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Clear Creek Trail

HARD 10 reviews
#55 of 99 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: 8,772 feet Route Type: Out & Back




nature trips

trail running

bird watching



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.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

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.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

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.

no shade
Thursday, November 02, 2017

Took a leisurely 5 day hike. The first day was the descent on the South Kaibab Trail to Bright Angel Campground near the confluence of Bright Angel Creek and the Colorado River. This is a great hike in of itself (6.4 miles, with a descent of 4,860 ft.) and spectacular views of the middle portion of the Canyon. There's no water and little shade on the South Kaibab, but in the autumn the temperatures are moderate and the hike was very enjoyable. The descent is steep and rocky, however, and can be hard on one's joints, so take that into consideration. The real hike began the next day. To reach the Clear Creek trailhead, one hikes up the North Kaibab Trail for about three-quarters of a mile to the well-marked junction. From there, it's a steady climb up the well-defined trail through the metamorphic rocks of the Vishnu schist to Phantom overlook, which provides a nice view of Phantom Ranch, now about 1,500 ft. below. From that point, the trail levels out as it skirts along the Great Unconformity, between the Vishnu schist below and the Tapeats sandstone cliffs above. This stretch of the trail affords dramatic views of the river, the Inner Gorge and the route of the South Kaibab Trail as it snakes down to the river from the Tip-Off. After about a mile, the trail starts climbing again, reaching the Tonto platform at the base of Sumner Butte. At-large camping (with a permit) is allowed from basically here on (the dividing line is well marked). From there, the Trail contours eastward, crossing two major washes below Zoroaster Temple before reaching to western edge of the canyon formed by Clear Creek, about 4.6 miles in from the trail junction. The trail then turns to the northeast, following the Clear Creek drainage for the next 2.5 miles but still up on the Tonto Platform. The views along the portion of the trail up on the Tonto Platform are superb, some of the best in the Canyon. Do bear in mind that there is no water and practically no shade along the trail, and it would be very hot in the summer - even on the first day of November it was about 90F in the mid-day sun. At this point, the trail begins to descend to Clear Creek. The descent is tricky; it descends across of talus slope of shale. The trail is clear and well-defined, but one's footing doesn't feel really secure and a slide down the slope and over the cliff below it could be disastrous. I would not want to attempt this in the dark. Caution is advised! Once at the bottom of the descent, the trail heads down a dry wash and can be hard to follow, but that's not a serious problem. One curious aspect of the trail is that it goes between the campground's toilet and the toilet's privacy fence - not much privacy here! But not to worry; there won't be many people here, either! The camping area consists of a number of nice, well-defined campsites spaced a comfortable distance apart. Clear Creek is a lovely little perrenial stream that runs along the east edge of the camping area, and had several deep pools where one can immerse one's self completely and relax. Simply beautiful. We spent a full day exploring around the campsites. If one is feeling adventurous, it's possible to head downstream to the river or upstream towards Cheyava Falls, a tall, seasonal waterfall which was, of course, dry in early November. Clear Creek is simply a wonderful destination. We're slow hikers, and the hike from Bright Angel campground to Clear Creek took nearly all our daylight hours. It's about 9.1 miles each way, Bright Angel campground to Clear Creek campground. Of course, there's more daylight in the Spring, if that's a concern, but we were fine even in November and being slow hikers. There was only one party of three hikers there with us; on the hike in we saw no other hikers, and on the hike out we saw only one party hiking in. Quite a pleasant contrast with the corridor trails! The hike out is just the reverse of the hike in. Again, we camped at Bright Angel campground on the way out, although on our final day we ascended the Bright Angel Trail (9.6 miles, 4,460 ft. vertically) , which has water and shade, rather than the South Kaibab. Clear Creek is a great hike, but I recommend avoiding it during the summer.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

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.

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!!

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.

recorded Clear Creek Trail

22 days ago

4 months ago

Friday, January 12, 2018

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