Boucher Trail Hiking

Boucher Trail

General Description

The Boucher (pronounced Boo-shay) Trail is not for the faint of heart.  It will challenge even experienced canyon hikers.  This trail traverses what seems like an eternity on top of the Redwall, and once you reach the break in the Redwall, you will experience a knee-destroying descent, making you pause and wonder if it is all worth it.  The answer is yes, absolutely.  Boucher Trail provides seclusion and spectacle, giving strong-willed hikers a view that not many get to see.  Grand Canyon seems to recognize your hard work and rewards you with amazing side-canyons, access to trails which look down on one of the most intense and spectacular rapids on the river, wildlife encounters, and a chance to relax on the beaches of the mighty Colorado River.

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Getting to the Boucher Trailhead

The Boucher Trailhead is actually off the Hermit Trail.  Hikers can drive Hermits Road December 1st through February 28th, but any other time of the year, the road has restricted access and you must obtain a permit from the backcountry office, or ride the free NPS shuttle bus.  Boucher Trail junction is 2.7 miles from the Hermit Trailhead.

History of the Boucher Trail

Boucher Trail was built by Louis Boucher, who lived alone in the Grand Canyon for 20 years.  He first got to the canyon in 1891 and initially prospected for mineral deposits.  Boucher soon realized that the real money was in the tourism industry, and thus began guiding visitors into the canyon.  Labeled a “hermit”, because he lived alone, he was, in fact, a very crucial part of the growth of tourism within Grand Canyon National Park.  Louis Boucher is also the namesake of the Hermit Trail.

Boucher Trail Mountains

2 Best Day Hikes on the Boucher Trail

Boucher Trail offers great day hiking options.  This trail is difficult and is a very big difference from the typical day-hiking trails on the South Rim.  Hikers may encounter wildlife, big canyon walls, and most importantly, solitude.

Below are the primary options for day hiking the Boucher Trail:

Destination Miles (roundtrip) Elev Difficulty Style
Dripping Spring 7 mi 1240 ft Moderate-Strenuous Out and Back
Yuma Point 10.4 mi 1220 ft Moderate-Strenuous Out and Back

1. Dripping Spring

To reach Dripping Spring, you will start your hike down the Hermit Trail, after 1.5 miles, look for the junction for Dripping Spring.  You will be hiking along a cliff’s edge with big drops-offs, therefore hikers with vertigo should take extra care in this section.  After traversing the edge, you will be hiking over boulder slides and slowly gain elevation to reach Dripping Spring.  The spring is marked by a sign and is  a wonderful oasis inside the Grand Canyon.  This water source is not permanent, and it is recommended that you pack in enough water for the entire hike.  When ready, return to the South Rim the same way you came.  Boucher Trail is great for those that want to see a less trafficked part of the canyon and will be rewarded with tremendous views.

2. Yuma Point

Head to Dripping Spring junction, where you will see the Boucher trail heading north along the Supai formation.  You will be traversing the Supai, and staying mostly level as you hike along the ridge line.  The views are incredible the entire time and there are amazing rock formations and pinyon pines and junipers that appear to be gardened by ancient bonsai artists.  Yuma Point offers your first view to the west and there is an established, but primitive campsite.  Looking east to west, you’ll be stunned by the views; this is also a great place for a well-deserved lunch.  Keep an eye open for the California Condor soaring high above you.  There is no water along this route and the ridge line can be particularly toasty as there is no shade.  When you are ready, head back to the south rim on the same trail.

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Guided day hike tours and multi-day packages allow visitors the opportunity to make the most of their time in Grand Canyon National Park and to do it hassle-free. Guided tours include gear (backpack, trekking poles, crampons in winter), meals, accommodations on multi-day tours, local transportation, and a professional Grand Canyon hiking guide. Through their knowledge, stories, and personal passion, guides can bring a place to life in a way that’s much more difficult to do on your own. Read more about Grand Canyon Hiking Tours.

 

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2 Boucher Trail Backpacking Trips

The Boucher Trail is one of the best backpacking trails in the park with amazing opportunities for world class backpacking trips.  With panoramic views and leg-quaking descents, backpackers will experience this primitive trail as Louis Boucher did back in the day.  If you have the time and resources, and sleeping under the stars, scrambling up and over rocks to the Colorado River, and experiencing the silence of the Grand Canyon is your idea of a thrill, then this is the best backpacking you can get.

Route Miles (roundtrip) Difficulty Campgrounds
Boucher Rapid/ Creek 21.6 mi Strenuous Boucher Rapid CG
Boucher Creek CG
Boucher- Hermit Loop 25.1 mi Strenuous Boucher Rapid CG
Boucher Creek CG
Hermit Creek CG

1. Boucher Rapid/ Creek (3-4 days)

Begin at the Hermit Trailhead, follow downhill for 1.5 miles to the Dripping Spring junction, then one more mile to the Boucher Trail junction.  Traverse above the Redwall past Yuma Point and around until you reach the break in the Redwall.  Here, the trail is crumbly and knee-throbbing, and drops 1,400 feet in just a mile.  Continue on the Boucher Trail past the Tonto Trail, and you will reach Boucher Creek.  There is a campground at the creek, tucked under the trees.  You can also follow the creek downstream where it flows into the Colorado River.  Boucher Rapid provides many great campsites.

On the next day, you can hike back up to Boucher Creek campground and drop your pack for a day hike.  If you go toward the Colorado River for about half a mile, you can reach the Tonto Trail going east.  Follow that for 2.5 miles to look down on Crystal Rapids, one of the most impressive rapids on the river.  Spend the night under the amazing stars, and see why Grand Canyon earns the title of a Dark Sky Park.  When ready to return to the rim, get an early start and make sure your water reservoirs are filled to the brim from the creek.  This is one of the toughest ascents in the entire park.

2. Boucher to Hermit Loop (4-5 days)

Descend down the Boucher Trail to the Colorado River as described above, and spend one or two nights down at the rapid or creek, or both. On day three, get on the Tonto Trail, weaving in and out of side canyons, and make sure to spend a little extra time at Travertine Canyon, which offers a good side hike up the dry tributary.  There are great views along the way of the Colorado River and spots to sit in the sun for a while.  The Tonto will drop to Hermit Creek where the campground is waiting.

If you thought Boucher Creek was amazing, wait until you see the amazing Tapeats sandstone of Hermit Creek, as the trail weaves in and out of the creek down to the river.  Hermit Rapid is only 1.5 miles from the campground and is totally worth the trip down.  Another good option once camp is set up is to explore the historic Hermit Camp.  To finish the trip, you will be heading up the Hermit Trail, which is steep, rocky and sometimes unforgiving.  Again, get an early start, and you are able to fill up your water at Santa Maria Spring before your final ascent to the rim.

Join a Guided Grand Canyon Backpacking Trip

Joining a Grand Canyon backpacking tour is a worry-free, adventurous way to experience Grand Canyon. With your gear, meals, local transportation, permits, and fees taken care of for you, you can travel light and focus 100% on enjoying the hiking experience, while the guide company takes care of everything else. Also, by going with local experts you’ll enjoy a greater level of safety and gain a much better understanding of the history and ecology of this remarkable region. Read more about a guided Grand Canyon backpacking trips.

 

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