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Grand Canyon Hiking Boucher Trail
Hiking South Rim West Rim Bright Angel South Kaibab Hermit Grandview
Boucher Trail has a split personality. The lower half, from Yuma Point to the Tonto Plateau, is fearsome. Backpackers tell horror stories about climbing up that section, or even descending it. It's so bad the official recommendation is to bypass it, detour over, and climb the Hermit Trail instead. People read such reports and erase the Boucher from their list. But that's a mistake. Because the upper half of the Boucher Trail is one of America's great day hiking routes. It extends four miles from the Hermit's Rest Visitor Center out along the edge of Eremita Mesa to Yuma Point and maybe a few hundred yards beyond. Those four miles are mostly level, smoothly maintained, and offer one breathtaking view after another. The photo top right shows the view from Yuma Point. For perspective, the photo at right was taken down on the Tonto Plateau looking back up at Eremita Mesa. (It's when it begins switchbacking its way down from the mesa to the plateau that the trail gets hairy.) Once you've hiked the South Rim Trail, we highly recommend you hike the Boucher Trail next. It's a great introduction to hiking off the paved walkways. Four miles out, an hour for lunch at one of America's most scenic overlooks, and four miles back gives you an eight mile, seven hour experience that you'll treasure for a long time. Grand Canyon Hiking Boucher Trail
Grand Canyon Hiking Boucher Trail To reach the trailhead, you take the Hermit's Rest Shuttle, sometimes also labelled the Hiker's Express, from its station just below the Bright Angel Lodge in Grand Canyon Village, out to Hermit's Rest. Hermit's Rest is a tourist stop, with a snack bar, gift shop, rest rooms and overlooks. From Hermit's Rest, take the Hermit Trail southwest, turn right at the Waldron Trail intersection, turn left onto Dripping Springs Trail, and then finally turn right onto the Boucher Trail. If you want to add an extra mile to your hike you could continue on out the Dripping Springs Trail to Dripping Springs itself. There's year round cool, clear water there, but it has to be treated.
You'll need at least three bottles of ice water : one for the trip out, one for lunch and one for the return trip. There is no water anywhere along the Boucher Trail. If you wanted to make this a late day trip, hiking out in the afternoon, eating dinner at Yuma Point, and hiking back as the sun set behind you, you would almost certainly see lots of wildlife, some of it very close. But remember the shuttle buses stop running soon after dark so you can't be out on the trail too late. Grand Canyon Hiking Boucher Trail
Grand Canyon Hiking Boucher Trail Views like this are a constant along the Boucher Trail. The trail was an old Havasupai trail which prospector Louis Boucher improved in 1893. He homesteaded land at Dripping Springs and built a shack there. The trail was originally to access a graphite mine he established down at the base of the mesa. Eventually, Boucher married and built a "ranch" down on the Tonto Plateau, although he never did any ranching. He did plant a fine orchard down there, and raised a garden. But, like many others along the South Rim, he discovered the real gold in the tourist trade. He began charging to lead visitors down to his place on the Tonto Plateau, and beyond that to the Boucher Rapids on the river. Boucher was quite a storyteller, humorist and all round host. By the time he died in 1910 he had become one of the Grand Canyon's great characters.
The only problem with hiking the Boucher Trail is that tourist helicopters are allowed by the park service to fly over this area and they do so all day. Many hikers find watching the helicopters fascinating. The copters will often fly far below you, circling formations and giving their passengers a close view of rafters on the river. Many of them operate out of Tusayan, and their route into the canyon takes them right over Eremita Mesa, so often you'll get a very close view. Grand Canyon Hiking Boucher Trail
Grand Canyon Hiking Boucher Trail This late afternoon photo shows the Canyon in bright sun. However, all Summer, afternoon thunderstorms are common. You should definitely bring a poncho or backpacking rain parka. Sometimes you'll have the unique experience of looking down on a thunderstorm, watching the black clouds, lightning and rain far below while you're still in bright sun.
Yuma Point is one of the finest overlooks in the western half of the Grand Canyon. You can see down into the Colorado River and with a good pair of binoculars watch the white water rafters navigating Salt Creek Rapids, Granite Rapids, Hermit Rapids and Boucher Rapids. Grand Canyon Hiking Boucher Trail
Grand Canyon Hiking Boucher Trail This is a formation visible to the extreme lower right from Yuma Point.
This is the outer limit of a Boucher day hike. Here, you're looking down the Travertine Creek Canyon, where the trail descends four thousand feet to the Tonto Plateau. This is about a third of a mile beyond Yuma Point. That landform you're seeing straight ahead but far down there is Whites Butte. Partially visible off to the upper left of the photo is Cocopa Point, the north west extreme of Eremita Mesa. This whitish rock in the foreground is Travertine, a form of limestone deposited by hot springs. Obviously, at some long ago time, there was such a spring atop this mesa. Grand Canyon Hiking Boucher Trail
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