- Type: Hiking
NileGuide Expert tip:
There is also a 13 mile hike to the Clear Creek trailhead along the North Kaibab trail via the north rim.
- From the junction with the North Kaibab Trail, the Clear Creek Trail climbs through a series of switchbacks to the southeast towards Phantom Overlook (a sharp switchback with a landing where there are a few stone benches; from this point there is a good view looking straight down at Phantom Ranch). After passing Phantom Overlook, the trail continues up to the base of the Tapeats and then traverses to the east for another mile to the Tonto Platform. While walking along the base of the Tapeats hikers are exposed to the Great Unconformity, a gap in the geologic record spanning more than 1 billion years. After a final ascent to the top of the Tapeats, the trail contours along the Tonto Platform, crossing Sumner Wash and two minor drainages. The trail turns to the north when it intersects with Clear Creek drainage below Demaray Point: When Clear Creek Canyon appears on the right, hikers are still only half way to their destination. From here, the trail crosses shallow Zoroaster Canyon and then continues over an unnamed drainage to the north. Finally, at the end of the Tonto traverse, the trail drops into a drainage by traversing a long slope of brilliantly orange-colored Hakatai Shale. The trail ends at a dry tributary creek bed: Looking up this drainage one can see Brahma Temple. From here there is no trail, so it is necessary to hike down the drainage for approximately 150 meters to its confluence with Clear Creek. Most backpackers camp at the many impacted sites just downstream from the confluence. A faint route continues downstream to the confluence with the east fork of Clear Creek. Hiking to the Colorado River via the creek requires scrambling and numerous creek crossings. It is approximately six miles one way. A quarter mile from the river there is a pour off that requires a fifteen foot down climb. This climb can be wet and icy, so use extreme caution, and don't attempt if you don't feel comfortable with free climbing. Allow a full day to complete this hike. Many hikers also day hike up Clear Creek to Cheyava Falls. This is a five mile hike one-way and follows the creek bed. Allow a full day to complete this hike. Cheyava Falls only flows in the spring after winters with high snow fall. Important Notes: Clear Creek is extremely popular in the spring and fall and permits may be difficult to obtain. Plan ahead! Many first-time backpackers to Clear Creek attempt to hike from the South Rim to the Clear Creek Use Area, however by the time they arrive at Bright Angel Campground they are exhausted. If Bright Angel is not on the itinerary listed on your permit, DO NOT EXPECT TO CAMP THERE! It is recommended that you obtain a permit with Bright Angel Campground as your first and last nights. The nine mile stretch from Phantom Ranch to Clear Creek is south facing and consequently is in the sun from sunrise to sunset. Expect neither shade nor water for the entire length of the trail. During spring, summer, and fall months it is best to hike this trail in the extremely early morning or in the evening.
- © National Park Service 2013
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