If you don’t really care to read about hiking to Beaver Falls, that’s okay! But you should scroll through to see some of these super cool photos of an unreal hike! 🙂 Beaver Falls is not really a large of a waterfall like Mooney Falls or Havasu Falls but rather a series of smaller waterfalls flowing in steps and pools down into a semi-larger waterfall.
The falls are really pretty, but the journey there is what makes these falls even more worth it! I know I said the hike to Havasupai was all about the journey as well, but…that one is more painful. Ha! This journey is somewhat more leisurely, shady at times, beautiful to boot, and way more enjoyable without all your heavy backpacking gear! At times, I felt like I was in Jurassic Park!
Now, Beaver Falls isn’t someplace you’d really go in the same day as hiking into Havasupai. So having completed the 10-mile trek down and setting up camp already, this is a fun 3-mile hike to do the second day from your campsite!
You do need to get wet at some point, which was something I was concerned about before the hike, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. It’s part of the fun, but I don’t really recommend young kids for this hike.
And even if you don’t think you want to do this hike, like I said before, scroll down for some AMAZING photos on what to expect during the hike! It was labor intensive to get all these photos up, but I didn’t mind because I think it was worth showing. I swear you will be awestruck by how crazy pretty this hike is! 🙂
Read on for more!
Travel Pearl: Have a good pair of water shoes, and even better–water hiking shoes so you don’t have to keep changing back and forth into your hiking shoes! Yes, you will need them to cross the streams!
What Trail Should I Take?
I admit I didn’t do my due diligence and look up how to do this hike before we left. I thought my husband had it mapped out with his Garmin InReach Explorer (Global Satellite Communicator) so I didn’t really bother to look as much. We watched a few YouTube videos as well, but I also admit I was not paying as much attention as hubby was–probably because I was still post-vacation withdrawing while trying to set up my blog and posts on Bora Bora. Oops! 😀
The YouTube videos are a good idea to get a sense of what you’re getting yourself into. We may even upload one of our own whenever I get the time to make them! Since I made our Alaskan Cruise video, I haven’t had time to work on Maui, Singapore, Taiwan, or Hong Kong footage in the past year! In a way, I’m almost glad we don’t have tons of Bora Bora ones to sift through because we lost our GoPro in Bora Bora. 🙁
Losing that GoPro was a huge disappointment on our trip. 🙁 But hey, that just gives me another reason to go back to Bora Bora! 😀 #whenlifegivesyoulemons
Anyway, back to THE TRAIL.
The simple answer is: there isn’t one perfect trail!
There are several small trails you can take to get to Beaver Falls, all leading in the same general direction. We actually came back a slightly different route than we went and got so confused how we missed parts of it coming back! It can be non-intuitive at certain points, if you’re like me, you’ll wonder if you’re going the right way more than once. So I’ll give you a few tips on what I remember!
Follow the Creek
To get to Beaver Fall, you have to get to the base of Mooney Falls and follow the creek down into the canyon. If you can’t get down to Mooney Falls for some reason, then sorry, reading about this hike is moot point. 🙁 And yes, we did encounter some people who got to the tunnel and ladders to climb down the semi-vertical wall and majorly freaked out and had to crawl back out the ONE WAY TUNNEL against traffic. Sigh. The good thing is, you can still enjoy Havasu Falls and even trek back up to New Navajo Falls which won’t be as hard to reach!
Now if you’re at the base of Mooney, you’ll see the creek continue down into the canyon. Follow it on the left side of the bank when looking downstream. I am convinced there is a trail that follows alongside the creek further into the canyon, but try as we did to follow this creek, we somehow hit an end very soon. When I say very soon, I mean, I could still hear Mooney Falls in the background. We weren’t sure if this is where we were supposed to cross the stream to the other side and continue because it seemed a little too early and there didn’t really seem to be a trail on the otherwise! But I think maybe you could cross it? Let me know if you know! 🙂
Alternatively, there are trails that go up to higher grounds but still follow the creek. We took this route and walked uphill, climbing over some rocks and brush until we were high above the creek in the canyon. The dirt path isn’t always clear and at times wandered farther from the creek than I felt comfortable and made me feel uneasy because I didn’t know where it would end up. There’s also a lot of side brush, dried trees, and prickly stuff so just be aware. I wore shorts and got scratched quite a bit, but nothing dreadful.
At some point, I looked down to see the creek and I saw other people walking down there ALONG the creek! What the heck! How did they get down there?! I will never know, but I think we somehow ended up on that trail on the way back! In any case, the trail above the creek also eventually comes down to the creek bank again after a semi-rocky climb down.
BOTTOM LINE: If you are near the creek, you’re fine and heading the right way. The trail is about 2.5-3 miles from Mooney Falls.
Crossing the Creek
Once you’re back down along the creek in the shade, you’ll eventually come to an end where you have to enter and cross the creek. There is no mistake you need to cross here because the canyon walls are ahead of you and the creek bank ends. It’s a fairly wide crossing and some people play around here taking pictures near a very low waterfall and the canyon walls. The water is milky blue and very pretty here so stop and enjoy a little!
We changed into our water shoes here, and the water will be just a little above the knees at the most. I opted to stay in my water shoes for the rest of the hike because I knew more water crossings would be coming up. I wish my shoes were more durable for hiking, but they were just some cheap ones I got online. It wasn’t too bad hiking in these as long as you’re careful, but if I were to do it again, I’d probably get better shoes.
The trail veers away from the creek for a little bit once you cross, but you’ll find the creek again soon enough with many little bridge crossings over wooden logs/planks. Some of these you’ll get slightly wet on, but the bridge crossings help and you won’t really get too knee deep.
The Grapevine Jungle
One of the most magical parts of the trail, in my opinion, is when it changes landscape into a large field of wild grapes and their giant leaves/vines. In the valley of the red canyon, this overgrown jungle of bright green leaves just leaves you feeling like you’re in another world! I mean…what?!
Sometimes the path doesn’t look all that clear either because of all the overgrown leaves but you can usually make it out. Watch out, as sometimes you’ll have to duck under the leaves too because they are so tall. The leaves do brush against your legs, and it was at this point that I started regretting not putting my shorts back on because I thought we’d have to wade through more water and staying in just my bathing suit should be fine. Ehh…nope! But we had such a pace going that I just didn’t want to stop to get my stuff out.
We started running into people coming the opposite direction who were heading back to Mooney Falls and the campsite. Some of them were tour groups, and I’m guessing they must have gone earlier in the day! They made me feel a little better because for a long while we didn’t see anyone else on the trail.
The trail starts heading up again and at one point you’ll see a large wooden plank to cross a small gorge. With my fear of heights, I absolutely hated crossing it, but it had to be done! Just don’t look down or hesitate!
The Palm Tree
The wild grape maze starts to clear up and you’ll start to see the creek again. At one point, I remember kind of climbing down a really steep side of the mountain and a lot of red dirt heading down near the creek again.
After hiking a good length, we found the crucial landmark. We had run into a lady earlier who said, “Go left when you go past the palm tree. Don’t go up the ladder.”
Wait, did she say a PALM TREE?? What the heck would a palm tree be doing in the middle of this Arizona Canyon? And what ladder? We seriously thought she might have been making this tree up.
Well. There was a palm tree. A single solitary palm tree guarding what looked like an opening to a secret oasis. *cue dramatic music*
Passing through a little tunnel to the palm tree, there is a small little oasis of water with some super clear water here. You’ll also face the critical fork in the road. It’s not a literal fork in the road, but here you’ll have to decide one of two routes:
- Climb “the ladder” up the side of the canyon wall and continue hiking above to get to the bottom of Beaver Falls where picnic benches are.
- Cross the creek (the water is possibly as high as your waist here) and hike to the top of Beaver Falls.
We chose option 2 because the lady earlier had said it was a hard hike going up the ladder and around. After doing the hike, I have to say, I kind of wish I had gone up the ladder to see the view of Beaver Falls from the bottom and the other side. It was cool to do option 2, as well and see it from the top, but I don’t think we could see the entire cascade of falls into the bottom pool as much.
I slightly regret option 2 in hindsight, but when we were there, we were pretty tired and didn’t really feel like climbing up higher with all our stuff. Another thing to consider is not to bring so much stuff with you on this hike. However, my husband wanted to bring his DSLR and you will need to carry some water with you and maybe even your hiking shoes if you change into water shoes, and everything adds up.
The Top of Beaver Falls
From the top of Beaver Falls, you can still get down to the bottom, but you’ll have to hug the canyon wall and kind of rock climb down. With my husband’s backpack that he had hauled with his DSLR all the way there, I don’t think we wanted to grip the canyon wall along the falls with our packs all the way down. So we played in the waters here at the top and observed some of the smaller waterfalls while looking down into the canyon.
It was still a beautiful, magical spot, and I highly recommend checking out Beaver Falls for those who are adventurous and active! I am not sure if there is a lot of direct sunlight in the canyon at some point in the day, but when we were there around 2pm, the area was pretty much in shade from the canyon walls. It might be warmer to be here a little earlier in the day or when the sun is more directly overhead. The water is COLD!
Travel Pearl: The park ranger might be here checking off groups, so be sure to have your wrist bands on and account for the people in your group. He’ll ask how many in your party and check the dates on your band, as well as give you the general rules of the area–namely, no jumping from falls (some people are still going to do it), be careful, no graffiti hand prints on the canyon wall (which I am utterly appalled at).
If you read my post on getting to Mooney Falls, I included a travel pearl about how it’s a good idea to play at Mooney Falls on your way back from Beaver Falls. I still think that’s true. It would be a good idea to get out to Beaver Falls a little earlier, since it does take some time to figure out the trail and it’s not that close to Mooney Falls.
You do want to give yourself enough time when heading back from Beaver Falls if you do want to chill at Mooney Falls a little bit before climbing back up to the campsite. AND, you might want to account for some time in possibly getting lost because I know we thought we were going the wrong way a few times! It’s a good thing we also had the Garmin InReach Explorer to help make sure we were heading in the right direction since there is no reception out there. But my husband definitely noticed that marked trail we took getting there didn’t line up with our route back!
I think an hour and a half is a safe amount of time to allow yourselves to return. But give or take a little bit depending how fast or slow you might be, how much you are carrying, how many people you are going with.
We definitely went back a different route and crossed a different stream we didn’t even remember before! I know we also skipped a bunch of the previous small bridges that we had cross on the way there, and we were so baffled as to why we couldn’t find those anymore. Other people who were returning with us at the same time also appeared perplexed that they had not come the same way once we were past the wild grapes. I think we actually returned in a faster amount of time!
Travel Pearl: Do plan to be out of the Mooney Falls area before there is no more light in the day! And if you do plan to stay that late, consider having your head lamp with you too, because it will be DARK out there!
Overall, it is a beautiful 3-mile hike with rewarding waterfalls in the end. It’s definitely on my list of top hikes I’ve ever done. And even though I haven’t done too many crazy hikes, I know this one is pretty special and I will be hard pressed to find a similar one any time, any where soon! 🙂
Additional updates: I know I’ve been slacking on writing in my blog, but it’s because we are planning our next vacation! It’s been eating up a lot more time than any other vacation we’ve planned just because it’s my first time to Europe outside the UK! My hope is to complete the Havasupai series this month, including a helpful packing list after experiencing my first backpacking trip. And I will be catching up on the island of Moorea in Tahiti too. Stay tuned, and thanks for reading if you made it this far! 🙂