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Old BA & Miners Route & Skeleton Pt Rt, AZ
mini location map2013-03-16
28 by photographer avatarJohn9L
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Old BA & Miners Route & Skeleton Pt Rt, AZ 
Old BA & Miners Route & Skeleton Pt Rt, AZ
Hiking avatar Mar 16 2013
Hiking17.31 Miles 5,386 AEG
Hiking17.31 Miles   6 Hrs   49 Mns   2.54 mph
5,386 ft AEG
1st trip
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.
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