fell :oops: going over a log. Well by this time, most of us are also out of water but lucky for us, we saw the meadow and 10 minutes later, we were back at the cars. Essentially we added a mile to our hike.

Bright Angel Canyon has a lot to offer and I wouldn't mind taking a stab at finishing the trek all the way to Roaring Springs but then I would rather continue down to Cottonwood Camp, hang out for the nite before completing the trip.

Here is the link to the videos Oh, may I suggest you change the quality on youtube to HD1080. You can find that setting next to the minutes just below the video screen (or next to the clock icon)

Part 1 - http://youtu.be/Ji4GOnOutR8
Part 2 - http://youtu.be/eipl0snYIY8
Old Bright Angel Trail
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A group of us stayed at Jacob's Lake lodge on Saturday night.

We started the hike at 6AM on Sunday. There's a new bathroom at the artist's house by the Bright Angel creek.
I went up the old Bright Angel Creek trail for about a half hour and came back. I caught up with the group at the Phantom Ranch. One of the guys had a great idea. Mike bought a bag of ice and we filled up our CamelBacks with it. It was wonderful having ice water on the climb up!
I took the black bridge to the River trail to Bright Angel. We regrouped at Indian Gardens. I hiked to the Plateau point and on the back went down the western Tonto trail. I really like the Tonto trail. The views are spectacular.

I came out the canyon at 5PM.
Old Bright Angel Trail
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I really like to go to the Grand Canyon this time of year and I successfully played the "find a cancellation sweepstakes" by getting a Frontier Cabin on the N. Rim for Sept 30 and a Phantom Ranch dorm spot for Oct 1. With these in hand my plan was to make the 2 day rim-to-rim more interesting by trying out the Old Bright Angel Trail which was recently documented by Joe and AZdesertfather. I knew this might be a stretch for me but with the GPS track loaded, how could I go wrong?

I got a 5:20AM start from the N.Kaibab Trailhead and I was glad to leave the crowd already gathered there. The GPS track led me in the right direction and the trail through the forest was wide. I came to an unmarked fork (straight or right), checked the GPS and saw the "correct route" (i.e. the Ken Patrick Trail) was 0.2 miles to my left. I continued straight and eventually hit the rim as it was getting light...I had apparently stayed on the Uncle Jim Trail, missing a turnoff in the dark. No real problem I just angled through the fairly open forest until I crossed Ken Patrick which is fairly faint. I hit the OBA sign, signaling time to descend, in one hour 50min, 4.7 circuitous miles.

The upper part of the OBA was a lot of fun as I wended through the forest. Having the GPS track was very handy for deciding which of two equally compelling (or confusing) directions I should take. As reported there is quite a bit of deadfall to contend with and one notable difference vs. the corridor trails is that there is negligible terracing, so my feet pounded the rocks and gravel pretty hard. If you normally lose X toenails on a GC trip expect to lose 2X.

Eventually I crossed a (dry) stream with the first significant cairnage. Perhaps this is where the first waterfall is? If so I missed it or it was dry. Eventually I hit a nice running stream...I think the 2nd waterfall is just downstream but I didn't notice it at the time...only when I looked over from further down the trail. The tip from AZdesertfather's log is useful in finding the trail as it crosses the stream, climbs the hill and heads left.

Continuing along I descended the canyon sidewall and hit the crux of the whole trip: what to do at Bright Angel Creek? It's well documented by the others that this is a riddle but even with their various descriptions AND the GPS track I was soon in trouble. The creek is fast moving and not easy to cross (particularly without poles or water shoes), but looking around after a while I found a place to cross. About this time I noticed even the GPS info didn't make sense. Joe's track look like it stayed west of the creek but I could see it was pinched by a cliff. My GPS was losing signal and giving a larger error circle. After scrambing up and down the steep east side a couple times I realized I didn't even know which side of the creek I should find the "very faint trail". Finally I saw the trail on the other side (west!) and headed over. But even when I got to that area I was getting more GPS confusion: first reading said I was above the previous track, but after descending, the next reading said I had really been below. I'm thinking my venerable Garmin 60C wasn't up to the task in the deep canyon. My only advice for the next guy is that not too far downstream from where you first hit the creek the desired trail is on the west (right) side and maybe 100' above the creek. I don't know if you get there via 0, 2, or 2n crossings.

All of this took me at least 90min with much clawing through the manzanita and steep scree - and I ran out of water just as I finally found the trail. I hadn't had anything to eat and I hadn't done much hiking all summer....and I just sort of crashed...I became Molasses Man.

From this point the trail is tricky and narrow but I was glad to finally be on my way out. After a while it descends to a final crossing...this one is fairly obvious, even the plants are beaten down. Of course one of those pretty Grand Canyon Pink rattlesnakes was lounging directly on the path about 3' from the creek. He moved aside, I sat on a rock in the middle, treated some water, and had some lucozade. I soon perked up and improved into "Runny Maple Syrup Man". The trail continues fairly high on the east side and is narrow and loose. I eventually passed high above the confluence with Roaring Springs and the pump house and continued along to the trail's end in dry Manzanita Creek and its intersection with the N.Kaibab Trail.

It took me 8:20....about 3 hours longer than those uber-hikers...sheesh. I'm physically beat and only ~9 miles to go to PR. I arrive in time for the late dinner...exactly 12hours after I began. My explanation to the other diners was that I had been wrestling with a mountain lion. Between my sore feet and my physical exertion hangover my trip up the Bright Angel the next morning is best forgotten. And oh yeah, I had a non-fixable flat tire in GC Village and drove back to Phoenix on a donut. 60mph on cruise control is actually therapeutic - people go by very fast - but you get great gas mileage. Today I couldn't really walk. Heckuva trip.


Directions
Map Drive
or
Road
Paved - Car Okay

To North Kaibab Trailhead
The North Kaibab trailhead is located 41 miles south of Jacob Lake on Highway 67 (1.5 miles north of Grand Canyon Lodge). A small parking area offers limited parking. Transportation is available from the Grand Canyon Lodge (twice each morning; check at the lodge for times and fares) or, for those staying at North Rim Campground, it is a half-mile walk to the trailhead. Hikers on a rim-to-rim hike and who have only one vehicle often use the private Trans-Canyon Shuttle (928-638-2820), which provides service between the North Rim (departs around 6 a.m.) and the South Rim (departs around 1 p.m.) daily from May 15 to October 15. North Rim park facilities (lodge, store, gas station) close on October 15, but Highway 67 remains open to vehicle traffic until winter conditions preclude access. Visitors should be prepared for road closure anytime after October 15, but often Highway 67 remains open into November. Once closed Highway 67 remains so until May 15. It is not possible to reach the trailhead by vehicle before May 15.

Bright Angel Point Trailhead: This trailhead is somewhere around the Grand Canyon Lodge. Trail takes off southward. HAZ needs more information on the exact location. Looks like the a spur trail goes around the cabins to the parking lot too.

Transept Trailhead: North Rim Campground near the General Store

From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 354 mi - about 6 hours 25 mins
From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 459 mi - about 7 hours 55 mins
From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 208 mi - about 4 hours 18 mins
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