Distance: 8 miles from the trailhead to the Colorado River, plus 2.75 miles on intersecting trails to reach the trailhead; 21.5 miles total round-trip
Duration: 3 days or more
Elevation loss: 2,520 feet from rim to river
Effort: Very strenuous
Trailhead: Dripping Springs junction
To reach the Boucher Trail, you’ll need to start on the Hermit and Dripping Springs Trails, adding 2.75 miles to your trip. Sections of the trail are hard to follow, and route-finding experience is necessary. The trail isn’t recommended for day hikers, but experienced backpackers will have expansive views of the Inner Gorge and Granite Rapids, along with the chance to explore the ruins of an old mining camp.
Louis D. Boucher, the French-Canadian “hermit” who inspired so many Grand Canyon place names, built this trail to his copper mine and cabin in the 1890s. One modern-day drawback: the nearly constant drone of tour helicopters during daylight hours.
The Boucher Trail begins on a piñon- and juniper-studded Supai shelf above Hermit Creek Canyon. As the trail edges the canyon, Hermit Camp and Hermit Trail come into view below. At 2.5 miles, below Yuma Point, the Colorado River and Granite Rapids are visible. There are fine campsites along this slickrock shelf.
The trail continues west toward the head of Travertine Canyon, where a very steep and dangerous descent leads down through the Supai layers to the floor of the side canyon. From here the trail climbs north toward Whites Butte, leading toward a saddle where you’ll begin the final descent through the Redwall to Boucher Creek, another 1.5 miles.
En route, you’ll pass the junction with eastbound Tonto Trail; bear left to continue to the creek. The side canyon is narrow but pleasant, with room for a couple of tent sites not far from the ruins of Louis Boucher’s cabin. Creek water must be treated before drinking.
To reach the Colorado River, follow the creek bed another 1.5 miles. As Topaz Canyon joins Boucher Creek, cairns mark the route of the intersecting westbound Tonto Trail. Bear right, continuing down Boucher Creek. Dark gray Vishnu schist—the canyon’s oldest and deepest rock layer—forms the creek bed as the side canyon approaches the river and Boucher Rapids. The beach has room for a few campsites.
© Kathleen Bryant from Moon Grand Canyon, 5th Edition