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AZT Utah to South Rim Grand Canyon, AZ
mini location map2019-07-04
57 by photographer avatarBiFrost
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AZT Utah to South Rim Grand Canyon, AZ 
AZT Utah to South Rim Grand Canyon, AZ
Backpack avatar Jul 04 2019
Backpack105.89 Miles 18,762 AEG
Backpack105.89 Miles5 Days         
18,762 ft AEG
1st trip
On July 4th, 2015 we finished section hiking the AZT northbound to Stateline Campground on the Utah Border. Fast forward to 2019 and we decided to hike the AZT southbound and start from the same Stateline Campground on same July 4th weekend. However, this time our plan was to do multi-day backpacks instead of day hikes to complete the trail.

We had a shuttle pick us up at South Rim of Grand Canyon visitor center and drive us around to Stateline Campground where we camped July 3rd. Next morning on the 4th we started about 545am up the trail. Our goal, 5 days to make the South Rim by Monday afternoon.

Day 1 - Good start in the morning as the trail climbs out of House Rock Valley and up onto the Kaibab Plateau. We ran into 2 hikers in the first 2hours but then nobody else rest of day. Up on the plateau it’s lots of Juniper, Pinyon Pine, Sage brush and gates. Several AZT gates have been new additions since our 2015 hike. We passed Joes and Government Reservoir before the trail finally climbs into the Ponderosa Pine. With a few side trips in search of water (Umbrella Tank and Ponderosa Trick Tank were good) we covered about 23 miles first day and camped near FR 249.

Day 2 – Now in the pines the trail gradually climbs higher and the scenery gets better with the addition of aspens and Douglas fir. We only had 5 miles to reach Hwy 89A crossing. We ran into a retired couple who was on the last part of their AZT trip northbound and interesting to talk with them for a bit. Moving on we headed up to Buffalo Tank where I found decent water in the metal tank (not the cow tank). Continuing the trail heads above 8,000 feet so it was nice until we hiked into the burn section. There is an 8 mile long burn area but we did find good water at a wildlife cement trough before finding camp in a cluster of Ponderosa. 19.5 miles

Day 3 – We finished crossing the burn area and passed Crane Lake (water not very accessible but we didn’t need any). We continued onto Little Pleasant Valley which did have water but again we didn’t need any. Really enjoyed the section from Crane Lake to Dog Lake and East Rim area. Lots of meadows and thick forest crossings. Near Dog Lake there is a wildlife cement trough which had great water. Filtered four liters before hiking to East Rim to take in some views of Saddle Mountain Wilderness and Marble Canyon in the distance. We continued on to Crystal Spring which also had excellent ice cold water. Filtered another 5 liters before hiking another 2.5 miles to our nights camp. We found a nice spot in the aspens and mixed pines. 23.8 miles

Day 4 – Only objective was to make the North Rim Lodge where we had a reservation. Shower, cold beer, and something other than trail food was a good motivator. We only had to cover about 17.5 miles our shortest day yet. Being motivated we made the lodge by 145 and fortunately they let us check in early. After getting cleaned up we headed over to the bar for some beverages and grabbed something from the deli. Great way to spend the afternoon and evening before crashing for the night!

Day 5 – We arranged for the 4am shuttle back to the North Kaibab Trailhead. The shuttle was quick so we started shortly after 4am with headlamps for the first 45 minutes. North Kaibab trail is still one of my favorites despite lots of people. From the Supai Tunnel down there are no mules allowed so the trail below that is always great. Was able to turn off the headlamp just below the tunnel as we descended to Supai Bridge. Favorite part is the switchbacks through the Red Wall and down to the Pumphouse where we took the first break and got some water. We encountered maybe 10 people on the way there which wasn’t too bad. After the break we headed for Cottonwood Camp but continued on with our next stop at Phantom with the exception of a short break in The Box which always a nice section even as things started to get warm.

Eventually we made it to Phantom and stopped for an ice cold lemonade and some salty potato chips at the cantina. Took a fairly long break to get ready for the hot hike out. Once we were all hydrated and ready to go we pressed on across Black Bridge and started the long hot hike up South Kaibab. The bottom part felt like an oven especially since it was almost noon. We stopped in the shady spots for a breather when we could and there is a good spot just below Tip Off that is there probably all day. After Tip Off we continued up through the Red Wall and found another nice shady spot just below Skeleton Point where we took a break. Once past Skeleton it was noticeably cooler and we were able to keep going to the rim. We hit the rim just before 4pm and happy to be done with about the first 105 miles of AZT sections 43 to 38.

We took the shuttle over to the visitors center to a waiting vehicle and then much earned Mexican food at Plaza Bonita in Tusayan!

dry Big Ridge Tank Dry Dry
just grass growing no visible water

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Bridge Tank 1-25% full 1-25% full
small pool. would not filter unless absolutely necessary

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Buffalo Trick Tank 26-50% full 26-50% full
good water at the metal tank (not the cow tank). I just had to slide to port hole on top of the metal tank to access the water

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Crane Lake 1-25% full 1-25% full
looked decent but was hard to access and we didn't need any

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water 4 out of 5 Crystal Spring Tank 76-100% full 76-100% full
great ice cold clear water. The concrete box tank was completely full

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max Dog Lake 51-75% full 51-75% full
good clear water

dry Government Reservoir Dry Dry
dry as a bone

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Ponderosa Trick Tank 26-50% full 26-50% full
large tanks with access bins on one side. clear water

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Sourdough Well 1-25% full 1-25% full
2 small pools but could be filtered
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