Start of the Trail
The small trailhead is set a little way back from the rim, on the right side of the entrance road, marked by an information board with map, from which a quite narrow path winds through the juniper bushes over a short plateau then drops very steeply down a narrow, shady ravine - an upper branch of Tanner Canyon
. The surroundings are overgrown by trees and bushes, and the trail gets very little sunlight, as it descends sharply either via a series of short switchbacks or just directly down the slope. The path has boulders, loose stones and roots, and the route needs some care. It offers distant views of buttes and the Colorado river corridor but there is not much to see in the immediate vicinity for over a mile, until the end of the steepest section, when the trail flattens out and passes the head of Seventyfive Mile Creek
on the left - this is another narrow canyon with sheer drop offs at the edge. To the right, the land falls away at the head of the less steep Tanner Canyon. The rocks hereabouts are Esplanade Sandstone, with the earlier sheer parts descending through the Kaibab Limestone, Toroweap Formation and Coconino Sandstone layers.
The trail continues along a narrowish ridge, away from the steep, wooded cliffs and into more desert like surroundings with cacti and yucca, as the views become more expensive, and is almost level for a while as it curves past the east side of Escalante Butte
, round the head of a side valley then along the east side of Cardenas Butte
. Next it climbs a little before dropping down to another ridge with even better views of the river and the inner canyon gorge. The main path continues to the right but a short spur leads to a viewpoint at the edge of a plateau from which several miles of the Colorado are visible (see QTVR
), including the Tanner Canyon Rapids
and the more distant Lava Canyon Rapids. This point is about half way from rim to river, in both distance and elevation, and is a good target for an easy day hike.
Route to the River
The route to the river continues by descending steeply through the Redwall limestone to the floor of a gently sloping ravine, along this and another ridge, then finally down the last 1,000 feet to the river, at this point bordered by a large area of sand dunes and beaches, good for camping. The land along the second half of the trail is quite open, mostly arid, reddish slopes, rather unlike the more familiar and rugged Grand Canyon landscape further west.