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dblack Escalante


11.3 mile 18.2 kilometer point to point
84% Runnable
Extremely Difficult


Ascent: 2,156' 657 m
Descent: -2,250' -686 m
High: 3,885' 1,184 m
Low: 2,583' 787 m


Avg Grade: 7% (4°)
Max Grade: 62% (32°)


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The Escalante Route has a reputation for requiring a bit extra from Grand Canyon visitors.

Nicholas Shannon

Features Birding · River/Creek · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife


Run this route in either direction, but traveling with the flow of the land is appealing so this passage will be described from the perspective of a down-canyon runner.

Shallow gullies must be crossed at intervals, but generally speaking, the route from Tanner to Cardenas is straightforward. Cardenas Creek is almost always dry, but there is easy access to the Colorado River via the bed of the drainage. This is the last reliable water source until one reaches the river at the mouth of Escalante Creek. The trail crosses Cardenas Creek about two hundred yards above the shoreline and climbs the Dox Hill immediately west.

The route crosses the unnamed drainage and traverses west toward the crest of the ridge north of Escalante Creek. Caution is indicated throughout this area, as there are many places where you'll want to avoid a misstep at all cost. The trail seems to traverse west forever, finally going to the top of the ridge just short of the west end. A fine view in all directions is the reward for all the side hill walking.

The trail climbs away from the river below the mouth of Escalante Creek and follows a rising ramp of Shinumo Quartzite down the canyon. Run the top of this formation around into Seventyfive Mile Creek. Seventyfive Mile Creek is normally dry in its lower reaches, but there is access to the river at various points throughout the stretch from Escalante to Papago Creeks. Trails along the beach form the route downriver towards Papago Creek. Eventually, sand gives way to rock and a series of ledges require a bit of attention to avoid being rimmed up. In general, stay as close to the river as is conveniently possible. The trail goes up and over a small outcrop of sandstone before dropping back to river level at the mouth of Papago Creek.

Exit Papago on the west and work up a series of tall ledges. Start up immediately west of the mouth of the drainage. The holds are big and secure and leads up from ledge to ledge. The climbing is easy, but no mistakes can be made. About 35 feet up the angle relents and one can climb the slopes to a horizontal trail about 300 vertical feet above the river.

Traverse less than 100 yards down the canyon before coming to the top of a talus filled runnel that allows passage back to the shoreline. This gully seems dangerous - steep, with lots of big boulders in precarious balance.

Once at Hance Rapids you can continue west via the East Tonto Trail or ascend to the rim on the New Hance Trail.


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  5.0 from 12 votes


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