July 2nd & 3rd, 2009
One hike I’d been meaning to do for some time was the New Hance to Grandview loop.
I’d been up and down the Grandview Trail several times. I’d done the New Hance Trail, but just once (with disastrous results!). The new segment for me was the section of the Tonto that links these two trails together.
I was excited to see this section, especially since I opted out of it just a week ago. I was also eager to re-familiarize myself (and make amends) with the New Hance Trail, curious if it was as difficult as I remembered.
The clouds on the first day of this overnight hike were magical for photos – I never tire of looking at these images. Something about the natural lighting just made everything look brilliant.
I was treated to phenomenal sunset, too.
It’s worth noting that this is not a loop in the truest sense of the word. A vehicle is necessary to connect the New Hance and Grandview trailheads.
Additionally, I cannot recommend doing this in mid summer. It’s best to book more than a single night on your itinerary. This is not meant to act as a trail guide. I stowed away my camera after leaving Hance Creek, so most of Day 2 is undocumented.
Such as it is, I can’t remember how I connected the two trailheads. I think I must have hitchhiked from Grandview back to the New Hance trailhead, but usually I remember when I hitchhike.
I’m fairly certain that this was the trip where I left my car parked at Moran Point. Apparently this is a no-no for backcountry hikers. When I returned to Rowzer Hall (South Rim employee housing) after the trip, the first thing my roommate said to me was “Jamie, the rangers were here looking for you! They thought maybe you fell in the Canyon!”
I guess an ambitious law enforcement officer didn’t like how my car was at Moran Point overnight, and assumed the worst (either a fall or a jump from the rim). You’d think they would have checked the backcountry permit records before going and banging on my door. The comment from my roommate was the first and last I ever heard of the subject.
So this is probably a good place to note that hikers are supposed to park in the gravel pullouts on the south side of the road near to the New Hance trailhead, or at the entrance to the gated forest service road 2801A.
The entire loop is about 18 miles.
Day 1: New Hance TH to the East Side of Hance Creek
I got started a little later than I would have liked.
It was a hot day.
This bighorn sheep was one of a small group of females. I only noticed them because I heard them moving high above the trail.
The Canyon was so quiet.
I took a long break at the bottom of the trail, at Hance Rapid.
If there’s any river runners here reading, you’ll notice something especially interesting in the photo above. These rafts are entering the “left run” of the rapid, which no longer exists! It was only a few years later when a big flash flood came tearing down Red Canyon and closed this left run with debris.
It was also cool to see this raft with several people actively paddling.
Traditionally a smaller raft like just has a single boatman, but some of the tour companies offer trips where they’ll give the guests the option to do some of the paddling. The guide here is sitting in the back, presumably shouting directions.
Eventually I tore myself away from the water and began trekking up the Tonto Trail.
I enjoyed the beginning of the climb, on through a boulder field with great views back at the rapid.
Mineral Canyon (above) surprised me in how it was different than your average side canyon. Similar to Red Canyon, the bright red Grand Canyon Supergroup rocks were still dominant and gave Mineral Canyon a unique character.
This saddle on the west side of the canyon essentially marks the end of the Supergroup’s exposure on the Tonto Trail. From here forward, it would be more of the traditional Bright Angel Shale and blackbrush that’s expected on the Tonto.
I packed a good deal of water up from the River and chose to make camp near the foot of this hill, on the east side of Hance Creek. Something about the hill called to me.
The views from the hill were worth it!
I could see (and hear) a sliver of Sockdolager Rapid, where I stood only a week ago.
The sunset was amazing!
see more photos from Day 1:
Day 2: East of Hance Creek to Grandview Point
It was a dry night despite the evening’s clouds.
This second day of the hike was uneventful. All the terrain through here was familiar to me, save for the first mile or so along the Tonto to the crossing of Hance Creek.
Hance Creek looked green and lush on this summer day.
I didn’t have any photos yet of Page Spring (aka Miners Spring), so I made the short detour to go get some. I’m glad I did, because some time later (okay a whole decade later) a rockslide came down and altered the location. I guess you can say this is now a historical photo.
You can still get water here, but the reinforced pool with its hanging garden is gone.