|View of Mooney Falls from the Bench Trail.|
The Bench Trail is another must-do hike for Havasu visitors that want to do more than just soak in the pools. A bit hard to find (there is no official trail head or signage), the Bench Trail begins by the cemetery above Havasu Falls with a short scramble to the top of a wide bench cut into the Redwall Limestone. Once on top, simply follow the well-defined trail downcanyon along the edge of the bench.
The views are much more expansive on the bench and you can get a better sense of the enormity of this major tributary of the Grand Canyon. Looking down on the falls of Havasu Creek offers a unique perspective and great photo opportunities. It's about 2 miles to an overlook above Mooney Falls, which is as far as we went. The trail continues however, probably at least to an overlook of Beaver Falls and the confluence with Beaver Canyon.
|The rarely hiked Bench Trail provides a fresh perspective on the wonders of Havasu Canyon.|
|Balancing on the edge above Havasupai Campground. According to legend, the campground used to be an Indian burial ground. Hector photo.|
|A closer look at Havasu Falls from the Bench Trail.|
|Bird's eye view of Mooney Falls from the Bench Trail.|
|This small natural bridge is just off the trail and is about 300 feet above the campground. Hector photo.|
|A small, easy-to-miss side trail leads to a couple of old and lonely Supai grave sites.|
After burning a couple of hours up on the Bench Trail, we decided to take advantage of the warmer temps (if you recall, we started this adventure in the snow!) and play around in the pools below Havasu Falls.
|Hector gets his feet wet.|
|Playtime at Havasu Falls.|
|Hector takes the full plunge at Havasu Falls.|
Once the sun dipped below the canyon wall and the air cooled off, we headed up Carbonate Canyon (a main side canyon heading east from the base of Havasu Falls) to explore an old lead-silver mine.
|Hector stands at the entrance to Bridal Veil Mine, the largest and most accessible mine in the Havasu area.|
|While the mine is relatively safe to explore, be aware of vertical shafts to lower levels and signs of minor cave-ins.|
|Lead mine in Carbonate Canyon. Note the narrow gauge rails still in place in the foreground.|
|Zone of mineralization on the ceiling of the Bridal Veil Mine. Visible minerals include calcite (larger white crystals), galena, and sphalerite (gray and metallic minerals).|
|A relic of the old mining days in the Grand Canyon.|
After fully exploring the main level of the mine, we returned to Havasu Falls for more late-evening photos.
Before climbing into our tents for the night, we attempted to photograph star trails with Hector's camera. Right when we figured out how to do it, his last battery pack died. Bummer.
Our only goal for day four was to get to our car at a decent time so we didn't get back home too late. We set a pretty stiff pace and made the hike from the campground to Hualapai Hilltop in about 4.5 hours. For the final steep grind (1,100 vertical feet in about 1.4 miles) from the Esplanade Bench to the hilltop, I decided to push myself a bit and vowed to catch up to the pack train carrying tourists that had passed us in Hualapai Canyon. I caught the mules about halfway up, but there was no reasonable way to get around them, so I just followed on the heels of the last one to the top.
Havasu is a great place for a family adventure. I spent a lot of time thinking about how much fun my kids and Susie would have here. My youngest should be ready to go in a few years--can't wait!
|Final shot of New Navajo and Fifty Foot Falls on the hike out.|
|Church in Supai Village.|
|Hector climbs the final switchback to Hualapai Hilltop.|