||Day 1 - Waldron Trailhead
to South Bass Trailhead: Sort of a tedious road walk to begin this trip, but it's easy and
flat - a car shuttle would enable you to avoid this portion and cut a day off this hike.
From the car park at the Waldron Trailhead begin walking along the road past the
trail sign. After a short distance you will come to a 'T' intersection with a very
straight road (the same one closed to vehicles that you crossed earlier). Turn right
onto this road and walk to the end, ignoring any roads that branch to the left or right
along the way (about a 10 mile hike). At the end of the road you will come to the
Pasture Wash Ranger Station, turn right onto this dirt road and hike the final 3.6 miles
to the South Bass Trailhead, once again ignoring any side roads. Enjoy the view and
set up camp.
2 - South Bass Trailhead to as far as you get on the Tonto Plateau: Follow the South Bass
Trail down into the Canyon. The trail is easy to follow as it descends through the
upper portion of the canyon (several Indian ruins may be seen on the canyon walls to the
right as you descend). When you reach the Esplanade (as evidenced by the red rocky
sandstone) the trail becomes less distinct, but cairns mark the way (stay right where you
see stones marking a branch in the path). The trail follows the Esplanade for about
a mile then begins descending steeply into the break formed by Bass Creek. The trail
then follows Bass Creek on one side or the other down the drainage. As you continue
down the canyon you will first see large cairns on the left marking the Tonto Trail
heading west then a few minutes later cairns on the right which mark the Tonto Trail
heading east, turn right on the latter. You are now on the Tonto Trail which, for
the most part, sits atop the Bright Angel Shale. After a few hours of hiking you
will become used to it's idiosynchracies. The trail typically winds around a flat
section along the Tonto Plateau cuts in at a drainage where the trail then becomes quite
rocky, drops into a drainage and climbs steeply out again - then repeats the process.
The trail is very faint in places, but cairns mark the way fairly well (besides
it's hard to get lost with a sheer drop off to the Colorado to the left and an unclimbable
wall to the right). The first major drainage you will come to is Serpentine Canyon
which had running water when the author was there. The next two drainages are
unnamed. The fourth drainage is Ruby Canyon, which contained a few pot holes with
water. The author hiked for another hour after crossing Ruby and made camp on the Le
Conte Plateau. Total walk time was 9 1/2 hours with a distance of ~12 miles (either
because of time wasted site seeing or the difficulty of the decent or that the mileage
provided by the Park Service was off, it seemed to take longer to cover this distance than
it should have - go figure).
Day 3 - Tonto Plateau to Boucher
Creek: This hike is a continuation of the second half of day 2. You will continue
east along the Tonto Trail going in and out of several major drainages in succession.
Canyons crossed along the way are (in order): Turquoise, Sapphire, Agate, Slate and
finally Boucher. When the author performed this hike (during a particularly dry
winter) water was available in Sapphire Canyon, the others were dry. The trail is
mostly flat except for the sections where you are descending or climbing out of a drainage
(most of the time) and ranges from the smooth, soft shale of the Bright Angel formation to
rocky break down as you enter and exit canyons. After your decent into Boucher Creek
(water available year round) you can either camp near the stream or follow the creek down
to the Colorado and camp on the beach. To camp at the creek, head upstream a ways
until you see cairns on the left hand side and the continuation of the Tonto Trail.
There are several good campsites in the vicinity. Total walk time was 10 hours with
a distance of ~18 miles traveled.
Day 4 - Boucher Creek to Waldron
Trailhead: From Boucher Creek, follow the cairns steeply up out of the stream bed.
At the cairned intersection with the Tonto Trail bear right and continue on the Boucher
Trail. The trail climbs (very) steeply up through some breakdown in the muav,
temple butte and redwall limestones to top out at a saddle below Whites Butte. After
rounding a corner the trail again ascends steeply this time through the red Supai
formation. From here you will walk the next several miles on top of the Supai
group. This section of trail is quite exciting and one of the best hikes around with
perilous drop offs to your left, sheer walls to your right and some spectacular views into
the Canyon. After a while you will enter a drainage and arrive at an intersection
with the Dripping Springs Trail, continue left on Boucher. After some more
strolling you will come to the intersection with the Hermit Trail. Turn right onto
the Hermit which you will follow up a steep section for a short ways before turning right
onto the signed Waldron Trail. Follow the somewhat overgrown Waldron Trail through a
nice level area before beginning your steep climb once again. This section of trail
is a nice change from most of the other rocky, dusty highways through the upper layers of
the Canyon. It is a narrow dirt/gravel footpath which switchbacks it's way up
through a forested drainage. Once you reach what you think is the top, there is
another short climb, then follow the drainage left a short ways back to the
Trailhead and your vehicle. Total walk time was 7 hours with a distance of ~11.5
miles (estimated, I haven't found actual mileage for the Waldron Trail).