The Best Hikes in Kaibab National Forest

1,527 Triplog Reviews in the Kaibab National Forest
Most recent of 620 deeper Triplog Reviews
6.17 mi • 1,874 ft aeg
Started 5:40am in order to avoid possible storms. From past experience I know monsoon storms come up at any time. 56 degrees at the start, very comfortable. Clouds around but the sun came out during my ascent. Lots of switchbacks and it's always up, up, up. Started at 7,800' and made it to 9,500'. At the 3 mile mark I felt like I'd had enough of the climbing and switchbacks. Nice views of SF Peaks and hills/mountains to the south and west. I really wanted to get to the top to see if I could see the Grand Canyon, but not to be.

I saw 6 other hikers during my trip. The last two were an older couple about 1/2 mile from the TH. He was 77 and she was about the same. They have a cabin in nearby Parks and hike here frequently. They said they hike to a point about 2.5-3 miles up they call their "lunch spot." It's always fun to meet someone like this and exchange stories. More power to them, I hope to be doing the same in 14 years!

I'm not a botanist so my 77-year-old acquaintance had to introduce me to "Indian TP" (mullein). Fortunately I didn't have to use it. :-)

Went back by way of US 180 thru Flag. On the way out I spotted a deer.
1.57 mi • 331 ft aeg
The Bill Hall Trail is the popular way into Deer Creek and Thunder River. However, the Indian Hollow Trailhead is actually marked as the Thunder River Trail which is odd because it adds an extra 6 miles or so to the Thunder River access over Bill Hall. We also had never seen the trailhead so with some extra time we decided to check it out.

From the trailhead the goal was just to check out the top part without dropping into the canyon much and that's exactly what we did. Great views along the trail as it mostly contours over to the break and first big switchbacks. We didn't make it quite that far turning around at under 1 mile. Regardless it was nice to check this out for future reference.
23.72 mi • 7,727 ft aeg
Most magical hike of the GC so far! This is the GC spectacular. Seriously, this hike has it all. All the indescribable views, all the adventure, all the giant waterfalls, narrows, springs, wide open esplanade, ALL the fantastic ups, everything wonderful and nothing terrible.

DAY 1: Bill Hall TH to Deer Creek Camp AX7 (~8 hours, 8.7 miles, 634 ft aeg)
We camped up near the Bill Hall TH Saturday evening and started hiking around 7:30 am Sunday. Got all warmed up hiking the little bit of up to Monument Point before heading down down down...and then some more down. The views the entire hike down this section through the Kaibab, Toroweap, and Coconino Sandstone Formations are majestic. There are a couple of areas we had to sit & scooch or drop a bag down but nothing of any difficulty. It is pretty slow moving over the first couple of miles though. We reached the Thunder River Trail connection around 9:30 am and a couple of people in our group stashed water for the hike back out. From this point, the hike down is less steep and fairly smooth moving across the Esplanade. The Esplanade is an alien world and I love everything about it. Some of the people in our group were starting to get pretty warm hiking across the Esplanade; the rest of us were just in awe of the wild rock sculptures. We stashed water in the rock pockets just above the Redwall decent, chatted with a Park Ranger and showed him our permit, and headed down around 11:30 am. We were all feeling the heat now. The hike down the Supai and Redwall Formations to Surprise Valley is really hot mid-day, even in the cool Spring months. And it's A LOT, even going down. But the views are fantastic and that helps to ease the physical part. The fork in the trail (right to Deer Creek, left to Thunder River and Tapeats Creek) is marked by a couple of tall sticks haha. No formal sign or anything so keep an eye out. At the intersection, we headed west on the Deer Creek Trail. This is where it began to feel like the trail would never end & the sun/heat was sucking the energy out of me. I got a boost of energy as we started to descend toward Deer Creek buuuuut slowly realized there was still a long way to go. There's a sketchy turn in the descent and a sketchy crossing of scree but the narrow turn is super short and the scree is stable. AND this is right around the point where Deer Spring is visible. Finally FINALLY beautiful cold water! We played in the spring for a while, climbed up behind the waterfall, got refreshed and cooled down. There were rafters at the spring who had hiked up from the river and they looked much less rough than we did. We left the spring and just a few hundred feet down reached Deer Creek. A few from our group were hanging out under the big beautiful Cottonwood tree just as the trail meets Deer Creek. We all trudged the final half mile to the campground in a daze. Everything looked like a paradise after the hot long miles we had just come from. We got to Deer Creek camp (AX7) around 3:30 pm and found our perfect shady spots to set up camp.

DAY 2: Deer Creek Camp to Deer Creek Falls and Back (~2 hours hiking time, 1.5 miles, 500 ft aeg)
After a peaceful and beautiful night's sleep in the canyon, we woke up Monday and packed day packs to head down to Deer Creek Falls and the Colorado River. Whatever we were feeling from the day before, the Deer Creek Narrows awakened something special in every one of us. This is a sacred place. I felt like I was moving through a place where words lost meaning and people were instantly calmed and quiet. The narrows feel enormous but there are a handful of tight squeezes as you move closer to the river. A small daypack was fine but I would not want to carry a backpacking pack through the tight parts. There were groups of rafters moving through the Narrows as we headed down and everyone was kind and friendly. At the end of the Narrows you walk out of the canyon and get a spectacular view of the Colorado River...and 50 rafts on either side. Woah. It's a strange feeling to go from quiet & solitude to a bustling city of rafting trips. After a few switchbacks and a steep drop down along the trail...the great ginormous Deer Creek Falls in all its glory. We hung out at the falls (most of our group jumped in!) for about an hour before the people thinned out & the rafts left & we had the place to ourselves. What a treat! The GC is amazing. There are entire perfect worlds tucked away in her canyons. Deer Creek Falls and the Narrows are definitely one of the most magical canyon worlds. We hiked back up to camp & got ready for our early start the next day. Oh and hikers who came in late saw the pink rattler up near the toilet! We tried to find them but weren't as lucky.

DAY 3: Deer Creek Camp AX7 to Upper Tapeats Camp AW7 (~6 hours, 5.5 miles, 1,400 ft aeg)
Got up early to beat the heat & started hiking around 4:30 am. About a half mile in the trail splits & we stayed left to take the high route. We hiked a few miles of the river trail in darkness but it was straightforward to navigate. As soon as the sky started to fill with light the views of the Colorado River were unbelievable. We came to the "climb" at the mouth of Bonita Creek around 7 am and it is not bad at all coming from the Deer Creek side. Most of our group scrambled up with no problem. I passed my bag up & someone threw a handline down to me but I didn't need it. Honestly, it looked like a totally different story looking down from the top so I'm happy we got to climb up instead of down. We got to Tapeats Creek, took a break, and headed up and up and up and up. It felt like the up was never-ending. The trail along Tapeats Creek definitely had the most sketchy sections of trail (narrow trail with steep drops) and there were many of these sections. Those actually didn't bother me even though I'm afraid of heights but they bothered others in our group who are good climbers so go figure. The hike up Tapeats Creek has the most insanely incredible views of the entire trip the ENTIRE hike up! Maybe I was too obsessed with the views to notice how sketchy the trail was. We got to Upper Tapeats campsite (AW7) around 10:30 am and basically plopped down in the creek & sat there forever to cool down. There is not much shade during the day at the Upper Tapeats camp but luckily the water is right there & is nice & cold. We explored the little moss-covered waterfalls upstream and explored the rock ledges above our camp where my friend found a sleepy rattlesnake. One person in our group had bad blisters and another was feeling very anxious about the heat so we decided to only stay one night out of our planned two nights at Upper Tapeats. It was for the best since a group the same size as ours came to camp and wanted to stay at the site we were already set up at. We decided to hike to Thunder Spring in the morning and hang out there all day until evening when the sun would be blocked.

DAY 4: Upper Tapeats Camp AW7 to the Esplanade (~4.5 hours, 3.4 miles, 3,160 ft aeg)
Got started around 10:30 am and hiked one hour (0.7 miles and around 1000 ft elevation gain) to reach Thunder Spring. And that's where we stayed until 5 pm. :sweat: Thunder River Falls is like a magical fairyland if fairies were into death metal. There are beautiful moss-covered pockets and crystal clear water and it is LOUD. It was a fun relaxing place to spend the day. We all made some food & filled up with cold water and headed on up to Surprise Valley with the sun blocked the whole way up. Surprise Valley was lovely in this light and seemed more lovely and interesting on this side compared with the Deer Creek side. We powered up the Redwall (which surprisingly felt much better going up vs going down - probably because of the lack of direct sun) and made it to the top and to the Esplanade just as it got dark (around 7:10 pm). The rest of our group got to the top and we found our water cache in the rock pockets where we had left it. At that point, it was 8:30 pm & dark dark. Hiking the Esplanade in the dark was too difficult so we decided to sleep on the rocks (not disturbing the cryptobiotic soil) and hike out in the morning. It was a crazy windy night but we were happy to have one big "up" behind us and a great view of the stars above.

DAY 5: Esplanade to Bill Hall TH (~4 hours, 4.6 miles, 2,025 ft aeg)
Morning Esplanade! I sure love this place. Started hiking at 7 am and reached the Thunder River Trail connection and the second stash of water an hour & 20 minutes later. Now for the real fun part. Those final 2.25 miles were a struggle and a half. But I just kept up my little train that could - slow & steady choo choo. We saw a number of groups heading down as we went up. It's funny, everyone wants to chat heading down but the feeling is not mutual going up. We took a break in the cave and kept going for the final push to the top. Made it to Monument Point at 10:30 am and what a relief! It did not feel like 3 1/2 hours...more like 10. Epic epic everything.

Seriously, I want to live here. Or visit all the time. It's all hard. And usually hot. And pretty darn real. And I think people probably come out changed. These places will be a part of me forever. They are that special and I'm grateful to get to visit.
1.81 mi • 154 ft aeg
Drove up north for sycamore falls but wanted to add something else to make the drive worth it. I figured these would be flowing if sycamore was. Spoiler alert: I was wrong! :?

It was a mud pile with a tiny tiny trickle. There are some cool petroglyphs on the wall though! Also was a cool cave with icicles hanging inside!

Becky and I climbed up and sat at the top of the falls for a LONG time enjoying some wine I brought and some girl chat.

Lovely day despite the small disappointment of no flow!
5.5 mi • 900 ft aeg
We are on track to stand atop all the cinder cones between highway 180 and the i-40...why? I dunno, cuz we live right here and we can.
So five of us met up in Valle and piled in my car, first spent about an hour looking for artifacts and petroglyphs. found them quite easily, and then we all headed out to FR 144.
A week ago this same road was so muddy my car was slip sliding all over the place so we backtracked and hiked up Ebert Hill instead (check out that description later this week for some history on the hill)

This week the 144 was perfectly dry so we had no trouble getting to our destination which was basically Butcherknife Tank.

We went up Butcherknife Hill then Alycia. Saw lots of historic things along the way up and down. Walked with some cows for about a mile then walked through the fenced in Butcherknife Tank surrounded by very curious cows. No, I didn't get to pet them.

This was a lazy little dayhike but was perfect with new friends and beautiful views.
4 cinder cones down...a couple dozen to go :lol:
3.5 mi • 800 ft aeg
Jamie and I scooped up our coworker Brooke and came out to bag four of these little cinder cone hills. They both have 2wd jeeps :roll: so it was up to my Hyundai Santa Fe to get us to the "trailheads"
I opted to follow one of the "Great Western Trail" roads slightly west of the old highway off the 180 and it was a bit muddy.
My SUV was sliding all over the place and eventually got stuck...for just a second. Good thing I have All wheel drive. Seriously...who buys a 2wd Jeep?

Anyway...we retraced our tire tracks and parked closer to the 180 adding on just unde half a mile to our hike. A very very muddy half mile.

The hike up the north face of the east nose of Ebert is very straightforward and easy. No trash, no footprints, no signs or unnecessary rock Cairns.
It's a beautiful little walk.
The wind was heading north right into our path and by the time we hit the summit or cheeks were pink and red and lips were chapped. Of course none of us had chapstick.

We boogied down the west side of the hill and came around the north side right atop the cinder pit. Lots of cow and pronghorn sign here.
Also an abandoned washer and dryer set, some anchovy tins and numerous other "unidentified rusty objects".

Easy. Muddy. Windy. Beautiful views from the top. It helps to only live 20mins away too.
52 mi • 6,000 ft aeg
Deer Creek / Kanab Creek Loop
This hike has been on my list for a few years now. I hiked the Deer Creek Trail in October 2014 & I was in the Kanab Creek area in March 2018. I wanted to see the lower reaches of Kanab & learned about the route along the river that connects the two drainages. One can hike down Deer Creek & then link up to Kanab along 8+ miles of river. I thought this made for a great loop! I didn’t realize how difficult & demanding this route would be. The route along the river is known for “extreme exertion” and the route did not disappoint. The following is our day by day triplog from the adventure.

Day 1 – Bill Hall to the Deer Creek Patio
We would drive up the night before & car camped near Sowats Point. We had two vehicles & we left one at the Jump Up Nail Trailhead & then we all packed into one vehicle & drove to Monument Point & started hiking around 10am. You start by climbing a couple hundred feet to Monument Point. From there you drop & then traverse & make a healthy drop to the top of the Esplanade. We continued on & took a break by the junction of the Thunder River Trail. We noticed several potholes of water in the slick rock. The area had ran a couple days before & that made the drive in a muddy mess. We would continue & take another break at the top of the Redwall & then made the final push to the creek. We passed the “Throne Room” and noticed the waterfall shooting right out of the wall was dry. I would continue down while the others made stop. I arrived at the camp area & found two tents set up. They were a couple of guys from Albuquerque that were doing the Deer Creek Thunder River loop. We would set up our tents & then spent some time at the Deer Creek Patio as dusk set in. We would spend the rest of the evening enjoying dinner under our camp lights.

Day 2 – Deer Creek to Kanab Creek via the Colorado River Route
We started day 2 relatively easy as we packed up and headed out around 8am. We have a very hardy day planned with 8+ difficult miles along the river. I had some anxiety about this stretch. I’ve known about this route for years & knew it went but I didn’t know the details as well as I should. There were only a few triplogs & they commented on the difficulty & sun exposure. Plus they spent two days crossing the section. We’re going for one day.

The route started with our descent through the Deer Creek Patio & then the exposed narrows & then Deer Creek Falls along the Colorado River. That all went well & we took a variety of pics. The route was on my mind & I was eager to begin. We would start out along the river & pushed through some reeds & other brush. It was obvious this was going to be difficult. We found some semblance of a route but it was not consistent & disappeared at times. About a mile in we climbed high to avoid a possible cliff along the river. I started questioning if this section was a good idea. It was hot & I knew we’re in for a challenge. The others assured me they were good & this reduced my anxiety. We would climb up a ridge to the top of the Tapeats & then started a long stretch several hundred feet above the river. This section was cairned & relatively easy to follow. I focused in & pushed through with a quick stop at a spring along one of the drainages. I would continue as a set of boaters passed below. I was wishing we were lower & could thumb for a boat ride to Kanab Creek. We were too high up & that was not possible. I would eventually drop back to the river & took a break and waited for the others. We were about a third of the way across & I knew the rest of the route was right along the river. We were fully committed at this point.

The others joined me & we continued after a break. The next mile went well & we took another break at Fishtail Canyon. This is the spot most people camp. We were in good shape so Karl got some water from a pool a few minutes up canyon. After that it was a long slow grind along the river. Some sections made for relatively quick travel while others slowed us down. It was hard & slow travel but we made progress. We were delighted to see shade as the sun was low in the sky & was blocked by the south rim thousands of feet above. We kept at it as the day ticked away. I filtered water at some point & we took another break. Next up was a section that had large boulders & slowed progress. I had sweat dripping off my face but knew we were running out of daylight. I pushed ahead and arrived at the mouth of Kanab Creek right before dusk. I would canvas the area & found a decent campsite a few hundred yards down river. The others arrived around nightfall & I led them to our camp. We were finally done & couldn’t be happier! The hike pushed us to our limits & is the hardest segment of a backpacking trip I have ever done. I was glad it was over. We would settle in to dinner & a fairly early bed time.

Day 3 – Kanab Creek to Scotty’s Hollow
Our day 3 had a slower start but we knew we have another hard day ahead of us. The going up Kanab Creek is not easy & we wanted time to explore Whispering Falls & Scotty’s Hollow. We would walk out of camp around 9am and headed up Kanab Creek. The going went well as it was a relatively wide canyon with a good creek bed. We could tell the creek flashed a few days before due to all the mud. This was not an issue as we made our way up canyon. We arrived at the junction with Whispering Falls around 11:30am and took a short break & then started the hike up canyon. We arrived at the lower pool and Karl filtered water. We would climb the embankment & headed up stream for Whispering Falls. You arrive at a pool that appears to be a swimmer. There’s the option to wade through waist deep water on the right or hug the wall on the left. The left wall worked well and once across the pool you climb a narrow slot & then arrive at Whispering Falls. It’s a stunning grotto that feels indoors. Another group arrived at the same time as us & we all enjoyed it together. Some of them swam but that water was too cold for my desert blood. After we had our fill we returned to Kanab Creek & loaded up and continued north.

It was coming up on 1pm and we had a lot of miles ahead of us. We pretty much put our heads down and pushed onward. The other group mentioned a couple of swimmers but admitted there could be a bypass. I was hoping for a dry way around. We followed the canyon & weaved our way around rocks & other obstacles. The deepest water we encountered was knee deep but we spent a lot of time & energy working our way around the deep pools. We eventually hit an area I had a waypoint labeled “difficult boulders”. I looked ahead and saw the channel lined with rocks of varying sizes and some ranged up to the size of a small house. This section was a lot of fun as we searched for a dry route. With much effort we found a manageable route. It took a lot but we were getting through. We eventually found a deep pool that appeared to be surrounded by large boulders. I’m sure the other group swam here. I looked around and found a potential route on the left. I climbed up and found a wedge on the far left wall. I took a closer look and found it very awkward & slippery but I was able to scramble up. I noticed an easy way down the other side & we had our dry bypass! I yelled out to the others and we worked as a team to get everyone up. We continued on.

Our plan was to make it to Showerbath Spring & that’s after the side trip with Scotty’s Hollow. It was approaching 4pm & we only had about two hours of daylight. Plus we’re all tired from hard hiking. Chumley & I talked & agreed to start looking for campsites, preferably something near Scotty’s Hollow. We kept hiking & found a couple of possible sites along the way but we’re hoping for something right at the turnoff for the Hollow. We arrived at the mouth of the side canyon but there wasn’t a camping site there. We would backtrack five minutes to a nice site just above the creek. It was another long day & we had just enough time to set up camp before nightfall. It was another evening enjoying dinner & then on to bed around 9pm.

Day 4 – Scotty’s Hollow to Jump Up
We have another big day planned so we packed up relatively early and were hiking around 8:20am. One of the challenges of this hike was short days. Sunrise was 6:45 am & Sunset was around 5:30pm. Mornings were cold & we were slow to get started. After cutting our hike short the day before, we started with Scotty’s Hollow. This was my first time in this section but we had time constraints. We admired the waterfall at the start of the side canyon & then scrambled up the rabbit hole. Once above we headed up canyon which is wonderful! There is flowing water & fantastic geology. We wanted to go to the turnaround point roughly 1.5 miles up canyon but had to turn around short due to timing.

Once back to Kanab Creek we loaded up and continued heading up canyon. The going went well and we navigated more boulder problems and crossed in knee deep water. It took us just over an hour to get to Showerbath Spring and sure enough there was one final pool right below the spring. We were able to climb over a boulder & had to pass packs over. Once we were over it we took an extended break at the spring. I’ve been to Showerbath in March 2018 when it was my turnaround point. I knew we had relatively easy going for the rest of our hike. After our break we continued hiking & worked our way north. The going is easy as the rocks are smaller and easy to hike through. We took a break at the junction with Kanab Creek & Jump Up Canyon. From there we headed up Jump Up and enjoyed a few miles of narrows. This section is a real treat. We made a short side trip up Indian Hollow and then continued up and passed Kwagunt Hollow. The last few miles to our camp was a grind but we arrived with about an hour of daylight. We would camp just above the junction of Jump Up Canyon & Sowats Canyon. We would settle in for our final night in the canyon.

Day 5 – Jump Up to Sowats Trailhead
Our last day in the Grand Canyon. We had a moderate hike ahead of us but we have a long drive back to Phoenix. Once again we were up fairly early & on trail around 8:15am. We would follow Sowats Canyon to the Jump Up Nail Trail and follow that back to one of the vehicles on the rim. Sowats Canyon had a light flow in the creek & is a bit rocky but was fairly easy. We worked our way up canyon as the sun beamed overhead and the temps rose. We made a stop at Mountain Sheep Spring and admired the glyphs by the campsite. From there we hiked the last mile to our trail junction exit and we took a short break there. We would then hike up the first real trail we’ve seen in four days! It’s a solid climb to the Esplanade but was nice heading up. Once up top we traversed across the top and headed for the Cottonwood trees near the final junction that led back to the rim. We took another short break at the water just a bit downhill. From there it was the typical grind back to the rim. I was delighted to top out and that ended our trip. The others would top out and we then drove back to Monument Point and retrieved the other vehicle. From there it was a solid six hours back to Phoenix with a stop at NiMarcos in Flagstaff. Another trip comes to an end!

Final Thoughts
This was an extremely difficult hike. Especially along the river route & the section of Kanab Creek below Showerbath Spring. I honestly don’t recommend this hike.

Kanab Creek is an absolute joy to hike but takes a lot of time & effort. I wish we had another day or two for this trip.

We had good water at each of our campsites. The Colorado River was mostly clear despite rain a week before. The bottom of Kanab Creek was muddy but cleared as we ascended the canyon.

The short days was a blessing & a curse. Mornings were cold & we were slow to begin. And then it was dark by 6pm. Longer days would be nice but that means more sun exposure along the river route.

Thanks to Chumley & Karl for driving!
16.55 mi • 994 ft aeg
Did this as an overnight linking 42 and 43 to close out the AZT the same way I'd started it; backpacking. Took my time since I knew this was my next to last section and really savored it. We didn't use the AZT reroute from the burn scar, but rather took hwy247 (which was also a wreck) since it shaved like 2 miles off the reroute. Most of the south-bounders we encountered were using 247 as well. So black tarry mud, and complementary AZT foot weights from the parts of the route adjacent to the fire damage and all day it smelled like I'd been at a campfire. I know it will all bounce back over time but it is still a bummer to see.

I picked up my stashed water at 4Winter Road junction and made my final camp of my AZT section hikes that night. Perfect dark sky and very cold. Coyotes sang me off to sleep.
4 mi • 2,225 ft aeg
We just finished hiking the Bull Basin trail and feel that this guide should be updated to show that the trailhead is now at the end of FR90B. It used to be at the end of 90A but the owners of the property there have fenced it off so the trailhead had to be moved. We reached the trailhead by driving north from Flagstaff on 180, turning left on FR191C north of the Kendrick Park meadow area, then west to a sharp right onto FR767, then west to FR760A which becomes FR90 at the Coconino-Kaibab boundary. The Trailhead is at the end of FR90B which splits off to the south from FR90. It is poorly marked coming from the east, but well marked coming from the west. The drive from 180 to the trailhead was 7.4 miles. It took us 65 minutes from 180 to find the trailhead and 40 minutes to get back to 180.

The trail no longer follows any old roads. It starts at the left of the large sign in the parking area. The narrow trail marked with cairns starts in a wooded area left of the sign with little elevation change until you go through the fence and gate into the Kendrick Wilderness area. Most of the trail is not maintained, with fallen trees to climb over or under, brush and tall grass hiding some of the cairns, and loose, slippery rock in steep sections. The 8.4 mile round trip took us about 8 hours, including a 20 min. lunch break at the cabin and many stops for photos. The cabin is locked and it's former contents are stacked outside of it.
20.77 mi • 2,268 ft aeg
This is an amazing late summer hike. I did this a few days after torrential monsoon rains which made for a lush, green hike with mushrooms the size of my head exploding out of the cool, loamy soil.It's a long hike full of ridlelines, saddles, meadows and valleys.
This was part of a series of day hikes, passages 40 thru 43, to finish the AzTrail. 40 and 41 were definitely my favs as 42 and 43 both had extensive burn scars and erosion from the Magnum Fire. I will likely return in a few years to see the recovery.
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