Route: Deer Creek Lollipop (AZ)

Submitted by sstroeer on Thu, 11/03/2022 - 08:38am
Utah, US
28.8 mi
Vertical Gain
5,600 ft

Deer Creek from Indian Hollow, via the Thunder River Trail, is a classic marathon+ distance loop in the Grand Canyon.  This is remote Grand Canyon backcountry with zero infrastructure; be prepared to be fully self-sufficient.  The loop is popular with backpackers but rarely gets done in a push -- no wonder, because seeing Thunder River, Tapeats Creek and the Deer Creek Narrows will make you want to stop your watch and spend the night in there! 

Thunder River is a mere half mile long which makes it one of the shortest rivers in the US, and an anomaly where a river is the tributary to a creek vs vice versa! Deer Creek features an amazing narrows section right above the Colorado River, and should both be savored and treated with respect -- at least one fatality has been reported from a hiker falling from the narrow, ledgy trail into the narrows far below. 

To complete this loop, start and finish at the road at Indian Hollow. You can go clockwise or counterclockwise (the author of this route went clockwise).  Note there is a mandatory out-and-back along the top of the Deer Creek Narrows; do NOT skip this section, you'd be shorting yourself of ~ a mile of trail time and the principal reason for running this loop.  The out-and-back finishes at the exit of the Narrows; you do not need to descend the switchbacks to the Colorado River - though you may want to, if you haven't visited Deer Creek's spectacular waterfall before.

Be aware of canyon conditions. There is no water on the Esplanade unless the potholes are full from recent rains; from late April through October, you may be battling extreme temperatures with minimal available shade. Know before you go and respect the Grand Canyon.