Features: Birding — River/Creek — Views — Wildflowers — Wildlife
Dogs: No Dogs
The New Hance Trail begins approximately 16 miles east of the junction of Desert View Drive and the South Entrance Road. Park at Moran Point and walk west, or park at the first pullout east of the Buggeln picnic area. This pullout is on the south side of the road and from here walk east, to the "No Parking" sign which marks the mile path that will take you to the trailhead proper.
The New Hance Trail lies within a primitive use area and is thus recommended only for highly experienced canyon hikers. It is not maintained and may be the most difficult established trail on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.
Today's trail very closely follows the 1894 original alignment. Multiple scrambles and short down climbs are the norm as the trail traverses a series of ledges through the Kaibab and Toroweap. The Coconino is defined by obscurity; a stretch of trail which could be difficult to navigate at night and near impossible to navigate after significant snowfall. Below the Coco, at a grassy saddle, the character of the trail suddenly changes as it plunges into a dry wash through the Supai. Route finding skills are required through the Supai section: a braided network of trails wander in and out of the wash. Any of these trails will take hikers to the top of the Redwall Limestone (Red Canyon Overlook), where it leaves the creek bed and starts a difficult traverse to the east, about one mile in length, through the lower part of the Supai layer. The trail has been obliterated by rockslides in shallow ravines through which the trail meanders during this traverse. A knob at the top of the Redwall Limestone marks the top of the descent.
Once through the Redwall, the trail runs down the nose of a rounded ridgeline that parallels the creek bed far below. Though the terrain appears gentle from above, don't be deceived: the trail angles down sharply with very few switchbacks until the crumbly rock layers allow access into the bottom of Red Canyon.
From the intersection with the creek bed to the Colorado River the dry creek bottom is the trail, with minor spur trails bypassing short pour-offs in a few places (all bypasses are on the east side of the creek). The creek bed terrain is a mix of gravel and boulders. A few yards before reaching the river, the East Tonto
Trail heading west intersects the New Hance Trail at the base of a large sand dune. The Escalante
Route begins to the east. Both intersections are unmarked and can be difficult to find.