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Old 11-05-2012   #1
Burlington, Vermont
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 3
Hiking into the Grand Canyon

Hi folks,
Need some advice. A friend and I are hiking into the Grand Canyon to meet our group, boats gear and all, and are debating between Tanner Trail and Bright Angel Trail.

Question #1: What / how much quality scenery and rapids would be missed by hiking Bright Angel vs Tanner

Question #2: How sketchy is hiking Tanner, given we will be carrying boats and gear. We have plenty of time so can go very slow and carefully if need be. However if there are narrow ledges, drop offs, scree fields etc that would make hiking this trail foolish to do with a boat I would like to know prior! What I have found digging around on the net varies, with some reports saying it's sketchy from a technical hiking standpoint, and others just saying it is physically strenuous but relatively safe (i.e. no falling to your death unless you are aren't being cautious).

Thanks so much for any help.


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Old 11-05-2012   #2
prescott, Arizona
Paddling Since: 1982
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 276
when are you going?

the upper stretch of the tanner doesn't get much sun. if the weather is anything like they are predicting, it's gonna' snow this weekend. the snow tends to stay in there all winter.

been a while since i've hiked it but seems like it was close to 10 miles to the river going down the tanner.

carrying boats and gear down any trail in the canyon will be epic. if that's the only way i could do it, i'd take the kaibab trail. way shorter and more straight forward, better trail. you may still see some snow near the top but the trail is more forgiving.
it also ends right at boat beach.

have you talked to the park service about hiking boats (am assuming you are talking about hard shells)? you will have to deal with the mules on the b.a. or the kaibab.

others will have their opinions.

good luck. let us know how it works out.


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Old 11-05-2012   #3
lhowemt's Avatar
at my house, Montana
Paddling Since: 2020
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 4,345
If tanner works logistically, do that! You'll get hance, sock, grapevine, and that is a beautiful stretch
I am a river, babe - I've got plenty of time, I don't know where I'm going, I'm just following the lines..... - "We are water" by Shaye
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Old 11-05-2012   #4
prescott, Arizona
Paddling Since: 1982
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 276
PM'd you.
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Old 11-06-2012   #5
Flagstaff, Arizona
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 382
Still time to rig your boats to rafts at Lees?

Do you have to carry your boats? If there were any way to avoid that option, that would be my #1 piece of advice. The tanner trail is beautiful, and the rapids above phantom ranch are some of the most fun to paddle no doubt. The trail is quite steep, and there are sections (Dox formation) of the trail that would be kinda sketchy with tired legs and heavy gear. If you're dead set on hiking (Kayak?) heavy loads into the canyon I hope you're in great shape w very strong legs/knees. If not, I guess phantom would be my suggestion because either the BA or kaibab is a highway compared w the tanner trail. You WILL be worked for days from the effort if you're not in shape, and the first couple days below phantom is when you'll want to be feeling good for the great rapids. ENJOY, and have a great trip!
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Old 11-06-2012   #6
alta, Utah
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 121
I did this recently. My first plan was to hike my boat and gear down bright angel. However, at the last hour and as they were driving through Salt Lake, I talked one of our rafters into loading my boat on his raft and just hiked down BA with my paddle and gear. I would recommend this option if you have it, as I think carrying a loaded boat and cold weather paddling gear would be would difficult for all but the most hearty and in-shape paddler. If you did bright angel, maybe one of the mule trains could take your gear to their turn around point (about 2/3 of your 7 miles)? The bright angel trail in daylight was not difficult or technical however, if it was extremely muddy that would be a problem. 10% grade (wear good well-broken-in shoes). I cant speak to the other trails but, if I recall BA is the shortest route to the river. Yeah, you miss a few of the good upstream rapids and features in the canyon but, truth is, your gonna have a splendid time. After you get back, come look up this thread and tell us about it.
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Old 11-06-2012   #7
Flagstaff, Arizona
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 32
Send your boats with the trip and hike down the tanner. It is supposed to snow this weekend and the top part of this trail does not get sun. If your trip refuses your request I would go down the kaibab trail (FYI it is going to suck, you will be sad, but people have done it). Good luck!
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Old 11-06-2012   #8
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Eastern Slope, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1980
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 2,403
Carrying in a kayak is ridiculous. If your group won't take the boats from Lee's to Phantom they aren't worth boating with. Give them 2 boats, 2 dry bags, 2 paddles, and 2 cases of beer!
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Old 11-06-2012   #9
Burlington, Vermont
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 3
Our group is willing to transport our gear down the river to when we meet, our issue is getting the gear to them. Unfortunately the time off was granted for the two of us hiking in only last minute, thus the need to even hike down in the first place.

So here we are in VT, our group launches the 13th, the earliest we can hike in is the 19th. Getting boats and gear out there via expedited shipping is prohibitively expensive at this point. Fingers crossed, we have one last hail-mary option to get the gear to our group in time without having to ship it. Otherwise we are faced with the following options and I'd love some input on which is recommended:

1) Hike in boats and gear via bright angel
2) Be rafters for the trip, and hike in Tanner
3) Sack up and hike in Tanner with boats and gear for each of us (from the sounds of responses here so far, seems a bit over-ambitious)
4) Bring one boat only and split up the gear/boat and hike in Tanner
5) Rent boats and have our group pick them up for us on the way. (Anybody know places in close proximity with reasonable rates?) Then hike in Tanner

All help / advice greatly appreciated.
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Old 11-06-2012   #10
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 883

Your rental idea is the one I'd pursue. Particularly if your crew is coming through Flagstaff, there are several outfitters there who could be the answer.


Rich Phillips

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