Clear Creek Trail

HARD 7 reviews
#41 of 94 trails in

Clear Creek Trail is a 30.6 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Grand Canyon, Arizona that offers scenic views and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until November.

DISTANCE
30.6 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
8772 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

backpacking

birding

camping

hiking

nature trips

trail running

walking

views

rocky

no shade

no dogs

An extended backpack trip of four to six days deep within the Grand Canyon. NOTE: The starting point for Clear Creek Trail, Bright Angel Campground, is in a remote location away from a trailhead. The shortest, fastest way to Bright Angel Campground is from the South Kaibab trailhead following the South Kaibab Trail. The Road to Yaki Point and the South Kaibab trailhead is closed to private vehicles. Therefore, hikers must ride the free Kaibab Trail Route Shuttle bus, which departs every fifteen minutes from Canyon View Information Plaza. Carry plenty of water for the long trek to Clear Creek - the only reliable water on the trail. Clear Creek is a fascinating, off-the-beaten-track destination that deserves several days to explore.

backpacking
3 months ago

I’d always wanted to take this trail after visiting the Phantom Ranch area on my first backpacking trip to Grand Canyon. The lure of that trail taking off across the north Tonto platform excited my imagination. Where did it lead? What was at the other end?

I took a solo trip of five days in January to find out. I’m going to skip the corridor portion of this hike, since it’s so well known.

If you’re looking for solitude without having to drive to a remote trailhead, Clear Creek is a good choice. Once you depart Phantom Ranch, you’ll see few people. And once you reach the Tonto, you might be lucky enough to find yourself totally alone for a couple of days.

Depending on the time of day, you’ll experience different hikes. For me, departing my camp just past the cairns as the sun was coming up, I walked alternately through sun and shade, rising and falling with the contouring trail as it moved into and out of washes and canyons.

Throughout my walk, I experienced exceptional views of Grand Canyon’s prominences surrounding me, and of the Colorado river below. Yucca and cactus of several species dot the landscape. Along the way, an eight point buck passed on the slope above me.

The route rises overall until it reaches the bright orange Hakatai shale above Clear Creek, where the trail narrows to sometimes as little as four boots wide, and begins a 600’ descent into Clear Creek Canyon. This section of the trail is filled with loose, broken bits of rock, and though not excessively dangerous, should be taken with care.

At the bottom of the switchbacks, I reached a trickle of a drainage that feeds Clear Creek. The trail was a little difficult to find, and may actually have been washed out, but following the creek leads to several obvious campsites. There were no food storage boxes, but there is a primitive toilet.

Several of the campsites are near the creek itself. The water is clean and cool (but make sure you treat your drinking water). The sound is relaxing, and makes for a wonderful stay.

Clear Creek can be windy place. The air races up and down the canyon, trying to equalize pressure. Plan ahead and make sure you have enough guy line for your tent.

Leaving the canyon, I faced the climb up the switchbacks, but was clear of them in 45 minutes. In another three hours, I had covered the remaining ~6 miles back to the cairns. It was way too early to make camp, and I continued another hour down to the Bright Angel ranger station where I secured a site at the campground.

This is a trail I’ll definitely return to do again, planning on spending an extra day or so at Clear Creek to explore Cheyava Falls up creek, or the drainage into the Colorado river below.

hiking
5 months ago

I absolutely love this trail. You climb maybe 1000 feet the 1st mile and a half and get to Phantom Ranch overlook and then the rest is just a gentle up and down over the course of about the next 3 miles. I stopped four an a half miles in from the trail marker. The trail is very easy hiking with great views the whole way. I did not get to the sketchy part that I hear is more near the end but would love to go back and go the whole way to Clear Creek and then down to the Colorado. Bring plenty of water. They were River beds but they were dry when I hiked the other day, end of November. From the trail marker that says clear creek trail no camping 2 miles in (which is .5 miles up the north Kaibab Trail from Phantom Ranch).. I would estimate it was about 8 miles to Clear Creek which could easily be done in one day considering not much elevation gain. Then probably another 5 miles down the Colorado I’m guessing from there.

11 months ago

Beautiful view! I recommend taking 3-5 days to hike the Clear Creek Trail. If you want to spend some down time in the Grand Canyon aim for the 5 day hike. If you hike Clear Creek you would want to stay your first night at Phantom Ranch or the bright angel Campground. your second night would either be out at Clear Creek or else along one of the campgrounds along the Tonto Plateau or the bright angel shale layer. the third night would be on the return trip and it would either be in Phantom Ranch or Bright Angel Campground or else for those who are more inclined to do more miles to hike out Indian Gardens Campground and then hike out the following day on the Bright Angel Trail.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

hiked clear creek from bright angel camp ground. Great hike, great views, but traveled through the heat of the day. The sun was very hot, and just barely had enough water to make it to the camp ground. I was a little worried about a water source, but was very relieved at the sight of the green cotton woods, and sound of the running water. I only spent 1 night, and regret that decision, i wish we stayed longer.

hiking
Friday, March 14, 2014

Another of my favorite hikes. I did South Kaibab to Bright Angel Campground where I spent my first night then I went to Clear Creek and spent two nights there. My advice, spend at least 3 days there because you can hike down to the Colorado River one day, explore Obi Canyon another day, and then there's another canyon (don't know the name) you can explore that has a special surprise if you can find it (those who know understand why it's not cool to tell everyone publicly about it)... Also this place is home to Cheyvara falls, the biggest waterfall in the Grand Canyon. It was dry when I went in February though. Great backpacking adventure that I rounded out with a trip to Cottonwood and the North Rim before heading back to Bright Angel camp before exiting the canyon via the Bright Angel Trail. I put in 95 miles solo in 8 days and it was EPIC!!

hiking
Friday, January 13, 2012

Did this one out and back with a jaunt up Clear Creek to Cheyava Falls. Wonderful views from the Tonto Bench. Be careful crossing the shale dugway. It's a long slide followed by a long drop if you take a tumble. Wonderful trip. There are food cans at Clear Creek to help keep your chow safe from Ringtails. Keep a flashlight handy, they're fun to watch.

4 months ago