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Deer Creek/Thunder River loop

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rally_toad
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Deer Creek/Thunder River loop

Post by rally_toad » Apr 01 2018 12:48 pm

Hi all,

Seems a fair amount of you have done the loop portion of the hike. How is the route along the River from Thunder River to Deer Creek? Is the route easy to find? Is there a lot of exposure in these three miles?
Thanks
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Re: Deer Creek/Thunder River loop

Post by toddak » Apr 01 2018 4:28 pm

Did it in June 2013. The route was easy to follow, I don't recall any issues with exposure (other than sun and heat).

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Re: Deer Creek/Thunder River loop

Post by chumley » Apr 01 2018 9:37 pm

@rally_toad
I wrote up a description for specifically that section of the loop. It's fairly straightforward, and the posted gps track should help you out.
[ Deer Creek to Tapeats Creek Trail ]

I believe there is a lower route on the Deer Creek side that hugs the cliffs above the river. I'd like to explore that route next time I'm there. You can see it on satellite for some stretches. That lower/cliffside route is not described above.
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Re: Deer Creek/Thunder River loop

Post by arizona_water » Apr 02 2018 12:05 am

@rally_toad
I did this loop in April, 2015. It had a few down-climbs that were sketchy with a full-loaded pack, so I must be less-agile than Chumley :lol: . But in general, the route was difficult to follow for the first 2 miles after you leave the Tapeats Creak/Colorado confluence, headed west towards Deer Creek. Looks like the route Chumley posted is great, though.
Last edited by arizona_water on Apr 02 2018 12:09 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Deer Creek/Thunder River loop

Post by arizona_water » Apr 02 2018 12:12 am

@chumley
I want to know more about that lower route to Deer Creek too. It looks like the route would just dead-end at the falls. From my memory, it would be quite difficult to actually connect back with the Deer Creek trail.
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Re: Deer Creek/Thunder River loop

Post by chumley » Apr 02 2018 12:16 am

@arizona_water
The lower route doesn't get that far west. The posted description and GPS track indicate the two junctions where the lower route connects to the upper route.
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Re: Deer Creek/Thunder River loop

Post by arizona_water » Apr 02 2018 12:33 am

@chumley
I see what you mean. I think the lower route would be much more sketchy than the high, based on my experience. I remember attempting to push westward on the lower route and than finding the cairns above us. The cairned route (the higher route) was much easier to follow.
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Re: Deer Creek/Thunder River loop

Post by rcorfman » Apr 02 2018 5:10 pm

I've done it twice.

The first time was November 2014. First day we camped at Upper Tapeats. We took the west side trail along Tapeats Creek to the river. It goes up and down more than the east side, but you don't need to cross Tapeats Creek which can be deadly depending on the flow. My problem that trip was that we missed the turn that drops down to the Tapeats Creek / Colorado confluence. We stayed high until we ran out of trail above Bonita Creek. It took us an hour and a half to figure out where to go; we finally spotted cairns below where we were along Bonita Creek. So if you get to the Colorado and are still high, back track to a steep rocky drop down to Tapeats. The trail is visible and cairned, we just missed it.

The second time was October 2016. That time we camped at Deer Creek and then went to Tapeats Creek, so we went the opposite direction. It seemed more exposed than the first time. I think because the steep parts were downhill instead of up and my daughter was along and freaking out a bit. Beforehand, I didn't remember it being an issue. It wouldn't have been for me either except I was a nervous dad at that point. There was one fairly steep up climb that I missed on the first trip but no biggy going up. Going down would be more of a pain, I'm sure.

Both times, I never had an issue figuring out where to go once on the route along the Colorado.
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Re: Deer Creek/Thunder River loop

Post by rally_toad » Apr 02 2018 10:13 pm

Thanks for the response. The linked route is helpful, as I simply assumed the route followed the River the entire way from Tapeats to Deer Creek without bypassing the narrows and falls.

I have permits for May. Looking forward to this one, have been to Deer Creek but never explored Tapeats/Thunder River yet.
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Re: Deer Creek/Thunder River loop

Post by hikeaz » Apr 03 2018 9:08 am

You may consider the easy trip over to Stone Creek, pretty area and seldom visited by backpackers. The views from the trail are stunning as well.
DSC_0262.jpg
It gets toasty along the Tapeats - D.C. route; if possible the earlier in the day the better.
Last edited by joebartels on Apr 03 2018 11:15 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Deer Creek/Thunder River loop

Post by rally_toad » Apr 03 2018 1:25 pm

@hikeaz
Does the route to Stone Creek start at the Tapeats/C.R. junction? That one wasn't on my radar but looks nice.
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Re: Deer Creek/Thunder River loop

Post by hikeaz » Apr 03 2018 2:41 pm

The route stays up higher on creek-left traversing ......likely about 1/2 hour above the Grand. In other words, the standard Tapeats route (lower) will run on the west side of the 'narrows' section of the creek in the lower section, whereas this route runs generally parallel but on the east (creek left). Within Tapeats Canyon it is a bitchin little trail, skinny and looks tricky from below, but on the trail it is smooth sailing with great views. AR (can we say that?) 9 should be a breeze to add to your permit if you can make it work with the remaining itinerary. Would not suggest Rim to Stone in a day. Try to spend most of a day over at Stone - it's worth it. If the moon aligns with Mars you may even be able to hitch a raft ride back to Tapeats... OR... all the way to D.C..
My guess-ti-mate of where the trail peels out of the canyon is the black diamond +/-. Careful when crossing this creek; pick your spot wisely - don't get in the book.
stone.png
Last edited by hikeaz on Apr 03 2018 3:16 pm, edited 7 times in total.
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Re: Deer Creek/Thunder River loop

Post by arizona_water » Apr 03 2018 3:37 pm

@hikeaz
That's really interesting to think about. So you are saying that there is a route that follows the river east, towards Stone Creek. But it leaves from the Tapeats Creek confluence at a fairly high elevation, on Tapeats Creek right side? I can see some trail on the east side of Tapeats/Colorado confluence, but it's difficult to imagine the trail staying high the whole way to Stone Creek.
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Re: Deer Creek/Thunder River loop

Post by ddgrunning » Apr 03 2018 3:53 pm

@rally_toad
The "steep climb" (or descent) referenced in @chumley's description is the only "exposure" I recall. We descended it and found a rope helpful (particularly if descending), though not absolutely necessary. See photos 37-39: [ photo ]

Others have referenced the "lower trail" on the western edge of the river traverse. I did not explore it, but have read some accounts/descriptions suggesting that it gets pretty hairy, with some serious exposure and risk.

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Re: Deer Creek/Thunder River loop

Post by hikeaz » Apr 03 2018 4:04 pm

(Stone Creek) I generally use the term creek-river right/left, as then the thumb-rule is that it means 'looking down canyon', or LDC. Sorry if my words were unclear.
Yes, departing Tapeats about the black diamond the route on the east side of Tapeats Creek (a pretty nice trail actually) heads southish and then eastish to parallel the Grand, contours around 133 mile canyon over to Stone. It's about 4 miles O/W +/-. If you are referring to the dotted-line trail that you are seeing on the map in the above post, it is on the west side of Tapeats - that is the traditional Tapeats Trail to/from Thunder River and beyond.
Last edited by hikeaz on Apr 03 2018 5:41 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Deer Creek/Thunder River loop

Post by Tsd906 » Apr 05 2018 11:12 am

I have permits also for the last week in April. Question for you all, how is the 22 road from Fredonia down to the Bill Hall TH? I have high clearance 4x4, but just wondering how slow going it will be? Is it rough like the road into the White Box/Hanging gardens on WCC, or groomed and smooth? Also, for the clockwise loop hike, where do most cache water for the last day hike out? Looking for advice where to cache. Group of 3.

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Re: Deer Creek/Thunder River loop

Post by arizona_water » Apr 05 2018 11:30 am

@Tsd906
I cached water on the esplanade. See: [ Route Editor ]

The forest roads that you will take to access the trail head are generally in good condition. I drove out there in a Honda CRV, in April, without any problems.
Last edited by arizona_water on Apr 05 2018 11:31 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Deer Creek/Thunder River loop

Post by chumley » Apr 05 2018 11:42 am

@Tsd906
I drove in from Jacob Lake, not Fredonia. Here's the route I took: [ Route Editor ]
If I recall, the drive was about an hour long.
Most of those forest roads are very nicely maintained. Large stretches can be easily done at 45-55mph. There are some slower stretches and the last couple of miles are a bit rougher, but nothing that even remotely approaches the Hanging Gardens road!

I didn't cache water because it's only 7 miles from water to the car when going counterclockwise. From Deer Creek, it's about 9 miles, which I still don't think requires a cache -- unless you're camping in Surprise Valley or up on the Esplanade. If you prefer to cache though, I'd probably pick a spot in the 5000-5200 foot range. Just make sure to mark your GPS so you can find it again!
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Re: Deer Creek/Thunder River loop

Post by Tsd906 » Apr 05 2018 12:05 pm

@arizona_water
Thank you for the advice!

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Re: Deer Creek/Thunder River loop

Post by Tsd906 » Apr 05 2018 12:07 pm

@chumley
Chums, that was my first choice, but after calling NPS, they said the road closure prevents this route. They told me 22 was my only option. I'll probably cache just to be sure...one of my hikers requires a little more water than most.

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