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Nankoweap - Kwagunt Loop GC, AZ
mini location map2021-03-16
50 by photographer avatarBiFrost
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Nankoweap - Kwagunt Loop GC, AZ 
Nankoweap - Kwagunt Loop GC, AZ
Backpack avatar Mar 16 2021
Backpack41.91 Miles 9,179 AEG
Backpack41.91 Miles4 Days         
9,179 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
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Made the drive up the night before staying in the area and arrived at Saddle Mountain Trailhead around 830 the next morning. John was able to snag the permit and put the itinerary together. There was couple inches of snow before dropping into the canyon. Otherwise straight forward hike into Nankoweap Creek and all the way to the river on Day 1 about 13 miles. Found a good camp in some trees along the sandy river bank. Lots of boaters at the other camps nearby and we talked to them several times while in the area. One group even offered us some breakfast after we returned from checking out the granaries. Of course, that hike from camp to granaries was great although the sun was problematic for pictures in the morning light.

After the hike we returned to camp and grabbed our packs to continue hiking down river towards Kwagunt Creek. It also just so happened that there was maintenance on the dam at this time so they dropped the flow to 4,000 cfs from the normal 10 to 12,000 cfs. The result was a river about 6 feet below normal exposing all the shoreline and rocks. There is a trail/route that follows the river but I decided to hike on the river banks since they were exposed and who knows when this chance would happen again. It also gave me the opportunity to chat with boaters as they floated by. Unfortunately for them with the low water it was tough slow going. John mostly followed the route so we eventually linked back up at Kwagung Creek. After a break we headed up canyon which was dry at first but within about ½ mile we started to see water. The water continued to flow nicely all the way to second nights camp. Got everything setup and had a nice relaxing night with no other people in sight.

Next morning our goal was to pack up and ascend the Butte Fault route to the saddle below Nankoweap Butte. The route just follows the drainage up and along the massive rocky fault block that defines the route. Very cool to see and hike as we ascended to the saddle about 1400 feet. At the saddle we ran into two backpackers that there were going the opposite direction. They had a very ambitious trip going from Nankoweap all the way to Phantom Ranch. Since I had been in some of those areas doing other hikes we discussed the map and I gave him info on the areas I knew. After that we dropped packs and hiked up Nankoweap Butte. Not too difficult from the saddle and the summit had a nice rocky block for great 360 views to enjoy a decent break. Then it was back down to the saddle and grabbed the backpacks to descend back into Nankoweap Creek. The route basically follows the same pattern of hiking along the fault block most of the way down. At the bottom there was a pour off that we hiked around and then hit Nankoweap and found a nice camp on the creek. We got to camp a bit early so we just enjoyed the creek and I went upstream about 1 mile to check out the area. Another kick back night at camp!

Next morning we just had to hike out to the trailhead. Ran into a couple backpackers heading in so we talked for a few minutes. Then continued the grind up the trail which even uphill is still a lot of fun. Especially fun is the traverse section that provides non stop great views along the supai layer. Eventually made it to the saddle and still some snow patches left over from the hike in. Back at the trailhead another great trip in the canyon wrapped up!

dry Kwagunt Canyon Dry Dry
the creek was dry at the river but up canyon about 1/2 mile there was light to medium flow in the creek

dry Kwagunt Creek Dry Dry
at the river the creek was dry but about 1/2 mile up canyon there was light to medium flow with good water

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water 4 out of 5 Lower Nankoweap Spring Gallon + per minute Gallon + per minute
plenty of water flowing in the creek

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Middle Nankoweap Spring Quart per minute Quart per minute
the creek was flowing but the spring was also dripping out of rocks and vegetation next to the creek

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max Nankoweap Creek Trail Junction Medium flow Medium flow
at the junction there was good flow and nice clear water
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