Distance: 19 miles round-trip
Duration: 2 days
Elevation gain: 960 feet
Trailhead: Tanner Beach or Little Colorado River confluence
More route than trail, this path paralleling the Colorado River leads to the ruins of Ben Beamer’s cabin. Beamer, a prospector who arrived at the canyon around 1890, remodeled an Ancestral Puebloan (Anasazi) dwelling to fashion a cabin at the mouth of the Little Colorado River.
His trail followed part of the salt trail, a pilgrimage route used for centuries by Ancestral Puebloans and their descendants, the Hopi Indians. The route is rich in cultural history, but the real reward is at the Little Colorado River (LCR): The turquoise-blue waters are warm enough to soak in and edged with mud pools that are more fun than any spa treatment.
Backpackers can start the Beamer Trail at either end, but because of camping restrictions at the Little Colorado River, most will begin at Tanner Beach (accessible by the Tanner Trail from the South Rim), following bright red Dox sandstone cliffs that line the beach. At mile 4, the trail reaches Palisades Creek, the site of an old copper mine worked by Seth Tanner, where there’s a small campsite. From here, the trail makes a series of steep switchbacks, topping out on a bench of Tapeats sandstone. The cliffs are narrow in places, and the trail crosses several drainages, making it difficult to find routes.
Beamer’s cabin is on the west side of the LCR. Depending on the flow, you may be able to ford the LCR to the other side. Camping and fishing are prohibited near the confluence due to the archaeological resources and endangered native fish species found here.
© Kathleen Bryant from Moon Grand Canyon, 5th Edition