Rock Garden

Pipe Creek — The bottom section of Bright Angel Trail follows the stream to the river. The beach just upriver from the mouth is where most rafting groups land to do their exchange. It’s another mile to Bright Angel Campground and Phantom Ranch crossing the Silver Bridge, and an extra mile to follow the River Trail to the Kaibab and the old Black Bridge.

The original section of trail leaving the bed going up to Indian Garden was called the Devil’s Corkscrew (old trails description). This original segment of many short switchbacks has been abandoned but some of it can be spotted below as the current trail goes up toward Garden Creek on a long traverse. Old photos are interesting to compare.

The upper part of Pipe Creek, upstream from the Bright Angel Trail and below the Tonto Trail section, is almost inaccessible due to a pair of chockstone obstacles. One of these obstacles is a short distance up Pipe Creek from the Trail (still a nice diversion on a hike out with a pleasant waterfall), and the other jams the narrow gap at the lower end of the upper basin ringed by Tapeats cliffs. But it's possible to get into this upper basin from the east side of the east branch. There is water here and it is quite an interesting place to visit - relatively mysterious and unknown even to most hikers. Harvey B. included this in his explorations, and Wayne Tomasi has been here and written about the access. This access was once an Anasazi trail and it seems the deer still travel this up to the current generation, and it is very nearly a trail. Stay close under the Tapeats cliff and follow this track above the vertical drop and the sound of running water far below, with an easy descent to the stream after this very long (amazing) traverse.

An alternate route is a broken chimney in the middle of the west wall of the upper basin - not an easy climb for a short person with a backpack from my experience.

2007 May - Descending Skeleton Point Route and looking for the access into upper Pipe Creek basin.

2011 October - Canyoneering attempt following info from the new book Grand Canyoneering. Good first rappel off the Tapeats pourover but rope stuck, and exit the west chimney.


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