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Jumpup-Nail Trail
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mini location map2021-05-30
52 by photographer avatarJohn9L
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Jumpup-Nail TrailNorthwest, AZ
Northwest, AZ
Hiking16.75 Miles 3,800 AEG
Hiking16.75 Miles   9 Hrs   24 Mns   2.02 mph
3,800 ft AEG   1 Hour   7 Mns Break
 no routes
1st trip
Linked   none no linked trail guides
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This area has been on my radar since we visited in March 2018. I was very intrigued by the Sowats approach from the east. The timing is key since winter access is difficult & it’s too hot in summer. I felt the timing was right and we went for it & I’m glad we did.

We drove up the night before and then headed for the trailhead. The roads to Sowats Point are in excellent condition. The final stretch on FR233 was high clearance & easy going. We arrived at the trailhead and scouted the area. That included driving to Sowats Point where we hiked to a knoll that had a perfect vantage of our hike below. We looked down Kwagunt Hollow which cuts its way below the Esplanade. From there our route makes a clockwise loop to Sowats Canyon & then back to the Esplanade & on to the rim. We could see our trail below. I was very excited! We would camp in a nice grove of Junipers about a mile back from the trailhead.

The sun rose early & I couldn’t sleep so I was up before 6am and we packed up and were on trail at 7am. This is my first time on the Jump Up Nail Trail and I was pleasantly surprised. The trail is in great condition! We headed down and noticed how steep the descent was. We had to be careful. We continued on as the trail traverses & then makes a steep & rugged descent through the Coconino Sandstone. This part took great care. With much effort we reached the bottom and took a short break near some cottonwood trees. Our junction was up ahead and we would see the only four people of the day. They were a group of four backpackers on their way out. We had a nice chat & continued down.

The going down Kwagunt Hollow is a mix of easy & hard. Most of it is in a dry creek bed with some mild rock hopping. We took care with each step and were glad to be wearing day packs. This kept us light & nimble and this helped us keep a respectable pace. We would hit water and lush sections of canyon with magnificent cottonwoods. We really enjoyed & admired the rugged canyon. There is a hardy bypass along the way with some off camber footing. Slow going & careful footing & it’s all good. We would finally reach the junction with Jumpup Canyon where we took another break. The sun was beating down and I was wondering if this was a good idea. (It was!)

After break we started north as we ascended Jumpup Canyon. There’s no trail as you follow the wash. It was mostly dry but we found water as we proceeded. There are some very scenic sections but our eyes were on the NW corner for the best part. We arrived at the junction with Sowats Canyon but we continued another mile up Jumpup. This is my favorite stretch. It’s a magnificent canyon loaded with cottonwoods & running water. The water had a light flow but was still respectable for early summer. We would work our way to the actual “Jump Up” where there used to be a primitive ladder. The ladder is gone & is replaced by a frail rope. It was beyond our comfort level so we turned around after taking another break & filtering water.

From here we had to retrace our steps to the junction with Sowats Canyon. Once there we started our way up this canyon. We found travel relatively easy as the creek bottom was mostly flat. We made good time and encountered water along the way. That water would increase until we hit Mountain Sheep Spring which was gushing right out of the wall. It was covered in foliage and was a nice sight to see. After that we continued up canyon which was dry the rest of the way. We proceeded about a mile to the junction with the Jumpup Nail Trail. Once there I took another break while Karl went to check on Bitter Spring. He would return and we started our exit.

The hike out went well and we were pleasantly surprised by the trail construction. They put in some quality work. We headed up and arrived on top of the Esplanade. Once there you head across relatively flat ground that’s covered in cryptobiotic soil. You basically follow the cairns as a path winds its way through. After a bit we arrived back to the junction near the cottonwood trees. From there it’s about two miles & lots of climbing back to the rim. We topped out and were glad to be done. It was a long day with some hard miles but everything went great. We would head east to camp closer to the highway. We have Old Bright Angel planned for the next day.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water 4 out of 5 Mountain Sheep Spring Gallon + per minute Gallon + per minute
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