Deer Creek out-and-back (Grand Canyon NP)

fossana

Member
Joined
Jan 11, 2018
Messages
515
DSC00951crop.jpg

Well, third time is a charm. After an exhausting week in NYC for work (time difference + inability to sleep through city noise), I took Bert's advice from the weekend prior and attempted to take the winter route to Monument Point and Bill Hall trailhead. Indeed the roads were in fairly good condition, and the trip was uneventful.

Logistics
Start/end: Monument Point/Bill Hall trailhead
Mileage: ~20 miles
Elevation gain: 5250 ft +
Difficulty: class 3 (a few spots)
Navigation: Map is useful. Some junctions are marked.
Filterable water: reliable water at Deer Creek; may be some water on the esplanade after rains
Designation: Grand Canyon National Park
Fees: none
Nearest town/gas: Fredonia, AZ
Date hiked: 21 Apr 2019
Approach notes: All online directions I found reference FSR 425, but this holds snow late into the spring. There is an alternate lower elevation winter route leaving FSR22 at FSR447 (as if approaching Kanab Creek Wilderness), then joining FSR 425 at a lower elevation. Recommend BLM's Arizona Strip Map for navigation given the maze of Forest Service roads.


Approximate Route
map.png


Trip Report
My plan was to hike to Deer Creek and maybe traverse over to Thunder River. I wasn't sure if I had lost my acclimatization or how rugged the linkup was (or exactly where it was), so I left myself the option of an out-and-back. I started up the trail from Bill Hall, which first climbs to Monument Point before descending many hundred feet to the esplanade. You'll get to make up that extra elevation on the way back. The views were immediately spectacular, with wildflowers and juniper-topped red and white banded mesas. Bill Hall trail weaves its way through a cliff band below Monument Point, then contours NW to zigzag down a gentler slope. Along the way I stopped to admire the marine fossils in the limestone talus chute through which the trail passed. Hard to imagine much of this was under the ocean at one point in time.

DSC00797.jpg DSC00800.jpg DSC00802.jpg

I passed the junction to Indian Hollow (the longer, but less steep option), then the trail flattened out on the esplanade. Despite the past few weeks of toasty (for spring) temps, there was still standing water in some of the potholes. I passed several parties of backpackers on their way out of the Big Ditch. After a few miles of esplanade the trail dropped through another cliff band into Surprise Valley.

DSC00808.jpg DSC00814.jpg DSC00818.jpg DSC00821.jpg DSC00825.jpg

I passed the Deer Creek/Thunder River junction and dropped down the drainage toward Deer Spring. As I walked along the dry creek bed the cliff walls grew taller and more Grand Canyonesque in appearance. Soon, however, my solitude would come to an end.

DSC00837.jpg DSC00840.jpg DSC00847.jpg

At the first dramatic fall, the rafting crowds started to appear. Most people were courteous, but a number made little effort to move aside as they slowly shuffled down the trail. I headed toward the river where I thought the traverse to Thunder River was (there wasn't much information online about exactly where it was from the Deer Creek side, nor was it on my USGS-based maps).
DSC00856.jpg DSC00867.jpg DSC00871.jpg DSC00874.jpg


I passed the lovely Deer Creek patio/narrows and fall, and saw that there were ~10 rafts tied up along the shoreline (which explained the hordes of people). I spotted a few cairns heading SE, but there wasn't an obvious trail and the going was slow with the steep rugged terrain. At this point it was getting warm and I decided it was more than I wanted to undertake, having to drive home that night and work the next day. So I turned around, filtered water, and mentally prepared for the crowds.
DSC00885.jpg DSC00889.jpg DSC00891.jpg

I thought I would be more tired than I was on the long ascent. At Surprise Valley I passed the last and the most clueless of the rafting parties (Peeps homage to them below). One guy thought I might be lost since I was "heading in the wrong direction". As I climbed through the red wall, the clouds started to roll in and the wind picked up, which took the edge off of the afternoon heat.
DSC00908.jpg DSC00910.jpg DSC00916.jpg


Back at the esplanade it looked like it might rain, despite no precipitation in the forecast. I was hoping that meant light rain (if any) since the roads are notoriously sketchy in muddy conditions. I passed a few friendly backpacking groups on their way in.
DSC00919.jpg DSC00932.jpg DSC00933.jpg DSC00939.jpg


When I hit the Indian Hollow trail junction, I knew it was the final push to Monument Point. From here, the first part of the climb was the most relentless, with almost no switchbacks, but then the grade eased. Despite my recent work trip I was feeling reasonably energetic, and made decent time back to my car. The rain remained light, fortunately, on my drive home.
DSC00942.jpg DSC00951.jpg


Epilogue
When I got home I did more digging into where the traverse to Thunder River is. The only place I found it was on CalTopo Map Builder, where it appears ~0.5M up from the Colorado River. Another time.
 

Ugly

Life really is better Here
.
Joined
Apr 20, 2013
Messages
814
Nice. I am impressed with what you conquer in a day. Even with what had to be a pretty early start to drive there too.

Murdered blue peep, and all those yellow flowers in bloom. Plus you caught pics of fossils and a great one of Monument point, all while eating up over 20 miles... Nice.

Sad that you missed Thunder gushing out of the redwall, it is impressive.
 

fossana

Member
Joined
Jan 11, 2018
Messages
515
nice!!! I've never really been to Grand Canyon and love all the hikes you do. I love doing long day hikes so this is something I might do one day.

Thanks, Yvonne! You should check it out; you're even closer to the N Rim than me. It's only a few hours drive to the trailheads.
 

Miya

Because I am able.
.
Joined
Dec 31, 2017
Messages
1,231
Wow! I am really happy to see all that water!
Poor little peep...
 
Similar threads
Thread starter Title Forum Replies Date
cmgz Grand Canyon-Bill Hall Trail to Thunder River and Deer Creek Backpacking 6
TIMP Grand Canyon Bill Hall Trailhead to Deer Creek Falls and Thunder Spring General Discussion 3
B Thorofare loop from Deer Creek Trip Planning 20
S Deer Creek into the Thorofare Trip Planning 6
Eugene Monument Point to Thunder River and Deer Creek Backpacking 9
Jackson Question about Deer Creek Trip Planning 2
Mr. Me Deer Creek to Dry Creek Trail #43 Everything Else 3
Nick Deer Creek Ice-Off On The Water 12
NorthwestWanderer Washington - 4x4 to Bear Lake & Little Deer Pass Off Road 0
Ugly Snowy Dawn Traverse on Deer Ridge Hiking & Camping 6
J Dayhikes GSENM, Cap Reef, Behind the Rocks: Deer Cr, Tanks, Sheets Gulch, Moab Rim Apr. 4 to 8, 2018 Hiking & Camping 0
natylka Bald Mountain at Deer Park-July 2014 Hiking & Camping 0
Howells Outdoors XC Ski at Southern Utah's Deer Valley Winter Sports 3
Howells Outdoors Cross-country Ski at Deer Valley Hiking & Camping 8
gnwatts Deer Canyon, Cedar Mesa Hiking & Camping 2
S Packrafting Escalante - FiftyMile Creek and low water level Lake Powell Trip Planning 3
Laura V. Four Days in Salt Creek Canyon, April 2021 Backpacking 14
BackpackingtheSierras Republic Pass Trail North Absaroka into Yellowstone Cache Creek and Lamar River Trip Planning 1
futurafree Muddy Creek and Kane/Bullet Trip Planning 10
travel2walk trip report: Wind River Range – Ross Lakes, Bear Basin, Grasshopper Glacier, & Dinwoody Creek loop, Aug-Sep 2020 Trip Reports 26
regehr Millers Creek General Discussion 0
Laura V. Bears in Salt Creek Canyon, Canyonlands Trip Planning 76
Lowro Tourist Creek, WRR Trip Planning 12
Bushwacker West Clear Creek Ruin Hiking & Camping 2
Miya Beach Backpacking and Creek Bed Sleeping Backpacking 29
norwegianxplorer Summiting Mount Whitney from Guitar Lake, 6 Days backpacking the Sierra before the Creek Fire closed everything down. Backpacking 5
scatman Cache Creek, Yellowstone National Park - September 10, 2020 Backpacking 8
norwegianxplorer Sequoia National Park just before the Creek Fire Backpacking 6
P Salt Creek water Backpacking 2
Arizona Jones Wet Beaver Creek Arizona, Backpack Trip Backpacking 8
B Thorofare loop (almost) Cabin Creek, Hawk's Rest, Ishawooa Creek 8/11-19 Backpacking 55
scatman Pebble Creek, Yellowstone National Park - August 14, 2020 Backpacking 42
norwegianxplorer Greater Yellowstone part 2, from the Headwaters of Yellowstone River, through the Thorofare, Overlook Mountain, Rampart Creek Backpacking 9
NorthwestWanderer Backpacking the Lost River Range in Idaho : Bear Creek Lake & Upper Basin Backpacking 7
andyjaggy Deep Creek Lakes and Windriver Peak Trip Planning 6
regehr "Sulphur Creek is flashing" Canyoneering 0
ramblinman Boulder Creek Day Hike, Escalante National Monument Hiking & Camping 5
norwegianxplorer Muddy Creek 6 day backpacking loop with My Own Frontier Backpacking 5
S Hansen Creek Rio Grande NF Conejos River Trip Planning 3
NorthwestWanderer 3 days in Idaho/Oregon's Hells Canyon: Pittsburgh Landing to Willow Creek Backpacking 2
I Water in Frisky Creek south of Highway 12 in the Grand Staircase? Trip Planning 0
RyanP Coyote Gulch to Halls Creek via Stevens Canyon Trip Planning 28
Blake Merrell Fossil Creek Backpacking 10
ram A Christmas Pine Creek/Keyhole Canyoneering 1
Kullaberg63 Pack Creek to Castle Valley - below the rim. Backpacking 0
westy Fishhawk Creek, Washakie Wilderness Area Trip Planning 4
Blake Merrell Clear Creek Reservoir On The Water 6
P West fork of Salt Creek? Trip Planning 4
Tim Valentine Big Pine Creek Eastern Sierra Backpacking 10
scatman Whetstone Creek, Teton Wilderness - October 11-14, 2019 Backpacking 19

Similar threads

Don't like ads? Become a BCP Supporting Member and kiss them all goodbye. Click here for more info.

Top