JR, Kathy, Jon & Ed hiked into the Grand Canyon on October 24, 2014 for a 4 day, 3 night stay at the Lodge in Supai. We did day hikes downstream to Navaho, Havasu, Mooney & Beaver Falls, and upstream to Havasu Springs.
We took the I-15 to Barstow, the I-40 to Kingman, then Route 66 to Peach Springs where we stayed at the Hualapai Lodge. Seven miles east of the Hualapai Lodge is the turn-off onto Indian Highway 18, which in 66 miles takes you to the trailhead at Hualapai Hilltop. It took us about 1 hour and 20 minutes to get from the Hualapai Lodge to Hualapai Hilltop. Here's the link to a map of the area: http://www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/upload/supai_map.pdf
The Hualapia HilltopTrail leads you about 8 miles to Supai, AZ, a small village that has been occupied by the Havasupai people for several hundred years. Right beside the trailhead is a small building where, with previous arrangement, you can check duffels.The first mile of the trail descends about 1000 feet into a broad valley. The trail follows the center of this valley which offers a gradual descent to a narrow gorge leading to another plateau where Supai is located.
Supai, the capital of the Havasupai Reservation, is on a plateau about 2000 feet below Hualapai Hilltop. About 200 people live there year round, almost all members of the Havasupai Tribe. There is a tourits office, post office, market, and lodge at the center, and a smaller store and fast food window at a residence beside the trail as you enter the village from the south. Tourists are required to stay on the main trail and not photograph local people or their residences. The campground is about 2 miles further along the trail.
Navaho is the first falls you encounter as you make your way down the trail from the Village. Actually, there are several drops at Navaho, the larger ones being Upper Navaho and and Lower Navaho. While not as high as Havasu or Mooney, the Navaho Falls are beautiful. The pool below Lower Navaho offers the most accessible swiming. The best place to enter is probably a large, sloped boulder at water edge somewhat downstream; you will have to wade & swim upstream to get to the deeper water below the falls.
Havasu Falls is at the upstream end of the campground. It normally has a single stream of water falling some 150 feet. If the creek water above is high enough two streams are formed. The pool below is one of the best places to swim. The water is about 70-75 degrees year round.
Mooney Falls marks the downstream end of the campground. The water plunges about 200 feet in a single narrow stream to pool below which offers excellent swimming. However, getting to that pool will be a terrifying experience for all but the most fearless. If you have qualms about heights, confined spaces, steep stairs carved in cliff walls, chain rails, or crude ladders, you will be challenged here. On the other hand, if you have the strength in arms and legs, a strong grip, and can muster the courage it's a breathtaking, unforgettable experience. Don't forget, however, that you have to go back up the same way you came down.
The hike to Beaver Falls is about 3 miles from the foot of Mooney Falls. It's a tough hike because there are several stream crossings and several places where the trail, if it can be called that, disappears. You have the choice of either climbing up the bank and back down, or wading downstream until the trail resumes. We found wading preferrable in most such places. By being careful you can find places shallow enough so the water is never much above your knees. When deciding on this hike, be aware that you have already seen the best falls by the time you get to Mooney since Beaver is really a set of smaller falls. Also, note that getting to the pool below Beaver requires climbing high above the falls on the right side, descending back to the creek, then working your way back upstream to the foot of the falls. As most hikers, we stopped at the top. The only reasons to go below Beaver is to continue on down to the Colorado, or to fish. The Reservation ends at Beaver, so fishing is allowed and is repoted to be good as you get near the Colorado.
Nearly all Havasupai hikers go only downstream from the village. However, another short day hike is available by going upstream to Havasu Springs. These springs, the source of water for Havasu Creek, come from underground flows that reach the surface in Havasu Canyon shortly upstream of its juncture with Hualapai Canyon. To get there, retreat on the same trail you used coming into the village. Shortly after crossing the bridge the wanted trail forks off to the left, folllowing Havasu Creek. After a half mile or so the creek becomes noticibly smaller, and eventurally becomes very shallow and boggy. There is no gushing or bubbling or anything like that, at least as far as we could see. Rather, the creek just gradually appears and gets bigger as it proceeds.
Before you reach the beginnings of the creek you will encounter a red "Wrong Way" sign, although the trail continues and it does not say "Keep Out". At some point this trail becomes Topocoba Trail which is an alternative route down from the rim. Permits from both the Huvasupai Tribe and the National Parks Service are required to use this trail, however.
When we did this hike we were unsure of which side of the Havasu Creek to hike up. At Ed's suggestion, based on our topo map, we left the main trail immediately before the bridge. As shown in the photos, there was no proper trail so we were fighting our way through brush most of the time. Eventually, we got to where the flow was shallow enough to cross, and as soon as we did we were on the proper trail as described above. Always the gentleman, JR rerfained from saying "I told you so!"