South Rim Trails
7,000 feet (2,134 m): New Hance trailhead
2,600 feet (792 m): Colorado River
8 miles (12.9 km): New Hance trailhead to the Colorado River
Washouts and rockslides require some route-finding skill. Hot and dry in summer. Stash water on way in for use on way out. Use instep crampons in winter.
An outcropping of Precambrian schist near Hance Rapid marks the beginning of Granite Gorge, an area of concern to early river runners because of dangerous rapids and difficult portages. Hakatai Shale forms the distinctive red rock along the lower stretch of Red Canyon. The east end of the Tonto Trail begins at the mouth of Red Canyon. John Hance, famous canyon guide and storyteller, arrived at the South Rim around 1883. Hance first built a trail down Hance Creek to the west, following a Havasupai Indian route. When his original trail washed out, he relocated it to its present location in Red Canyon. “You must understand,” Hance once warned a tourist, “that when you get to the bottom of the canyon and reach the shore of the Colorado River it is very warm. You can’t imagine how hot it is. Why, I’ll give my word, I’ve been down there when it was so hot it melted the wings off the flies.” “But,” asked an incredulous lady from New England, “how do the tourists stand it?” “Madame,” Hance replied, “I have never yet seen a tourist with wings!”