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May 2003

Three Quiet Grand Canyon Hikes

You'd never guess it: Three quiet trails in such a busy, beautiful place.

Kanab Creek

This semidefined route is better known to rafters who explore the canyon starting from the Colorado River. Backpackers can find it by hiking 15 miles through the Kanab Creek Wilderness Area to the national park boundary, from which it’s another 15 miles to the river. Expect to meet more humans (in sandals and bikinis) at the end of this hike than at the beginning. But there’s more than enough sandstone beauty and great scrambling to keep you entertained in Kanab Creek Wilderness, so don’t set the river as your goal unless you have the time and stamina.

The hike to the park boundary is 31 miles round-trip and begins in the open desert of Hack Canyon, then descends into the tight walls of Kanab Creek. Continuing down to Jumpup Canyon and the Colorado River offers another 32 round-trip miles with some moderate scrambling on boulders and ledges, and possibly a couple of swims. Allow 4 to 8 days, and secure permits if you hike within the park boundary.

Tuckup Trail

To start the Tuckup, you must coax your vehicle to the Grand Canyon’s most remote ranger station, Toroweap (“dry or barren valley” in native Paiute), on 60 to 90 miles of dirt road. Then you must keep yourself on the “trail,” which many a hiker has lost. If this sounds too adventurous, stop here. But if you don’t mind a little four-wheeling and occasional route finding, you’ll have jaw-dropping views all to yourself. Better yet, you can enjoy them in the winter, when the canyon is cool, the water is more plentiful, and your fellow backpackers are still hibernating. That’s because the rim here is usually snow-free, since it rises only to 6,000 feet.

From Toroweap Point, the Tuckup Trail follows a wide esplanade near the 4,000-foot contour–almost 2,500 feet above the Colorado River. It’s about 70 miles to trail’s end at Buckhorn Springs. Hike out and back as far as time permits. Those with off-trail hiking experience can combine parts of the Tuckup with loop routes that take you down to the Colorado.

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