The Boucher Trail
Detailed Route Description
On this page you'll find my route description of the Boucher Trail. Note that this is not
part of my main trip narrative for our Grand Canyon 2010 backpack. Rather, this page is intended as a somewhat dry route description page for those requiring a straightforward description of how to hike the Boucher Trail. To go the main narrative of the backpack we did, click here.
The Boucher Trail is one of the eight trails that provide access between the South Rim and the inner Grand Canyon. Of those eight, it is often considered one of the most difficult. If you canvass around in guidebooks and on the internet, you'll find many different opinions on this trail. This description constitutes yet another. For what it's worth, my executive summary of the Boucher Trail is this: it's somewhat remote, it's rough in a few spots, but overall it isn't too bad. In comparison to something like the South Kaibab or Bright Angel, yes, it's quite a bit rougher than those. But relative to the wider hiking world, maybe not so bad. The Boucher Trail gets much of its bad reputation from two steep sections that are encountered along its length. Again, these sections are described in various accountings as either a piece of cake or as exposed, frightening climbs.
The high level description is straightforward: the Boucher Trail contours high along the west side of Hermit Canyon, then over to Travertine Canyon, then down into the drainage of Boucher Creek, where it ends at Boucher Creek itself.
Describing the start of the Boucher Trail is a bit less straightforward: Most people access the Boucher Trail from Hermit's Rest or the Waldron Trail, and connect to it by accessing a connector trail that leads to Dripping Springs. Technically speaking, however, the Boucher Trail actually starts above Dripping Springs at a trailhead that almost no one uses anymore. From that trailhead, the Boucher leads through a bit of forest at the rim before switchbacking through Kaibab, Toroweap, and Coconino formations down past Dripping Springs. However, almost no one ever hikes this upper portion of the Boucher Trail anymore: the road access to the trailhead apparently has been closed for some time, and anyone wanting to do the Boucher Trail from this trailhead will have to walk a bunch of extra miles along old forest tracks to get to it.
So, I'll describe the Boucher Trail starting from the Hermit Trail / Waldron Junction, which is a point through which probably 95+% of the people doing the Boucher will come.
The trail to Dripping Springs traverses along the head of Hermit Gorge. This is a spectacular section of trail, contouring along the very edge of the Esplanade at the top of the sheer, red cliffs of the Supai Group. This section is quite airy in spots, but the trail is mostly level and is a very nice path with good footing.
Soon after completing the traverse of the head of the gorge, the trail arrives at a junction. Straight ahead leads to Dripping Springs. Turning right heads down towards the inner Grand Canyon. Essentially, this junction is where you actually join with the Boucher Trail proper.
The Boucher Trail heads north from here, following along the bench on top of the Esplanade on the western side of Hermit Canyon. Initially the bench is quite wide and broad, and the path leads easily and nicely through this section. Further north, the bench narrows and its slope becomes steeper, and is more littered with large boulders and such that has fallen from above. The trail contours along this slope, and is now rougher and in places somewhat exposed. It is not as exposed as the section around the head of Hermit Gorge, though.