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Sat, April 04

Hiking to Havasupai Falls

Visitors from around the world hike to Havasupai Falls to swim and enjoy the turquoise waters. Loretta Yerian/WGCN

Visitors from around the world hike to Havasupai Falls to swim and enjoy the turquoise waters. Loretta Yerian/WGCN

GRAND CANYON, Ariz. - Hiking the Grand Canyon is a journey, an enjoyment, a thrill, a challenge, a mystery, and always an accomplishment.

My sister and I decided October is a perfect month for hiking and chose to spend a weekend hiking to Havasupai Falls. Havasupai Falls has four gorgeous waterfalls descending from sheer red rock cliffs.

The entrance to the Havasupai Falls hiking trail is roughly 65 miles north of Route 66, on a desolate stretch of road off Indian Road number 18, located between Seligman and Peach Springs, Arizona.

Indian Road 18 dead ends at Hualapai Hilltop. Nothing extravagant introduces the rim or the entrance to the Grand Canyon. Vehicles pull off anywhere and everywhere along the side of the road and a lone van advertises ICE COLD GATORADE AND WATER. Picket lines hold mules and horses waiting patiently to be on their way down the powdery trail.

My sister and I decided to hike 11 miles to the campground, spend the night, and hike back the following morning. It was a quick decision as most people spend two or more days at the falls once they arrive. This was evident by the number of vehicles parked along the side of the road. The handful of other hikers waiting to leave were busy adjusting their packs and taking pictures.

Much like the South Rim trailheads where the Grand Canyon National Park entrance and the famous Bright Angel trailhead lies, there are several options to hike into the canyon. Many people pack in their supplies, or hire mules to pack their gear and you have the option of riding in a helicopter.

Hiring mules to carry heavy packs seemed to be the most popular option at Havasupai Falls. This allowed hikers the freedom to explore and enjoy the canyon without the weight of their packs burdening them.

My sister and I decided to carry our camping gear and supplies. We fancy ourselves avid hikers who like to rough it.

We started our descent with enthusiasm and marveled at the hikers coming up the trail, all dusty and tired but still wearing their smiles.

The hike to Supai Village from the parking area at Hualapai Hilltop, covers eight miles. The toughest part of the hike is the first mile, going down switchbacks to reach the gravel and sandy bottom.

This was my second time hiking to Havasupai Falls and my sister's first. I was excited to share the beauty and magic of the falls with my sister. I had forgotten the camaraderie that binds you with your fellow hikers, knowing you have all experienced the same breathtaking moments along the trail and shared in the snacks and times of rest between the miles.

Storm clouds played peek a boo with the sun and light breeze cooled our faces. Yes, a perfect day for hiking. After reaching the bottom of the canyon, it is a six and a half mile hike to Supai Village.

Throughout the hike the canyon curves mysteriously and each passing mile is marked with the red and black walls slowly closing in as they grow taller and taller.

A sign signifies the last half mile to the village and the trickle of a creek can be heard in the echoes of the canyon walls.

After paying our entrance and camping fees at Supai village, we had an additional two miles to hike to the campground and our first sight of the falls. Navajo Falls is small in comparison to its bigger and more famous cousins Supai Falls and Mooney Falls, but no less beautiful. Beaver Falls, the last of the four falls, is an additional three-mile hike from the campground and we decided that journey would have to wait until our next trip.

There is nothing quite as breathtaking as when you walk eight miles in a dry, dusty canyon bed and finally behold the clandestine turquoise waters and pounding roar of waterfalls, especially ones as majestic and lovely as those at Havasupai Falls.

You realize it was worth every step of your hike for a glimpse of tumbling waters cascading in rushes over drop off cliffs. As we settled into our tent that evening, we fell asleep snuggled between Supai and Mooney Falls and listened as they lulled us to sleep with their sweet lullabies.

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