The Thunder River Trail descends the north rim of the Grand Canyon above Granite Narrows. It traverses across the head of Deer Creek then enters the head of Bonita Creek before entering the Thunder River drainage. The last few miles of the route descends along Tapeats Creek to the Colorado River.
Begin this hike from the Indian Hollow Trailhead at the end of Forest Service Road 232. From the trailhead the track contours westward along Little Saddle then descends steeply, using switchbacks to enter the head of Deer Creek. The trail gradient lessens and the path turns eastward to begin a long traverse. Winding through the headwaters of Deer Creek the track crosses two small drainages before reaching Deer Creek. It parallels the creek for a half mile before crossing it and turning southward. A mile beyond Deer Creek the track reaches a junction with Bill Hall Trail.
Bill Hall Trail enters the path of Thunder River Trail from the northeast. The Thunder Creek Trail leads to the right at this junction. The track continues to contour the Deer Creek drainage now leading around the eastern headwaters of the canyon. Slightly more than three miles from the junction with Bill Hall Trail the Thunder Creek Trail turns westward. Then next mile and a half consist of a steep descent onto the Tonto Platform. After this descent the trail reaches a junction with the Deer Creek Trail.
At this second trail junction the trail leading to the right is the Deer Creek Trail. This scenic route leads through the narrows of the drainage to the Colorado River. Turn left to continue along the Thunder River Trail. The route leads eastward from this junction through Surprise Valley to another steep descent. At this point the trail enters the Tapeats Creek valley via Thunder River. The trail parallels the river for its duration, a half mile, to a confluence with Tapeats Creek.
Once it reaches Tapeats Creek the trail crosses the drainage and follows the eastern bank for a short distance. The route crosses Tapeats Creek several times as it leads through the narrow drainage. The trail ends two miles below the Tapeats Creek/Thunder River confluence at the Colorado River. There is no camping at the mouth of Tapeats Creek for backpackers.
Directions: From North Rim Entrance Station, Drive northward to Forest Service Road (FSR) 422 and turn left. Follow 422 to FSR 270 and turn left. Drive approximately 18 miles to FSR 425 and turn left. Follow this road 10 miles to FSR 232, which will bring you to the Thunder River Trailhead.
Elevation: 6,290 feet
Ending Elevation: 1,960 feet
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Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
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