Clear Creek Trail
The Clear Creek Trail climbs up to the Tonto Platform before descending again to Clear Creek. For backpackers or mule riders staying a few days at Bright Angel Campground or Phantom Ranch, the Clear Creek Trail is a scenic side trip, though dangerously hot and dry in the summer.
There are campsites and a pit toilet at flowing Clear Creek, the trail’s only water source. Spring backpackers may see seasonal Cheyava Falls, while day hikers at any time of year can enjoy aerial views of Phantom Ranch and the Silver and Black Bridges.
From its junction with the North Kaibab Trail, the Clear Creek Trail ascends 0.75 miles to Phantom Overlook, a good day-hike destination with views of Bright Angel Canyon and the oasis of Phantom Ranch, 550 feet below. When the Civilian Conservation Corps constructed the Clear Creek Trail, they made a bench of Vishnu schist so hikers could rest and enjoy the view.
The trail continues up to the rim of Granite Gorge, offering stunning views up and down the river. Another good turnaround point for a day hike is Sumner Wash, about 2.5 miles from the trailhead, where the trail turns north, away from the gorge, to reach the Tonto Platform.
The trail rises gradually through the Tonto’s scrubby desert terrain, with wide-open views of the eastern canyon’s cliffs and buttes, before reaching the edge of Clear Creek Canyon. From here, it’s a steep descent to the creek and its cottonwood-shaded campsites.
Depending on the season, adventurous hikers may want to explore farther: It’s another five miles north to Cheyava Falls, tumbling 800 feet from the Redwall during spring snowmelt. The rough route crosses the streambed several times. For those with rock-climbing skills, it’s the same distance south to the Colorado River.
© Kathleen Bryant from Moon Grand Canyon, 5th Edition