Adventures, Backpacking, Multi-Day Trips

GRAND CANYON NORTH RIM ADVENTURE 5 Night 6 Days

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Date/Time
Date(s) - 04/26/2021 - 05/01/2021

North Rim, Jacob Lake Arizona

Location
North Rim

Categories


EPIC, BREATHTAKING, MAGNIFICENT…these are just a few words that describe this Bucket List Adventure. Five nights and six days spent deep within the pure wilderness of the Grand Canyon, this is one trip you will not want to miss out on! If you want a TRUE adventure and incredible scenery, away from all the tourists, this trip is just right for you.

From the North Rim we will traverse down through scenic pre-historic mushroom-like rock formations known as the Esplanade and camp high above the Colorado River for our first night. From the Esplanade we start our morning descending down the “Red Wall” to a massive river flowing directly out from the side of the canyon, Thunder River, which happens to be the shortest named river in the world…imagine that! From there we continue onward through the unfathomable scenic scale of the lower Grand Canyon walls, down towards the Colorado River. Crossing over Tapeats Creek twice to make camp our second night, directly along the roaring intensity and breathtaking grandeur of the iconic Colorado River!

After traversing part of the Colorado River we’ll head up and over to the “Patio” for our third night, a pure and indescribable Oasis in the Desert. We’ll make camp at Deer Creek for two nights exploring the area’s beautiful terraces, inviting swimming holes, epic narrows, a hidden waterfall and of course the magnificent Eden of a waterfall just off the Colorado River. The following two days will be spent returning back up to the North Rim to complete the lollipop loop, traveling up a massive boulder field that just might will take your breath away!

This trip is considered DIFFICULT, has quite a bit of exposure and may be amongst the toughest hikes in the Grand Canyon. However if you’re up for the challenge, you definitely won’t regret a single strenuous mile of this 27-mile lollipop route.

Night by Night Itinerary:
1. 04/26/2021 AY9 ESPLANADE, AT LARGE CAMPING
2. 04/27/2021 AW8 LOWER TAPEATS CAMP SITE
3. 04/28/2021 AX7 DEER CREEK CAMP SITE
4. 04/29/2021 AX7 DEER CREEK CAMP SITE
5. 04/30/2021 AY9 ESPLANADE, AT LARGE CAMPING
6. 05/01/2021 OUT Hiking Out

Backpacking: 6-11 miles/day; Elevation gain/loss: 2,000-5,000′

Please make note that this trip has many sections with exposure to heights. There are portions with extremely steep downhills, narrow ledges, drop offs, some bouldering and loose rock underfoot that will require confidence in navigating them with a full pack. Please reach out to us directly to discuss if there are any concerns. 

DAY 1:  Approx 5miles / 2,000ft Elevation Loss

We arrive early morning at Monument Point along the Grand Canyon’s tucked away North Rim. After our final preparations, we will begin our trek down the Bill Hall Trail, stopping regularly for brief breaks and outstanding photo opportunities of the canyons below. The steep, upper section of the trail will demand your attention with a  “packs-off” scramble that will add to the adventure. After an initial descent of about 1500+ft, the trail will level out as we begin our traverse along the Esplanade, a broad slickrock bench studded with mushroom-shaped rocks, juniper trees and amazing cryptobiotic soil crusts. This “other-worldly” landscape will delight and inspire your inner photographer!

After a thrilling day of awe-inspiring beauty, we will arrive at camp overlooking Surprise Valley and your first glimpse of the Colorado River...still a few thousand feet below. This campsite is located on rock bed and may require alternative tie downs aka rocks if you do not have a free-standing tent. Kick back, relax and take in the grandeur of being entirely immersed within the top layers and the wonder of the Grand Canyon! We will be caching water for our return hike this day. That means will be leaving water there, and pick it up when we come back for our last night. 

DAY 2:  Approx 7-8miles / 3,250ft Elevation Loss

We will break camp early in the morning and be on the trail around sunrise to beat the heat down in the canyon floor. We start out this day hiking steeply down a mile of switchbacks descending to Surprise Valley, seeing stunning views of the Thunder River Valley in route. It will be one of the most challenging days in the Grand Canyon by far, but equally breathtakingly rewarding. Once passing through Surprise Valley we are immersed within the middle layers of the canyon, making every new view around the next bend indescribably impactful in it's discovery. Here is where the scale of hiking within the canyon becomes unfathomable and most memorable. 

As an added layer of sheer excitement, we pass by the shortest river in the canyon - Thunder River - where we'll break and take in the epicenes of this incredible view before hiking down to and over Tapeats Creek twice to camp at Lower Tapeats. It's all downhill the entire day...but you'll have the option to relieve those sore knees as this night you will be camping right along the mighty Colorado River. And what a sight to see!

This could be a very challenging route with very steep grades, high exposures and loose rock. This will be a slow day of hiking as taking our time and being aware will be crucial. There could be 2 creek crossings, if the water level and current conditions are doable. An alternative more exposed route is an option as needed which may add mileage to our total day if taken. 

DAY 3:   Approx 3.5miles / Approx 250ft Elevation Loss and 350 Elevation Gain 

Today’s journey will follow a faint unmaintained trail high above the Colorado River towards Deer Creek. The views along this stretch are exceptional to say the least! As we make our final descend into Deer Creek, marking the near end of our packs-on route, you will see a "desert oasis". This is truly a breathtaking oasis of epic proportions as you are surrounded by alluring and refreshing watering pools of which you can wade in. We can take our packs off and lounge for a few minutes on the "Patio" or set up camp down the way before taking a dip.

After setting up camp for the next two nights, we'll continued to explore past the Patio through the Deer Creek Narrows, a stunning stretch of sandstone canyon deeply incised by the creek to the mouth of Deer Creek. A shorter but steep descent back down to the Colorado River will allow us to play and swim in the chilly yet invigorating Deer Creek Falls. This hike promises to be spectacular...and one that you will more than likely want to repeat the next day!

DAY 4:  

This is YOUR DAY to explore and simply take in the stunning beauty of the Grand Canyon. It's a rest day in a relaxing oasis! Whether is just soaking your feet lounging on the Patio in this oasis or hiking a few additional miles scrambling up massive boulders to find yet another hidden waterfall...t's your day to enjoy! 

This will be our last day we have bountiful water available to us, so hydrate while you can! 

DAY 5:  5-6miles / 3,100ft Elevation Gain

We break camp early again this morning and head back up towards the Esplanade from the west side.  Half way up an enormous landslide of large boulders we will pass Deer Springs, being our last chance to water up for the hike across to Surprise Valley. After a few rest breaks in shaded boulder areas, you just may begin to recognize where you are. It's the Redwall of which we came down our second day. Count your switchbacks as you go up...there's only 72 of them before stepping foot back onto the Esplanade! 

Tonight’s camp will be somewhere along this slickrock wonderland, leaving a shorter hike back to the North Rim our last day. Enjoy some well-deserved rest and relaxation, after locating our cache to rehydrate. The sunsets here are breathtaking, as are the starry night skies...take it all in, it's your last night sleeping within the canyon. 

DAY 6:  Approx 4-5miles / 2,000ft Elevation Gain

Another hearty breakfast and a beautiful sunrise fingers crossed will start our sixth and final day. We will pack up camp early again before our final ascend to the rim to complete our lollipop loop hike. Frequent rests all the way up will afford plenty of opportunities to gaze back upon this indescribable landscape and remarkable accomplishment you've almost completed! We will have water and lunches waiting for you in the car at the trailhead. 

 

We will cache water in 2 places on this trip. One will be on day one, to utilize on our last night of camping and our final approximately 5hour ascent back to our cars. The other will be at the trail head for our last day out. The water that we cache in the canyon will be no less than 2 liters of water. Remember, we will already have “watered up” at Deer Springs where you should have no less than 4 litters of water for the climb up. 

The Grand Canyon Campsites are as follows: 

Night by Night Itinerary:
1. 04/26/2021 AY9 ESPLANADE, AT LARGE CAMPING
2. 04/27/2021 AW8 LOWER TAPEATS CAMP SITE
3. 04/28/2021 AX7 DEER CREEK CAMP SITE
4. 04/29/2021 AX7 DEER CREEK CAMP SITE
5. 04/30/2021 AY9 ESPLANADE, AT LARGE CAMPING
6. 05/01/2021 OUT Hiking Out

WHAT TO BRING:

April and May are a great month of the year to visit Grand Canyon as the temperatures inside the Canyon are fantastic. While the North Rim still has hints of winter and can even have winter storms, the inside of the Canyon is at its prime.

There is a fine line between Spring and Winter on the North Rim at this time of year. You will have to understand the Layering System and be prepared with GOOD traction Hiking Boots. We encourage you to consider bringing a pair of Hiking Crampons just in case we encounter ICE on the Bill Hall Trail. While it may be unlikely, we will be at 8,000 ft at the rim of the canyon and spring weather can be often unpredictable with snow storms in this high of elevation. The trail is very steep in this section and will require extra care if conditions become slick. While it is not required, it may come in use if weather dictates. If you think you will continue to hike on ice or snow further down the rim, another option but more expensive are the Kahtoola MICROspikes Footwear Traction  

We will only be in the high elevation for a half of day going down, and half a day going up. 

Personal Clothing:

 Hiking boots – Need to be well broken in!! This is not the route to "test out" your new trail runners or boots.  Mid-weight boots with ankle support are best for this route. 
 Sport sandals – consider Keen®, Teva® or Chaco® brands. These are for camp comfort as well as fording through strong currents/water. 
 Lightweight long pants/trousers – for sun protection and warmth during cooler parts of the day (the best long pants are the one’s that zip at the knee to make them shorts). Lightweight shorts can also be brought as backup for hiking in the canyon, swimming or lounging at Deer Creek.
 1 bathing suit  Optional. We will be spending a rest day in and around water pools/waterfalls in the lower canyon near/at the Colorado River. 
 2 pair of Underwear – Men’s – Women’s
 2 tee shirts – Women’s *1 cotton is great for warm weather hiking in heat, and 1 nylon/synthetic is best for chillier temps/rim hiking *This is the only time cotton is good for hot desert hiking where water is found. 
 2 pairs of hiking socks – consider Smartwool®, Fox River® or similar. NO cotton socks! Synthetic or wool is best.
 Lightweight jacket or sweater –  for warmth. Fleece or down is excellent and lightweight! Expect temps to drastically fall at night. Could reasonably get down to 35 degrees or lower. OR Puffy Jacket.
 Rain shell – lightweight & breathable Men’s – Women’s

 Smartwood or Merino Wool base layer for overnight sleep wear

 Wide brim hat - Baseball hats are discouraged unless you partnering this with a buff - the back of your neck needs to be protected.
 Sunglasses - Optional, yet encouraged

Spring/Fall/Winter (Mid October to April):

Spring, fall and winter temperatures vary greatly from day to night and from sun to shade. The day time temperatures can be warm with the night temperatures dropping near or below freezing. It’s best to be prepared for both warm days and cool nights. Dressing in layers is the key to warmth and comfort. Actual temps in the Grand Canyon will feel much warmer and chillier than number indicates. 

 **Warm hat or beanie & gloves (gloves are optional)
 **Down jacket or additional fleece (see above)
 **1 long sleeve synthetic or wool shirt – baselayer insulation (midweight)

Personal Items:

 Toothbrush and toothpaste (travel size)
 A small packet of toilet paper and trowel. We will expect that you practice LNT as required by regulation. There will be two available pit toilets in route (Upper Tapeats Creek and Deer Creek). Do not anticipate these to be stocked with TP. Solid waste can be buried in a proper cathole, though ALL toilet paper MUST be packed out with you (or appropriate items only can then be disposed of at the pit toilets where available). 
 Sunblock cream (SPF 30 or higher)
 First Aid and Personal medication (ibuprofen, antihistamine, antacid, burn cream, blister care etc). If you suffer from severe allergic reactions, it is highly encourage to bring an Epi Pen due to scorpion and bee activity in the canyon. Please also bring a whistle that you can keep on your person at all times. 

Mandatory Gear:

 At least a 65 Liter Backpack (this is to ensure enough capability for water storage caching into the canyon)
 Capacity to carry 7-8 liters of water (we recommend a 3 liter hydration pack for ease of sipping plus (2) one liter water bottle). All cached water will NEED to be in durable hard-shell Nalgene-type water bottles for caching on our first day. 
 Headlamp 
 30 Degree Down Sleeping Bag. Synthetic is okay though discouraged due to being a little heavier. 

 Sleeping Pad
 Lightweight Tent
Free standing tents are encourages as long as they are lightweight, though not required. The Esplanade (camp 2-nights) will offer slight challenges to non-free standing tents due to the terrain being mostly rock and protected soil. Though use of rocks rather than stakes or "cowboy camping" alternative set ups are an option. 
 Hiking Poles
 Stove and Cookware
 Water Filtratio
n

 Rodent Proof food storage bag / optional short rope (for appropriate tie off to bush) - Food storage must have interlocking steel wire mesh lining. Outsak, Ratsak and Ursack are examples of this. You will likely encounter rodents/mammals such as mice, rock squirrels, chipmunks and ringtails at our campsites. All food and items with a scent must be secured in this sack. 

Additional Items:

 Camera and re-chargeable use for all electronic devices - you will likely take A LOT of photos on this trip be prepared! 
 Lip balm and Sunscreen
 Bandana or Buff - Good to use as a cloth. Alternatively keep sweat out of your eyes, use as neck protection or dip in water to cool off)
 Knee brace (if you have known knee concerns, a lightweight knee support is encouraged to further protect from impact on this route)

 

Fires are not permitted in the canyon, therefore products to enhance fire starting is not necessary. 

We will provide the rope needed for proper packs-off assistance as indicated in the trail itinerary. 

We will have one-on-one GEAR calls with each of you and then additionally performing a FINAL physical pack shake down in person before the trip begins. You are encouraged to continue to discuss gear questions with us prior to, as needed. 

Food prep for the backpacking only portion of this trip should include the need for 5 breakfasts/ 6 lunches and enough snacks for full 6 days/ 5 dinners. Please reference Trip Itinerary details to assist in planning accordingly.  You will be camping at available water sources for 3 of the 5 nights. Please also plan for a sufficient yet easy to prep breakfast on Day 1 (we will be leaving the lodge, with approximately a 1.5hr drive to the TH). 

Water:

In warm months each hiker should carry and drink about a gallon (4 liters) of water per day. Watch your "ins and outs". Drink enough so that urine frequency, clarity, and volume are normal. You are not drinking enough water if your urine is dark, small in quantity, or non-existent in the course of a day's hiking. In addition, eating adequate amounts of food will help you replace the electrolytes (salts) that you are sweating.

Starting our hike, DAY 1: Beginning at the trail head, we will have 7.5 Liters of water in our packs.
3 Liters to cook and drink with to our campsite that night. 2 Liters to cache for the hike back up on Friday (Day 6).  2 Liters of water for the following days hike to Thunder River. And at least 2 bottles of water (.5 Liters) tucked into pack. We have water sources at Tapeats Creek, Colorado River, Deer Creek. 

By mid-April, winter weather usually begins to break, and although snow is not uncommon in May, warm spells become more frequent. The winter cold gives way to a warming and pleasant spring period with average high temperatures gradually rising from the 50s and 60s (10-21°C) in April through the 70s to 80s (21-32°C) by June along the Rim, and from the 80s (27-32°C) in April to near 105 (41°C) by June along the river. Low temperatures will typically fall below freezing on the Rim in April and May and warm into the 40s (4-9°C) by June, with low temperatures from the 50s (10-15°C) in April to the 70s (21-26°C) by June along the river. Spring is typically breezy to windy with winds occasionally gusting over 40 mph (18 m/s) and dry with little precipitation occurring in May and early June. Due to the very dry airmass typical of the late spring months, late season frosts and freezes are still a possibility, with sub freezing temperatures being recorded as late as July at the North Rim. Snowfall has been reported as late as the middle of June.

Average Temperatures in the Inner Canyon

 

JAN

FEB

MAR

APR

MAY

JUN

JUL

AUG

SEP

OCT

NOV

DEC

High (F)

56

62

71

82

92

101

106

103

97

84

68

57

Low (F)

36

42

48

56

63

72

78

75

69

58

46

37

High (C)

13

17

22

28

33

38

41

39

36

29

20

14

Low (C)

2

6

9

13

17

22

26

24

21

14

8

2

Average Temperatures at the North Rim

 

JAN

FEB

MAR

APR

MAY

JUN

JUL

AUG

SEP

OCT

NOV

DEC

High (F)

37

39

44

53

62

73

77

75

69

59

46

40

Low (F)

16

18

21

29

34

40

46

45

39

31

24

20

High (C)

3

4

7

12

17

23

25

24

21

15

8

4

Low (C)

-9

-8

-6

-2

1

4

8

7

4

-1

-4

-7

Phone Numbers:

North Kaibab Ranger District of the Kaibab National Forest at 928-643-7395.
Grand Canyon National Park (928) 638-7888
Backcountry Information Center: (928) 638-7875 between 1 pm and 5 pm Monday through Friday

There are some area's of our route that will require you to remove your pack and rope it down with the assistance of Scott & Ariane. There are 2 technical sections that are not hard, but will take time. Patience is the key as we will average 1 mile per hour most of our trip. 

We will be meeting at Jacobs Lake Lodge

For those Flying in and Renting a car. 

You may want to make sure you car has 4 wheel drive and can handle a Forest Road. Most of these roads are good, but in wet weather can be muddy. 

The best Airport with the best prices will be Phoenix AZ. We found it to be the best place to rent a car also. 

CAR RENTAL RESERVATION NUMBER
L7244235 Dollar Rental
866-434-2226
Quoted 353.99
15% added if debit card

We will be staying here for 14 days: GPS: 36.734933, -112.199533
Elevation: 7694' 

The best Flagstaff Hotel we found was: 

Best Western Pony Soldier
3030 East Route 66
Flagstaff (Arizona), AZ 86004
(928) 526-2388

Best Supplies for Backpacking Gear including Food is:

REI Address: 323 S Windsor Ln, Flagstaff, AZ 86001 Phone: (928) 213-1914

Camping:

There is the Kaibab National Forest that has plenty of open Camping. for those who are coming in a RV or Van

PHONE: (928) 643-7232

EMAIL: jacob@jacoblake.com

 

ADDRESS

HWY 89A & AZ-67
Jacob Lake, AZ 86022

​BUSINESS HOURS

Mon-Sun 7:30am - 9:00pm

Buses and Group Reservations

Please call (928) 643-7232

Bookings

This event is fully booked.

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In 2003 I completed a Thru-Hike on the Appalachian Trail. Since then I have over 12,000 miles underfoot and 20 years of backpacking, and camping experience. Certifications include WFA, WFR, LNT Trainer, and belong to AORE. Have been guiding backpacking trips for over 10 years. The outdoors has taught me one thing. Trusting the Trail! really does provide everything a person needs.

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