Scenic USA - Arizona

Clear Creek Trail

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Clear Creek Trail - Grand Canyon, Arizona

Photos by Rob Jones
Rob's Clear Creek Trip Report

     Similar to Forrest Gump's quip about never knowing what you'll get in a box of chocolates, Grand Canyon hikers never know what's in store during their descent into the canyon. Permit applications are submitted months in advance without any idea what the weather will bring.
     After winning the permit lotto, this mid April backcountry trip to Clear Creek yielded many delightful surprises. Clear Creek Flower Collage - Grand Canyon Beginning the second day with a light mist, hikers were greeted with a gorgeous double rainbow. With blankets of wildflowers and majestic sights along the 75 year old CCC trail, all signs signaled an extra special trip lie ahead in this geologic wonderland. With an exceptionally wet winter and local April showers, wildflowers seem to populate every nook and cranny. Searching for something other than solid rock to gain a foothold, you can see the mountainsides are covered in brittlebush. Hikers also encounter clumps of four o'clocks, ox-eye daisies and cactus blooms. Although Clear Creek looked anything but clear, hikers gained a first-hand demonstration about the power of erosion. When it does rain in the canyon the sun baked soil absorbs very little of this moisture and streams carry off this an abrasive mixture of sand and rock, slowly scouring out riverbeds and side canyons. Shallow rooted flowers and plants make the most of these rare showers and gather as much water as possible.
     Up ahead, beyond Clear Creek, lies one of Arizona's most spectacular waterfalls. Cheyava Falls - Walhalla Plateau north of Honan Point, Grand Canyon Rated among the top waterfalls in Arizona, Cheyava Falls is also one of the tallest. Seasonal flows occur mainly in the spring (April), and at other times the falls are just a wet streak on a canyon wall. First discovered by tour guide William Beeson from Yavapai Point, Cheyava Falls cascades down the red stone cliffs some 800 feet. Adding in another five miles to the hike (one way) from Clear Creek, this rare waterfall is well worth the extra miles.
     The multi-day trip (5-6 days) follows the Clear Creek Trail for approximately eight miles, but takes 9+ miles from the South Rim to get to it. Completed in 1935 by the Civilian Conservation Corps, the pathway was built as a mule trail for Phantom Ranch visitors. As you may guess with Cheyava Falls beckoning during the spring, Clear Creek remains one of the more popular hikes in the Grand Canyon.

   Clear Creek Route

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