Kanab Creek - Grand Canyon - Cranberry - Fishtail Mesa Loop

Bob

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Mar 3, 2013
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Needed a short hike for the spring. Settled on a rerun what we hiked 14 years ago but with a twist. Previously we hiked from Bill Hall TH to Deer Creek Falls to Kanab Creek and out Snake Gulch. This time we were going to try the Cranberry Route and over Fishtail Mesa pass.....
Here is a video, make sure you switch to HD:


Some pics:
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Day 1: Drive to Sowats Point TH. A long 49 miles from Fredonia, AZ. Had to take the low route as still snow on high road. Was going to be short hiking day ( miles). Very good trail switchbacking down. Nice views. Headed off the main trail at Kwagunt canyon and camped early just upstream from Jumpup canyon.
Day 2: Headed out lazily, down Jumpup. Hiked up into the Indian Hollow canyon narrows for a ways then back on track. There was some water in the crack in Jumpup, but we didn’t need any. The junction of Kanab Creek and Jumpup was hot and dry. Headed on down Kanab Creek, destination was the Shower Bath Spring area for the night. Hit flowing water at about miles, not many big rocks through this section. Great campsite up higher on the left bench just before the spring.

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Day 3: Another slow start, no hurry. Just needed to get to Whispering Falls for the day. Scotty’s Castle is neat. Hiked a ways up Sotty’s Hollow a ways. Really nice waterfalls. Saw bighorn sheep and wild bee honeycombs here. Headed on down Kanab Creek, some rough going for a couple of miles through this section, with lots of large boulders. Key in bypassing by climbing is don’t go to high above the river. Probably the toughest section. Camped on a low bench just across from Whispering Falls canyon. Whispering Falls and the pool is nice. Get there in middle of day to enjoy, it’s warmer. The pool by the falls is crystal clear and about 15 ft deep.

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Day 4: Tried to get an early start, hah …. needed to make camp at Fishtail Rapids on the Colorado river. Uneventful hiking in this section of Kanab Creek…..except the limestone rocks are really sharp….grabbed one while slipping and ripped a 2” gash in my finger, lots of blood….light weight leather gloves would be nice! This section is very colorful, with high walls and neat overhangs. Saw trout in the 16” range, unusual. A half mile or so near the confluence we started seeing a lot of BIG carp and suckers some looking over 20”. Looked like spawning season. As we hit the beach at the Colorado we met a private rafting group. After about a hour of relaxing/swimming we headed towards Fishtail Rapids. Lots of large rocks, really no trail to negotiate and most of the going was really slow and HOT. Seems like the route we picked was always up and down. Decided the sand beaches that always suckered us in were not the easiest way. Pick your route that stays about 50 to 100 ft from water line. This section of the Colorado river gets the sun all day long. We made it to camp tired and at dusk. The next day was shaping up to be a killer…the climb up the Cranberry canyon route.
Day 5: Headed along the Colorado River on a good use trail that heads to Deer Creek Falls. It climbs above the tapeats cliffs and as soon as the trail started back down to the river we veered up, off the trail, towards the Cranberry slope. Eventually there is a bench that is easy hiking until the huge ravine youhave to cross, very steep sided with loose rock. After crossing the ravine we were on the correct slope to access the Cranberry crack, about 2000 ft above us in the redwall. This slope is about the angle of repose, but the rock is pretty stable, just slow going picking your route up. When you reach the redwall it gets really steep up to the crack, take the left center one. It is now near vertical but with decent hand/footholds (if you don’t have a sliced finger) for about 20ft. A short distance you come to a vertical section, this is the crux. It’s about 20ft as well and not real good holds, but doable. We chickened out….sent one guy up to belay the rest of us. If you fell here you probably would get banged up and wouldn’t go all the way to the river. We were glad we were going up and not down. The talus slope above the redwall you need to cross is really steep and hard dirt, really exposed. We went up to just below the next cliff band and traversed left on a narrow shelf around the alcove then dropped elevation. This section had the worst pucker factor. About a half a mile around and you finally hit flat ground. The view from here up and down the Canyon is one of the best there is. This would be a great campsite but for the wind and no water. We headed up Cranberry canyon, light on water and the sun getting lower. Made camp at the drip spring and even had potholes nearby to resupply. It was easy walking on numerous use trails until the bench pinches off and you hike a short distance in the canyon bottom. Everyone was out early for the night.

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Day 6: Headed up the bottom of Cranberry canyon, the left fork, fairly decent boulder hopping in this section, not tough. Some pretty neat hoodoos at the head of the canyon. Headed cross country towards the mushroom like rock that hides the Ghost figures and an old cowboy camp. Spent a little time there cooling off. Then it was off, a long hike across the esplanade headed for the saddle at Fishtail Mesa. It was easy walking along flat benches, keeping at the same elevation. Nice views, the canyon is wide here. Stay on these benches, if you get to high near the talus slope up there is a steep ravine blocking the way. The slope is steep, angle of repose, as well…but there is a decent use trail up. A sketchy narrow trail traverses across to the saddle. We took some time here soaking in the view. Dropping off the back there is no trail and its brushy and fairly steep, but not like the other side. As soon as you get to the bottom the wash is sandy and decent walking. We wanted to make the turn up Indian Hollow so the hike out the next day wouldn’t be too late. It was a good push, there were some inviting campsites along this stretch with sporadic water. Passed one pouroff but it had a way around. Turning up Indian Hollow there are a pouroff and rock falls to climb up, after that a deluxe campsite. Just what we needed after a long day.

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Day 7: The make it to the truck day. Just past camp there is a climb on the left to bypass a large pouroff. A little farther and the route takes you left up to the flats that head back towards Sowats canyon. It’s pretty much just contour around for a few miles, staying on benches. There are some interesting canyons and rock formations along the way. We could see Indian Hollow springs, but didn’t go there. We intersected Kwagunt canyon at about the same elevation the Sowats trail crosses. Then it’s back up the switchbacks gaining the rest of your elevation to the trailhead. After snacks, water and rest from the climb, the drive to Kanab for a decent meal was short..... All in all another great trip. Weather was perfect. Water was plentiful. Company was great.

NOTE: The route up the Cranberry crack and across the alcove is VERY exposed, it is NOT for the novice.

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Dan

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Feb 24, 2012
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454
awesome! so much good stuff in that area of the canyon. i love whispering falls...

but i will always hate the cranberry. done it a few times now. the last time i fell very ill, almost didn't make it out.

i need to scratch that grand canyon itch again soon. :twothumbs:
 

slc_dan

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Jun 7, 2012
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wow!

I really need to get down in "THEE" canyon.
 

Nick

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NICE!!! That looks like an awesome trip, love all the photos. Makes me sad I had to cancel my GC trip this spring but hopefully I'll be able to make up for it early next year. Thanks for posting!
 

Artemus

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Wow! Now the place and the place names are starting to mean more to me as I get more familiar. Big vert Bob! Makes even some of our Wind River adventures seem almost flat :facepalm:
 

Artemus

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Just talked to Pipe Springs N.M. and they DO permit for the GC (by actually calling the GC backcountry office) so great tip Jammer. They are only open 8-5 so have some of the same constraints as the BLM Interagency office in St. George but they are much more en route. Jammer and Bob, I am striving to be able to set my bag up on the rim at Kanab Point so I will continue to work towards the permit. If I fumble that ball I will use both your advice for camping probably farther north, on the rim of Kanab Creek, or even across the Kanab Creek at Sowatts Point where the difficult to get permits are unnecessary. Thanks for both your help! Stellar weather forecast and the Pipe Springs guy said the roads I am headin on have been graded this year. Maps and waypoints for the plateau loaded up. Stoked !
 

napatony13

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Feb 5, 2021
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Fantastic trip report and a great video, very well done! I'm itching to do Kanab Creek, but I'm usually solo so taking on the Cranberry is probably not the wisest move. I sure love those views though!
 

Bob

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You can go along the colorado to Deer Creek and out to that trailhead.....
 

napatony13

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Feb 5, 2021
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You can go along the colorado to Deer Creek and out to that trailhead.....
Thanks, that's an option. I did the DC/Tapeats loop a few years ago and was hoping to cover some new ground. I've also heard the walk along the River isn't a ton of fun. Maybe down Kanab and back up would be better, especially if solo and not being able to carpool between trailheads.
 

fossana

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Jan 11, 2018
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Thanks, that's an option. I did the DC/Tapeats loop a few years ago and was hoping to cover some new ground. I've also heard the walk along the River isn't a ton of fun. Maybe down Kanab and back up would be better, especially if solo and not being able to carpool between trailheads.
There's a very direct, semi-technical route into Kanab Creek starting with the canyoneers' approach to Scotty's Hollow. It's ~4th class in Scotty's, but with decent rock. It's written up in Grand Canyoneering, and was less of a screefest than I expected. I personally find the upper part of Jumpup Canyon to be a gravel slog, although it's good for those wishing to avoid exposure.

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napatony13

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There's a very direct, semi-technical route into Kanab Creek starting with the canyoneers' approach to Scotty's Hollow. It's ~4th class in Scotty's, but with decent rock. It's written up in Grand Canyoneering, and was less of a screefest than I expected. I personally find the upper part of Jumpup Canyon to be a gravel slog, although it's good for those wishing to avoid exposure.
Thanks, I will add that to my notes. I know that there's a nice petroglyph panel in Scotty's so that would be nice to see. I was going to ask you where you exited but I just noticed your trip report...I'm going to read that right now.
 

Bob

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There was a aluminum ladder coming off the top by the pass by fishtail mesa. Also a trail from indian CG.

Colorado river walk we thought was neat. Some sand some scree mostly not to steep...... Nothing extremely tough.... Tough is going up the cranberry .....
 

fossana

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Thanks, I will add that to my notes. I know that there's a nice petroglyph panel in Scotty's so that would be nice to see. I was going to ask you where you exited but I just noticed your trip report...I'm going to read that right now.
I didn't write a TR for the Scotty's trip. I did an out-and-back from the unmarked trailhead. The TR you saw used a different trailhead and has the gravel slog I mentioned. Routefinding is easier though and there's minimal exposure.
 

napatony13

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Feb 5, 2021
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I didn't write a TR for the Scotty's trip. I did an out-and-back from the unmarked trailhead. The TR you saw used a different trailhead and has the gravel slog I mentioned. Routefinding is easier though and there's minimal exposure.
Yeah I figured that out once I read it...I need to learn to read first, then comment. What time of year did you do Scotty's and how much water did you encounter?
 

Bob

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Mar 3, 2013
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Water in Kanab pretty much from snake gulch to colorado. ... For sure past Jump-up . Unless really dry.
Shower bath always water. Son may be in Jump-up the week of April 11...
 

Jeremy C

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Aug 27, 2014
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Gorgeous looking trip, never been down that area so it's all so foreign to me. So striking tho and soo much potential for not just hiking it looks like but photographically speaking. I dream of a trip down there hehe
 
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Kmatjhwy

Wilderness Wanderer
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Sep 23, 2016
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Now would love sometime to do an extended trip down in this canyon and the area. Maybe sometime now in the near future. Loved all the photos and everything.
 
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