Deer Creek Trail

Toward the western edge of the Grand Canyon, on the park’s norther rim, lies Deer Creek, the destination point of Deer Creek Trail. Rather than an actual trail, the path leading toward Deer Creek is more of a route- a detour westward from a fork along Thunder River Trail. The destination is what matters and this route will take you straight to Deer Creek, its designated campground, the Narrows, Deer Creek Falls, and the Colorado River.

Deer Creek Falls Grand Canyon

As stated before, Deer Creek Trail is basically Thunder River Trail with an alternative ending. As such, you have a couple of choices in regard to accessing the trailhead. Depending on whether you mind walking 2.5 (4 km) miles more, there is a trailhead at Indian Hollow Campground- the trail’s original starting point. The shorter (but steeper) trailhead is at Bill Hall Trail. You won’t actually reach the fork that will take you to Deer Creek until you’re thoroughly exhausted at almost 10 miles in (16 km). Getting to this point is not easy, hikers venturing along this trail must be experienced and ready for challenging terrain.

Other than loose gravel, uneven footing, steep switchbacks and undulating hills, the heat along the Esplanade and within Surprise Valley can be unbearable in the summer months- all the more reason to appreciate the destination.

grand-canyon-deer-creek_2049_600x450

Access to Deer Creek is the main reason the Bill Hall and Thunder River Trail were built in the first place. Prospector John Powell found tracer gold along the edges of Deer Creek back in 1876, quickly kindling the gold fever forever endemic along the Colorado River. The first official detour point was within Surprise Valley, but today it is further along within Deer Creek Valley, starting off well within the Narrows.

From the fork onward, hikers can expect some moderate hills before reaching the drainage that will lead to Deer Spring. Further down Deer Creek Canyon, you’ll have a good view of the final destination, Deer Spring and once there, you’ll catch a straight on view of the Colorado River as well.

Only parts of this trail are maintained, mainly the Tapeats and Thunder River section you’ll skip by turning west along the fork. Therefore, keep in mind that much of this trail will be tricky and only experienced hikers should take on the risk. Other than that, Deer Creek Trail is a highly popular route and well-worth the challenge.