Hualapai Hilltop to Supai, Navajo Falls, Havasu Falls, Mooney Falls, toward Colorado River

Key for all trip logs

Participants: Tom Chester, Tim Conrow, Linda Fullmer, Dave Gregorich, Gene Kopan, Mehrdad Moshir and Sherry Wheelock.
Dates: 26-28 April 1986 (Written up 2 November 1996)

Unlike most of my previous Grand Canyon hikes, I didn't write down a description of this trip at the time, so all I have to go on are my trip logs and my poor memory.

Havasu is a quite different experience from other Grand Canyon hikes. Some of the differences are:

See also the Supai fact sheet.

The first thing one has to decide for a trip to Havasu is where to stay the night before. For this trip we stayed at the Frontier Motel, near Peach Springs. Another option is to find a flat space and camp at the trailhead, Hualapai Hilltop. For our 1989 trip, we stayed in Kingman, AZ.

26 April 1986

Hualapai Hilltop to Supai, Navajo Falls and Havasu Falls

Because we stayed in Peach Spring, we didn't get on the trail until 10:05, after the hour or so drive along the access road to Hualapai Hilltop.

I distinctly remember being incredibly shocked when we started down the trailhead. There was litter galore in the first mile of the trail. I saw an Indian on horseback throw a soda can along the trail, looked at him incredulously, and he said defiantly "My Canyon!"! Fortunately, after that first bit, trash was much less evident.

The first part of the trail descends into Hualapai Canyon, a side canyon to Havasu Canyon. It looks much different from a "normal" Grand Canyon trip, since you don't see the rest of the Canyon. The bottom of Hualapai Canyon is only 1,000' below the trailhead.

After quickly reaching the bottom of Hualapai, the rest of the trail is a gentle descent. Most of the journey to Supai takes place along the base of Hualapai Canyon. Hualapai finally empties into Havasu Canyon, just below Havasu Springs. We visited the Springs, which are just a short trip up Cataract Canyon, the name for the upper part of Havasu Canyon. The Springs ensures that Havasu Creek is always full of water.

We reached Supai at 2:30, had a great milkshake, rested a while, then made a quick trip to Havasu Falls before dinner at Supai. Tim, Mehrdad and I shared room 18, which had a leaky toilet. I won the coin flip for a bed to myself, and Tim opted to sleep on the floor.

27 April 1986

Supai to Navajo Falls, Havasu Falls, Mooney Falls, farther downstream and back

Getting to Havasu Falls is easy. It's so pretty there that everyone in our party stayed at Havasu except for Mehrdad and me. Descending to the base of Mooney Falls, the next one downriver, is quite interesting. There are chains anchored to rock that you must hold onto to descend through a tunnel in the travertine. Adventurous sorts love this kind of action, but I was glad to be finished with this descent.

Then it started getting trickier. The first creek crossing below Mooney was waist-deep. We met another party who claimed that there was another crossing in a half-mile, with another crossing 3 miles beyond. Mehrdad and I decided to turn around. (See my 1989 Havasu trip for a log going further down the canyon.)

On the way back, we explored a side canyon, searching for the trail up Beaver Canyon unsuccessfully. I ended up exploring this side canyon twice, since I left my camera there and had to return from the base of Mooney Falls. I remember being very glad that I noticed my camera missing before I ascended Mooney, because I would have had to think really hard about whether my camera was worth another descent of Mooney!

We met the rest of the group at the top of Mooney Falls. They had finally decided to leave Havasu and explore Mooney before the day ended!

Between Mooney and Havasu there are neat caves, and a stunningly-placed mine that is 100' or so up the sheer cliff face. The mine comes complete with a metal ladder permanently affixed to the cliff face, that begins some 10-20' or so off the ground. The caves have iceland spar and quartz crystals galore.

After getting back to Supai at 3:25, and resting a while, I tried to track down where "The Man Who Walked Through Time" left Supai for his trek through all of the then-Grand Canyon Park. My notes are not intelligible to me now, but here they are in case they are of meaning to me on a future trip or someone else!

"Dead end on right - road fenced. Fenced on second approach, too - Easternmost two fenced - perhaps western ones or is it ok to go through barbed wire? I then ascended by the water pipe immediately west of Supai Lodge. Got to top of hill overlooking lodge. Still there is a sheer cliff about 1/3 down from the Esplanade. Perhaps one can get through it by going into the side canyon."

29 April 1986

Supai to Hualapai Hilltop

As always, the hike out comes too soon, but it is always the part I enjoy the most. This is the part that separates the men from the boys (or the women from the girls)! We left at 7:55 am, and got out at 12:25 pm and drove back home.

Detailed Trip Logs

26 April 1986

Hualapai Hilltop to Supai, Navajo Falls and Havasu Falls

Recording numberMileageTime arrivedTime leftAltitudeComments
00.0010:05 5200Hualapai Hilltop
17.451:10 3100Jct. Hualapai Canyon and Havasu Canyon. Took trail to springs.
28.501:32 3050Back at Jct.
49.902:30??3050Supai General Store. R&R at Lodge.
514.805:00 To Havasu Falls and back.

27 April 1986

Supai to Navajo Falls, Havasu Falls, Mooney Falls, farther downstream and back

Recording numberMileageTime arrivedTime leftAltitudeComments
00.008:30 3200Supai Lodge
11.158:529:023050M. Moshir heel pain
22.509:459:552650Base of Havasu Falls
33.8011:0011:152500Snack at base of Mooney Falls
44.2511:51 2400First creek crossing. Turn-around.
54.4511:59 2500Side Creek - search for Beaver Trail
64.6512:15 2600Failure! turn back.
75.0512:32 2500Back at Mooney Falls. I forgot camera at side creek and had to retrace steps.
85.451:001:302750Lunch at top of Mooney Falls.
107.202:472:553000Rest in shade almost to top of Navajo Falls
118.653:255:303250Supai Lodge
1210.206:07 3300Deadend.
1311.956:45 3300Back at Supai Lodge after exploring

28 April 1986

Supai to Hualapai Hilltop

Recording numberMileageTime arrivedTime leftAltitudeComments
00.007:55 3200Supai Lodge
11.808:35 3350Jct. Hualapai Canyon
24.559:5510:053900MMM rest stop.
35.5510:2910:404000TJC rest stop. Feet have hot spots from yesterday's hiking.
46.4010:5911:104100Rest stop.
57.9511:5312:034800Rest stop.
68.6012:25 5250Hualapai Hilltop.

Go To:
1989 Havasu hike | Supai fact sheet
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Copyright © 1996, 1997, 1998 by Tom Chester.
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Last update: 11 October 1998