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North Canyon - Marble Canyon

Summary: An off trail hike down a little visited drainage in the Marble Canyon area of the Grand Canyon.
Directions: From Flagstaff drive north on Highway 89. Turn left on Highway 89A towards Jacob Lake and follow it across the Navajo Bridge. Turn left on a dirt road just past mile post 557. Zero the trip meter on your car and head south on this dirt road. In 2.1 miles bear left at a road junction and cattle guard, at 3.3 miles stay left again. At 4.6 miles you'll reach the Kram Ranch, turn right and pass through a fence. The road heads south for about a half mile then bends east. At 5.6 miles you'll reach another fork, stay left and continue driving. You'll pass a few signs in this section urging you to protect the Brady Pincushion Cactus which grows along the rim in this part of Marble Canyon (please keep your vehicle on established roads). At 7.6 miles pull to the side of the road at an unremarkable bare patch of ground (GPS: 12S 425699mE 4052556mN).
Road Conditions: Passenger Car (if roads are dry)
Navigation: Moderate - a little route finding to get into the canyon, then it's easy
Length: ~12 miles
Date Hiked: October, 2004
Weather Conditions: Grey and drizzly
Required Skills: None
Hike Description: From the road, walk southwest through the scrub brush and look for a minor drainage that will enable you to get down into the canyon. Make a rock pile where you enter the drainage so that you know where to come out again when on the return trip. Begin walking down the wide gravel strewn wash. It's easy, flat walking at first as you pass between moderately tall cliffs on either side. As the canyon deepens, the drainage becomes wider and the filled with large boulders. Progress becomes slower due to the climbing and route finding required to navigate through the boulder field. After several hours the dark red Supai layer appears underfoot and the walking becomes easier. Soon the drainage begins descending steeply through the Supai. There are several pour offs that can be bypassed on one side or the other, then a larger pour off that can be bypassed using a breakdown pile on canyon left (the left side of the canyon when facing down stream). Just beyond this is a short slide into a pool (don't go down without rope though) followed by a sheer drop which I estimate at ~120 feet. Unless you're prepared for a technical descent, this is where you turn around (if you are prepared, there are two large boulders in the pool above this drop that could be used for an anchor).
Rating (1-5 stars):
The author and his wife completed the hike to the Supai pour off and back in 6.5 hours.
I plan to return at some point in the future with rope and ascending/descending gear and attempt to make it all the way down to the river.
Maps: Click here for a map of the hike.
Books:  None
Photos: Click picture for larger view, click your browser's 'Back' button to return to this page.
Much of the upper wash looks
just like this.
As you head down canyon
the boulders become larger.
A small pour off in the Supai. Cross bedded sandstone.
Nearing the end of the hike. This pour off will block your progress.