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South Canyon Trail

  • Vasey's Paradise
  • Lots of solitude but a tough hike
  • Base of the South Canyon route


  • This backcountry trail is located in the far eastern portion of the Grand Canyon.
  • Among its features is the oasis called Vasey's Paradise.
  • This is a wilderness route suited for experienced hikers.

South Canyon Trail


South Canyon Trail
South Canyon is typical of hikes descending off the Marble Bench; steep and loose, minor route finding, lack of
meaningful trail, and many miles of ankle-twisting drainage bottom walking. Hikers endure such tribulation so that
they may camp along the Colorado River beneath the towering cliffs of the Redwall. Short excursions to the aptly
named Vasey’s Paradise and the infamous Stanton’s Cave are an added benefit and a welcomed reward.  
Head southwest from the parking area towards the rim and follow the trail for about 90 yards (82 m) along the rim
to a chute marked by a cairn. Hike and scramble down this chute. From here a series of tight switchbacks and
short down-climbs covered with loose rocks leads to prominent outcrop of limestone. The route crosses the top of
this outcrop and traverses up canyon across the top of a red and white slick rock gully (visible from the rim of the
canyon). Descend this gully and contour down canyon below the limestone outcropping. Another set of tight
switchbacks and down-climbs leads to the canyon floor. Head down canyon by boulder hopping, bushwhacking,
and generally following the path of least resistance. Two 15 to 20 foot pour-offs will be encountered. These can
be bypassed by following cairned routes around them to the right side (south side) of the drainage.
Bedrock Canyon enters South Canyon from the north (left side). From this junction continue approximately 125
yards (114 m) to a 40 foot dry fall. This dry fall can be skirted by following a cairned route along a shelf on the
right side (south side) of the drainage for about 220 yards (200 m) to a junction with an unnamed canyon. Here
the route descends back into the creek bed. Continue down canyon until reaching the top on the gray Redwall 
Limestone. The limestone here is not “painted” red but gray which is actually its natural color. A cairned path
leads up and around the Redwall narrows on the left side (north side) of the canyon. This traverse is loose and
crosses several small ravines. Continue following the cairns across the Supai layer back down onto the limestone.
Here views of the river and Vasey’s Paradise open up to you. Head left and around a corner and begin a steep
descent. A 12 foot climb down leads to a large ledge. Head downriver along the shelf to an obvious break in the
limestone and scramble down it to the beach area. 

Access is via the House Rock road from Highway 89A. At mile marker 559.5 you will come to a dirt road on the
south side of the highway. It is prominently marked with a big sign "House Rock Buffalo Ranch 22 miles." This
road is marked as 8910, but some maps may show it as Forest Road (FR) 445. From here it is about 22 miles to
the trailhead. Follow this road south. At 10.7 miles the road splits. Take the left fork (the right fork is labeled
entering private property and leads to the Kane Ranch). At 11.5 miles you pass through a fence over a cattle
guard. A large sign on the right states that you are now in the Kaibab National Forest. Continue straight on FR
445 (8910) to mile 18.8 passing by FR 220 and FR 631. At mile 18.8 you reach the junction with FR 632 (labeled
3510 on some maps) marked by the sign "Wildlife HQ 2 Miles, Wilderness Access 8 Miles." Turn left at this fork
toward South Canyon. Follow FR 632 1.9 miles to the South Canyon Trail sign and turn right. Cross a cattle guard
and continue on this road for another mile to a parking area at the canyon's edge. A small trailhead sign marks
the beginning of the South Canyon route. 

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Call 928-638-7888
Come visit us! Vaseys Paradise, Grand Canyon No. Rim, AZ - 86052,US

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