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Backpacker Magazine – June 2011

National Parks: Grand Canyon

Discover surprising solitude and endless vistas on an easy-access multiday trip between rim and river.

by: Michael Lanza

Overlooking Granite Gorge (Valerie Long)
Overlooking Granite Gorge (Valerie Long)
Hance Creek From Horseshoe Mesa (Valerie Long)
Hance Creek From Horseshoe Mesa (Valerie Long)
View Of 7,128-Foot Zoraster Temple (Michael Lanza)
View Of 7,128-Foot Zoraster Temple (Michael Lanza)
South Kaibab Trail (Sasha Buzko)
South Kaibab Trail (Sasha Buzko)
Hermits Rest To Dripping Springs Dayhike (Elias Butler)
Hermits Rest To Dripping Springs Dayhike (Elias Butler)
Upper North Kaibab Trail (Michael Lanza)
Upper North Kaibab Trail (Michael Lanza)



RIGHT PLACE, RIGHT TIME
Find the perfect Grand Canyon trek no matter when you visit.

DAYHIKE
Hermits Rest to Dripping Springs
Time April
Most of this 6.2-mile out-and-back melts out by early March, but after the junction with the Boucher Trail (mile 2.6), it can still be icy. Time your trip for late March to early May, when snowmelt feeds this famously scenic tributary with a higher-than-normal volume of water. Avoid the trail from June to September, when the inner canyon sizzles. Total mileage 6.2

WEEKEND
Grandview to Horseshoe Mesa
Time Mid-March; October-November
Take a chance on icy rim-top trails (stay safe with light crampons like Kahtoola Microspikes: $60, kahtoola.com) in mid-March and you're likely to have the sweeping views, exciting exposure, and bright yellow carpets of brittlebrush blooms all to yourself. Camp on the mesa. There's reliable water at Miner's Spring (drop east off Horseshoe Mesa and hike .7 mile). Downside: frequent spring wind. Go in fall for calm, bluebird days in the 50s to 70s. Tip: Add another day to explore to the edge of the Inner Gorge. Total mileage 11.9 Trip ID 823945

MULTIDAY
Tanner Trail to Beamer Trail
Time March-May; September-November
Constant exposure to the sun shuts down the Tanner Trail by early June. Try this experts-only, 37-mile out-and-back to the Little Colorado River Gorge in fall and spring (cautions: the trail is loose, steep, long, and devoid of water). In summer (mid-June to September), thunderstorms can produce flash floods here. Total mileage 37. Trip ID 515868

MULTIDAY
North Bass Trail
Time Late May; October-November
Snow, ice, and fallen trees typically block road access to this 22-mile North Rim-to-river hike until June. But by then, the trail is off-limits due to triple-digit heat and the threat of flash floods after summer thunderstorms. Check with rangers about a sneak trip in late May, or target the fall and take your time (three days) on this difficult hike. Expect routefinding around boulders in Shinumo Creek, long arid sections, and bushwhacks through manzanita. The reward: cascading waterfalls and an expansive canyon all to yourself. Total mileage 22

MULTIDAY
Hermits Rest to Bright Angel
Time All year
Early-season snow melts first on south-facing aspects, and two perennial water sources (Hermit and Monument Creeks) make this 24.8-mile, three-day, inner-canyon ramble the park's best bet for a year-round backpack. In April, the Tonto Plateau (where you'll hike for 10.5 miles) is lit by prickly pear cacti exploding in lemon yellow, red, or purple blossoms. Total mileage 24.8





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READERS COMMENTS

Star Star Star Star Star
AZ Hiker
Jun 26, 2013

When you explore where others don't, STAY ORIENTED because sometimes getting lost can be easier than staying found and that's what makes short hikes the most dangerous. No matter how well they know the trail, many people never consider that they might end up unexpectedly spending the night outdoors or waiting for medical help --and so they hike without the essentials. Felix! the Sugar Glider Be Safe Hike Smart (Amazon) teaches essential day-hiking skills, items to pack, how to navigate your way with and without a map or compass, and how to get rescued. Learn to stay found by using a compass and paying attention to your surroundings. A compass doesn't need a signal or batteries and works in all types of weather, day or night, but you need to know how to use it and this book makes learning how to use a compass easy. This book is for all ages. Felix! the Sugar Glider Be Safe Hike Smart (Amazon) is a fast, easy read that will definitely make your hike more safe and enjoyable!

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