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Grand Canyon East (Escalante Route) - Thumbnails

These are pictures of the third of three solo backpack hikes that I did in May-June 2003 (this hike took four days -- and I saw no other hikers until halfway through the last day):
  1. GREEN: Go down the Hermit a little, up the Waldron, west on the closed Old Pasture Road, down the Bass to the river, east on the Tonto across the "jewels" canyons, and return on the Hermit.

  2. RED: Go down the Hermit to the Tonto, east on the Tonto to Cremation, down the Kaibab to the river, east on the Clear Creek trail to the creek and then back, north on the Kaibab to the North Kaibab Trailhead, back to the river, and return on the South Kaibab.

  3. BLUE: Take the Tanner down to the river, west on the Escalante Route to Red Canyon, west on the Tonto to Horseshoe Mesa, and return on the Grandview.
If you are interested in hiking the Escalante Route (pictures 6 to 40 below), I have some information at the bottom of the page that you might find useful. This was my 13th hiking trip to the Grand Canyon, which is probably my favorite hiking destination. Since I took a lot of pictures of the corridor trails (Bright Angel and Kaibab) last year, I focused on other trails this time. Click a little picture to enlarge it. To see all the pictures in sequence, click the first picture (or here) and then just keep clicking the right-arrow for the next picture.

00 - Going down the Tanner Trail 01 - Pausing in a level section 02 - Descending into Tanner Canyon 03 - Some parts are very steep 04 - View of the river 05 - Rafters on the other side 06 - Tanner Rapids 07 - Sun going down 08 - Nice trail on Escalante Route 09 - Hiking above the river 10 - Cast your shadow onto the world 11 - Climbing above the river 12 - The unnamed drainage 13 - Scrambling over rocks 14 - The north shoulder of the long traverse 15 - The Unkar Delta 16 - The long traverse bends back 17 - Two navigation aids, cairns and GPS 18 - Arriving at Escalante Creek 19 - Go downstream, don't follow the cairns south 20 - Small dryfalls to descend 21 - Follow the cairns 22 - Follow the cairns 23 - Nice campsite on Escalante Beach 24 - The mighty river 25 - The peaceful river 26 - Raven wants my food 27 - Trail out of Escalante Beach 28 - Cliff above the river 29 - River 30 - First 75-mile Canyon dryfalls you must descend 31 - I lowered my pack and climbed down on the right 32 - Second dryfalls to descend, smaller but steeper 33 - Down the slot canyon 34 - Neville (75-mile) Rapids 35 - Ascend toward Papago adventures 36 - Mouth of Papago Creek 37 - Papago Wall 38 - You must climb this 50-foot cliff 39 - Now you climb down the Papago Slide 40 - Hance Rapids 41 - Red Canyon Beach 42 - Small but reliable Hance Creek 43 - The campsite with the big tree 44 - Steep trail up to Page Spring and Horseshoe Mesa 45 - Old copper mine 46 - Stones green from copper 47 - Horseshoe Mesa 48 - Grandview Trail 49 - Steep trail to the top

Click here for automated slide show.

The Escalante Route

For good directions on how to follow the route, see here and here; the first of these includes the directions that the national park gives you.

Most of the trail is relatively easy. However, I found four places to be scary and challenging, but doable:

  1. The two dryfalls in 75-mile Creek that you have to climb down (pictures 30 to 32). In both cases, I lowered my pack by a rope and then climbed down slowly and carefully. The first falls is higher but has better hand- and foot-holds; the second is lower but with fewer holds. As with most dryfalls, the stone is smooth and slippery.

  2. The Papago Wall (pictures 37 and 38) that you must climb up. The cliff is about 50-foot high and vertical, but there are hand- and foot-holds; the main challenge is to get over your fear of falling. I didn't use rope for the Papago Wall or Slide.

  3. The Papago Slide (picture 39 shows a small part of it) that you must go down. This is a steep pile of dirt, small talus rocks, and larger bolders -- and goes on for a long distance. I went down in a sitting position, grabbing onto things with my hands and feet.
I recommend gloves for these (I used cheap cotton work gloves), since they protect your hands and give you a better grip. It would be helpful to have a hiking partner (I went solo). Also, since these four tricky places are tiring and close together and time consuming, I suggest that you not plan to cover a huge number of additional miles on the day you do them.

I used my Garmin Etrex GPS to create waypoints for the route, included here in twp downloadable versions: GPS Exchange GPX (rename from "escalante.txt" to "escalante.gpx" and use with the ExpertGPS or EasyGPS or other programs) and Comma Delimited Text File CSV. I also include a big topo map showing the waypoints; if you prefer smaller maps, use individual ones that cover waypoints A-C, C-G, and F-X. All of these use the WGS 84 datum and the maps use UTM coordinates (so the red lines are one kilometer apart). GPS waypoints are usually accurate to 100 feet or less; elevations can be much less accurate. My GPS waypoints are lettered "A" through "X," which you follow in order:

  1. Mouth of Tanner Creek (picture 6)
  2. Cross Cardenas Creek
  3. Turn south and climb
  4. Cross unnamed drainage (picture 12)
  5. Middle of contour (at the north spur) (picture 14)
  6. Reach west end of contour (picture 16)
  7. Descend to here before turning east (picture 17)
  8. Reach Escalante Creek -- head downstream (don't follow cairns on the other side) (pictures 18 and 19)
  9. Leave Escalante Creek, following cairns to the left
  10. Enter into small drainage
  11. Enter into bigger drainage
  12. Continue
  13. Continue
  14. Continue
  15. Reach mouth of Escalante Creek (pictures 23 to 25)
  16. Follow trail out of the drainage (picture 27)
  17. Don't enter 75-mile Creek here
  18. Go down two dryfalls into 75-mile Creek (pictures 30 to 32)
  19. Reach mouth of 75-mile Creek (picture 34)
  20. Follow trail out of drainage (picture 35)
  21. Reach mouth of Papago Creek (picture 36)
  22. Climb Papago Wall to get out of drainage (pictures 37 and 38)
  23. Go down Papago Slide (carefully) (picture 39)
  24. Red Canyon (Hance Rapids) - End of Escalante Route (picture 40)