The trail to Havasupai is called Hualapai Trail and extends 10 miles through Havasu Canyon to the first in a series of waterfalls for which this area is named. Along the way you'll see some gorgeous slot canyons framed by red, orange and yellow sandstone and limestone. You'll visit the village of Supai, home of the Havasupai Indians (people of the blue-green water), at about mile 8 into the hike. (Don't forget to check in at the visitor center and get your permit. See red tape below.) Another couple of miles along the Havasu Creek, and you'll arrive at the waterfalls and the Havasupai Campground.
The first mile or so of the hike carries you from the Hualapai Hilltop to the canyon floor, a descent of about 1,000 feet. The stretch from there to the village is on a flat, pebbly dry river bottom. You'll get quite sick of hearing the swishing sound your shoes make as they stride through the gravel. That's the only unpleasant part of this hike though, as you'll no doubt be mesmerized by the gorgeous canyon walls and rock formations.
The village of Supai is home to about 700 remaining Havasupai Indians and a disproportionate number of hungry and malnourished wild dogs. They are poor, but very proud of their heritage and their Canyon, so please respect them and their land when you are visiting. In the village, there's a post office (delivery by mule), a store, a cafe, a museum, a helicopter pad, and a hotel.
The series of waterfalls begin with Supai / Navajo Falls. If you are walking along the trail, you'll likely see Navajo, but it's easy to pass by. This is my favorite one just for that reason. To get to the falls, you'll have to cross an 8-inch diameter fallen tree that discourages most casual visitors. But once you are there, you're likely to find the most beautiful, secluded, private waterfall and swimming hole in the area.
About another 1/2 mile down the trail, you'll come to the most popular and most photographed of the falls -- Havasu. This double plumed waterfall plummets 120 feet into a large turquoise pool. The Havasupai Campground is located just past the waterfall along the trail.
Mooney Falls is another mile down the trail. Mooney is the tallest of the falls, measuring 190 feet. A mist-covered slick and precarious trail through travertine caves leads you from the top of Mooney to the base. You'll have to grab hold of some slippery wooden step ladders to lower yourself down. (It's worth the trip though!)
Another 4 miles downstream, you'll come to Beaver Falls, not as tall as Mooney or Havasu, but it'll also be less crowded due to the extra effort it takes to get there. If you continue to follow the trail, you can eventually reach the Colorado River as it snakes its way through the Grand Canyon.
First, a clarification on the "time required" listed above. The reason it reads "several days" is not due to the effort it takes to get there. Rather, it's the minimum amount of time a visitor to the Havasu Canyon and Falls would need to absorb the superb scenery and hiking in the area.
The journey begins at Hualapai Hilltop on the western end of the Grand Canyon. To reach Hualapai, drive west on I-40 from Flagstaff, past Williams. Take the Seligman exit (reset your trip odometer here) and go north toward Peach Springs. Fill up in Peach Springs because that's the last gas stop for quite a while. Approximately 37 miles from the Seligman exit (or 6 miles past Peach Springs), take the paved reservation road #18 to the right. Drive on this road for 64 miles to reach the Hualapai Hilltop.
You can spend the night at the trail head to get an early start if you wish. Most people sleep in their cars, but I actually dragged out the tent. Funny seeing a tent in a parking lot, but no one harrassed me about it.
Water is NOT avalliable at the trail head and there really is nothing until Supai. The last place to fill up if you do not have water already is in Peach Springs The water at the campground comes right from a spring but I still pump it anyway.
I should mention that you can buy a horseback ride into Havasupai from the Hualapai Hilltop. Alternatively, for those of you in a hurry, you can even take a 5-minute helicopter ride directly to the Supai village. Last check it was $75 one-way.
The only drawback to Havasupai is the amount of effort it takes to set up a trip there. Reservations for camping and hotels must be booked months to a year in advance.
There's an entry fee of $15 into the reservation, and a camping fee of $15 per person per night. You can rent horses to carry your gear from the Hualapai Hilltop to the Havasupai Campground (roughly $150 roundtrip for 4 people's stuff).
Reservations can be made by calling 520-448-2141. A 50% deposit must be paid at the time of reservation, credit cards are accepted.
Once you reach Supai, you'll need to check in at the visitor's center next to the helicopter pad. They'll issue you a tag that must be placed on your pack for the duration of your visit. Camping at large (outside of the Havasupai Campground) is strictly forbidden.
You are responsible for carrying all your gear, and food, and water into the canyon, and all your trash back out. Since you'll want to spend a minimum of 2 nights at the bottom, this means your pack can be quite sizeable. You can buy some provisions at the store in Supai, but that's a few miles from the falls.
This is not a technical hike / climb, so no special equipment is necessary. However, I would consider camera and film to be absolute essentials for this one.
If you have information about this route that doesn't pertain to any of the other sections, please add it here.
The following quote is from John:
"According to John Annerino in his Sierra Club guide book "Hiking the Grand Canyon" (ISBN: 0871565897) the Havasupai dump their partially treated sewage into Havasu Creek. Their village, Supai, is above all of the major falls visited by tourists. My understanding is that this is the same creek that flows from Supai to the Colorado River and includes Navajo, Havasu, Mooney, and Beaver Falls. When I hiked here back in 1999, I noticed that none of the Havasupai swam in under the falls while many tourist families and their children did. I swam under Mooney Falls and tried to swim into the falls but there was too much water so I kept getting pushed away. I also hiked all the way down to the Colorado River spending a lot of time with my boots in the creek. When I got home, my feet itched for 2 weeks but prodigious amounts of Lava soap took care of the problem. My feet have never felt that way before or since but I guess it could have been the limestone. Beautiful area though. I'm glad I only found out about the sewage after I had hiked out and was reading the guidebook at a Denny's."
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