“The only trail across the Tonto Platform that leads to the tallest seasonal waterfall in the park.”
— Nicholas Shannon
River/Creek · Views · Waterfall · Wildlife
Southern aspect means a full day of sun, best times to run this trail is extremely early in the morning or in the evening.
The trailhead is approximately mile north of Phantom Ranch on the North Kaibab Trail. The junction is marked by a wooden sign.
From the junction with the North Kaibab Trail, the Clear Creek Trail climbs through a series of switchbacks to the southeast towards Phantom Overlook (a sharp switchback with a landing where there are a few stone benches; from this point there is a good view looking straight down at Phantom Ranch). After passing Phantom Overlook, the trail continues up to the base of the Tapeats and then traverses to the east for another mile to the Tonto Platform. While walking along the base of the Tapeats, runners are exposed to the Great Unconformity, a gap in the geologic record spanning more than 1 billion years. After a final ascent to the top of the Tapeats, the trail contours along the Tonto Platform, crossing Sumner Wash and two minor drainages. The trail turns to the north when it intersects with Clear Creek drainage below Demaray Point. When Clear Creek Canyon appears on the right, runners are still only half way to their destination. From here, the trail crosses shallow Zoroaster Canyon and then continues over an unnamed drainage to the north. Finally, at the end of the Tonto traverse, the trail drops into a drainage by traversing a long slope of brilliantly orange-colored Hakatai Shale. The trail ends at a dry tributary creek bed, looking up this drainage one can see Brahma Temple. From here there is no trail, so it is necessary to run down the drainage for approximately 150 meters to its confluence with Clear Creek. Most backpackers camp at the many impacted sites just downstream from the confluence.
A faint route continues downstream to the confluence with the east fork of Clear Creek. Running to the Colorado River via the creek requires scrambling and numerous creek crossings. It is approximately six miles one way. A quarter mile from the river there is a pour off that requires a fifteen foot down climb. This climb can be wet and icy, so use extreme caution, and don't attempt if you don't feel comfortable with free climbing. Allow a full day to complete this run.
Many runners also day run up Clear Creek toward Cheyava Falls (800 feet tall when flowing). This is a five mile run one-way and follows the creek bed. Allow a full day to complete this run. Cheyava Falls only flows in the spring after winters with high snowfall.