The New Hance trailhead
is between Moran Point and the Buggeln picnic area and is indicated by two "no parking" signs on the highway. Getting
to the trailhead is a challenge since there is no parking lot there.
If you don't have an extra person to help with transportation, your best bet
is to park in the Moran Point parking lot and try to hitch a ride to the
trailhead. Otherwise you could leave your pack at the trailhead, park
at Moran Point, and then walk the 1.2 miles back to the trailhead.
When you start your hike, you walk north from the trailhead down an easy,
fairly level road almost a quarter of a mile until you come to the New Hance
Trail sign. After this, the trail descends rapidly and has numerous
step-downs and some boulder hopping. It is one of the more challenging
trails from the South Rim to the river. The dominant feature on the
top half is Coronado Butte. You switchback your way down to a green
area that continues north until you reach the eastern base of Coronado
Butte. After this, the trail loops to the east and then to the north
to a high promenade that has a flat place suitable for camping. This
seems like it will be the break in the redwall, but it is not. The
trail loops once again to the east and then back to the north to the actual
break. There is a large meadow at the base of the redwall with a nice
flat area suitable for camping. When you reach the north side of the
meadow, the trail loops back to the east. I found this easterly
section to be one of the harder ones because it is steep with slick footing
of red dirt. When you cross a dry creek bed, the trail turns westerly
and heads to the actual creek. The creek has a smooth, flat-rock area
that makes a nice camping spot. The creek only runs above ground for a
few hundred yards, so be sure to filter water before it goes underground.
Half way between the creek and the river you will come to a large, brown
boulder on the east side of the trail. The correct route going toward Hance
Rapids at the initial large brown boulder is an S-route: first left (west
side) and then right (east side). Just before the second turn (east
side), there are cairns on the west side, but do not follow these.
Look for the correct cairn on the east side of the creek bed. The
trail then goes up above the creek bed for a while until finally returning
to the creek bed. Taking the correct route will allow you to avoid a
six-foot drop-down in the middle of the trail and a dangerous ten-foot
drop-down on the west side of the trail. After this the creek bed is
primarily pea gravel, which makes for a tiring hike to the rapids.
There is a nice camping spot about two or three hundred yards east of Hance