Tuckup Trail via 150-Mile Canyon Trailhead

April 14 through April 21, 2017

This map (above) shows our overall route.

Click on photos to see larger image. 

The goal of this trip was to hike the Tuckup Trail from 150-Mile Canyon to Tuckup Canyon.  The Tuckup Trail is on the Esplanade level, which is roughly 1500 feet below the rim.  I had hiked many miles along the Esplanade, and a couple of sections of the Tuckup Trail.  I love hiking on the Esplanade because of the relatively easy hiking and the expansive views all around and up and down.  The typical difficulty is the lack of water.  So we decided to do this in April, hopefully not too long after it had rained.  As it turned out, because of water concerns, we didn't make it to Tuckup Canyon, but turned around after 3 days and spent the next 5 days leisurely hiking back to our car.

Our route would take us to the eastern section, where there is no discernable trail, and the roads into this area are confusing at best.  The following paragraph is from a Grand Canyon National Park description of the Tuckup Trail:


The Tuckup area is a remote, vast expanse of labyrinthine gorges, sandstone slickrock, and fascinating history. However, the unique combination of heat, unreliable water sources, and inaccessibility, makes this one of the most challenging and least visited of Grand Canyonís named trails. In summer the sun and sandstone would cook even the hardiest desert creature, and winter access may be impossible due to heavy snow or mud. Spring or fall; after a rain is the best time to go, if you can get your vehicle out there. The easiest way to access this area is on the Tuweep road, just north of the Tuweep Overlook. The road descends into the Esplanade layer within the canyon, so itís one of the few Grand Canyon hikes that begins without a steep descent. This beginning is deceptively easy, and the terrain soon necessitates a seemingly endless variety of choices for navigation. There are numerous possibilities for trips in this area; this description gives information on main access points going west to east. The eastern portion really has no trails, and excellent route finding skills are essential.


I researched as much about this area as I could, concentrating on water sources.  To do a loop, we opted to start at the 150-Mile Trailhead and exit to the rim via the north arm of Tuckup Canyon, ending near Jensen Tank.  But this would put us about 8 miles from our start.  I decided to bring my mountain bike to drop off at our exit so that we could ride it back to retrieve our car.

I requested a permit for this area in February.  In March I started keeping track of precipitation in the area, although data can only be obtained from "nearby" cities like Kanab, Utah, or Grand Canyon Village on the south rim.  As it turned out, the last recorded rain in the area was on March 29, two weeks before the start of our hike.  We figured this would be close enough to our start date, depending on how much rain our specific area actually got.  It is almost always a bit of a crap shoot.

Trip members included Rob Jones and Ben Mahlab.  On April 12, 2017, I drove my 4Runner from my home in Arroyo Seco, New Mexico, to Page, Arizona, where I spent the night.  Ben was flying into Las Vegas the next day and would take the shuttle to St. George, Utah, where I would pick him up at around 2 PM.  Rob, driving from Flagstaff, would meet us in Kanab, Utah at around 3:30 PM, and from there we would all drive together to the trailhead. 

This area of Arizona is known as the Arizona Strip -- a section of Arizona north of the Colorado River, thus historically  isolated form the rest of Arizona, as it still is today.  Nearly all of the roads on the Strip are all dirt, and mostly unmarked.  We took a couple of wrong turns, and even with a GPS and topographic maps, some roads on the map were just not there.  And many that were there are not on the map.  We were starting to lose daylight before we got to the trailhead, so we stopped at the first nice campsite we found.  We would do the bike shuttle in the morning.  And since we didn't have far to go on our first day, we were in no hurry.

Rob Jones (Wilderness Vagabond) has a really nice write-up of this trip on his website:

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