This hiking trail is on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and covers a vast amount of land from Toroweap Point all the way to 150-Mile Canyon. Part of the Supai formation, Tuckup Trail is a primitive trail that started off as a place where cowboys would camp out for the night as they led cattle- and as such, yet another trail that started out as an animal path.
There are a number of bodies of water along this trail, which is a gem of a find for a primitive trail, however they’re not very reliable. Actually, the accessibility, the climate, and the terrain of this trail are anything but reliable, making it one of the least hiked trails on the Grand Canyon and one of the more isolated.
While rugged, unpredictable and entrapping, Tuckup Canyon is a magnificent place to hike. The trail is not necessarily difficult, but accessing the trailhead requires a four-wheel driving and patience. The trail itself will be steep, dropping 2,000 feet (607 m) to the Esplanade level and barely visible, as few hikers have stamped the path into clarity.
Featuring some of the most diverse views of any of the park’s trails, Tuckup Trail lacks what most abound routes in- boulders. Instead, you’ll see amazing desert landscapes clashing beautifully with the bright orange of cactus blossoms and deep purple of wildflowers. Full of desert-dwelling critters and beautifully complex gorges, the area makes for fascinating exploration. Here, you can find prickly gatherings of cacti as well as pebble-like frogs and even an occasional rattle-snake.
Brimming with greenery and revealing an occasional emerald pond, this place is truly a scenic indulgence. The Indiana-Jones types should also know that given its remote location and challenging accessibility, Tuckup Trail hosts lots of undisturbed fossils.
Accessing the trailhead is a challenge in itself. The easiest option is to take the Tuweep road, north of Tuweep Overlook. Lured by the mesmerizing scenery and seemingly easy route, those first three miles (5 km) are deceptively breezy- a flat winding road of harmless dust. That being said, Tuckup Trail is known to be one of the most dangerous trails, quickly ensnaring you in hot sandstone and challenging your sense of direction.
The real trail begins once you reach the esplanade opening onto Cove Canyon- this is when you really start to understand why this route is not only for weathered hikers, but especially for those specializing in off-trail hiking. While there are plenty of springs and creeks along the way, almost all of them have a stomach-upsetting mineral content, so make sure to bring both water and/or a filtering system just to be safe.
Many hikers choose Tuckup Trail because of the relatively easy access to Shaman’s Valley where you can see ancient art renderings. The rock slide art, which features life-size figures and sketches is expected to be as old as 3,000 years. An interesting fact about this area is that the exact location of Shamans Gallery is not officially available to the public- causing a lot of visitors a lot of confusion.
The National Park Service and Federal Land Management do not have the resources to provide the protection a place like this requires if the amount of people attracted to the gallery were allowed to follow through with their curiosity. None of the official Grand Canyon sites mention Shamans Gallery, so if you decide to visit, research the exact location thoroughly. This vital since this area is isolated and waterless- getting lost can be fatal.