The South Bass
Trailhead is located in a remote area about 30 miles northwest of Grand
Canyon Village. Primary access is Kaibab National Forest road # 328.
This unpaved byway is not shown accurately on most topo maps, so a road map
of the Tusayan Ranger District of the Kaibab National Forest will be useful.
Forest Service road # 328 is rough and rocky and sections can become
impassible during wet weather. A high clearance vehicle is
recommended, and four wheel drive might be required if the road is muddy.
Driving to the Bass Trailhead can offer almost as much adventure as the
Normal access to Forest Service road # 328 is via Rowe Well Road from Grand
Canyon Village. The park kennel is the best landmark. Rowe Well
Road goes from the west end of the Village to the kennel and continues south
to the park boundary. This road can be difficult to locate, so
inquiring locally might save time. F.S. # 328 can also be accessed
from Highway 64 south of the park. turn west at the last possible
intersection (at the signs for Apache Riding Stables) before entering the
park or obtain direction at the Tusayan District Ranger Station.
Drive Rowe Well
Road about three miles south to the park boundary. A sign announces
entry to Kaibab National Forest. Stay left (southeast) at the first
fork, cross the railroad tracks and continue another mile to the
intersection with F.S. # 328. Turn right (west) on # 328 toward
Pasture Wash and the Bass Trail. Drive about 16 miles to a gate that
marks entry to the Havasupai Indian Reservation and the end of F.S. # 328.
The Havasupai Tribe charges a fee (usually $25) to cross their land and
occasionally post a tribal member at the gate to collect. This station
is not staffed full time, and if nobody seems to be in evidence simply pass
through the gate and continue about 1.7 miles to a four way intersection.
The road degenerates markedly at this junction. Turn right (northeast)
toward Pasture Wash, follow the road about 1.9 miles to the Forest Service
boundary fence. Continue another half a mile to the park boundary
fence and cattle guard. Please help keep cows out of the park by
closing this gate after passing through. Keep driving north to the
ruins of the old Pasture Wash ranger station. This outpost has not
been staffed for many years and no assistance is available. Maintain
the northerly heading for 3.6 rutted, rocky miles to the rim. Be
forewarned: The road north of the four way intersection can be rendered
impassible by deep mud during periods of heavy rain or snow melt.
A well defined descending
traverse gets hikers through the Kaibab and Toroweap formations. The
trail passes an old fence and follows the rim of the Coconino a short
distance north before starting down rocky switchbacks to the esplanade
platform at the top of the Supai Formation. The Royal Arch route
leaves the Bass Trail and starts west where the trail comes to the
Esplanade, the junction marked with a large cairn. Stay right at this
intersection and follow the Bass Trail north across the terrace east of
Mount Huethawali. The route traverses near the Supai rim for about a
mile to a steep break that allows passage to the slopes below.
Dropping below the Esplanade, the trail rounds a promontory and descends the
Supai ledges south toward the bed of Bass Canyon. Once established in
the drainage the route follows the bottom of Bass Canyon through the Redwall.
The path leaves the drainage and descends most of the Tonto Group rocks via
the slopes east of and above the bed of Bass Canyon, eventually returning to
the bottom of the canyon just above the Tonto Trail junction. The
Tonto Trail is marked by large cairns. Below the Tonto the trail
continues down Bass Canyon, crossing and re-crossing the drainage as it
winds around various obstructions. This section can be confusing, but
the trail stays as close to the bed of the canyon as the terrain allows, so
any disorientation shouldn't last long. An impassable fall blocks
access to the River at the mouth of Bass Canyon. Watch for the place
the trail leaves the bed of the drainage, going west a short distance to a
large cairn marking a shortcut that allows passage down a rock dotted ravine
to the Ross Wheeler and River below. The ravine route can be
cumbersome and this shortcut may be bypassed by continuing another couple
minutes west until a gentler path descends to the River opposite the
historic fire place.
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