If you are a serious hiker, you might be enticed to try the Grand Enchantment Trail. With its majestic vistas and varied wildlife, you’ll be itching to try this challenging thru-hike. Nothing beats the time away with your thoughts you’ll get from hiking this route, where you can really discover the splendor of the Southwest backcountry.
The Grand Enchantment Trail runs from Phoenix in the west to Albuquerque in the east, spanning over 770 miles. It is a challenging thru-hike that constitutes a route. The most optimal hike is in springtime from Phoenix to the higher, and therefore cooler, eastern trailhead.
Because this is not an officially recognized trail, it is imperative to plan thoroughly before embarking on the Grand Enchantment Trail. So, read on to ensure you know what there is to know about this fantastic route!
The Illustrious History of the GET And Its Characteristics
The Grand Enchantment Trail (GET) is a route spanning over 770 miles from Phoenix, Arizona, to Albuquerque, New Mexico.
You can start at the First Water Trailhead in the Superstition Mountains of the Tonto National Forest. Alternatively, you can hike from the eastern trailhead, at the start of Tramway Park, by Sandia Peak Tram.
The GET, created in 2003 by Brett Tucker, is not yet officially recognized but instead is a thru-hike that connects existing trails and trailheads and cross country travel and dirt roads.
Forest cover is always an added bonus, and the GET is enshrouded by it for approximately a third of the trail. The GET navigates fourteen mountain ranges. The highest point of the GET is Mogollon Baldy at a staggering 10 770 feet.
The trail traverses the Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts. The deserts on the hike are deemed “wet deserts” as they receive more rain than other deserts in the US. The chances of seeing rare animals and plants will therefore be increased in this unusual terrain.
A mere 30 miles of the trail is paved. The trail offers over 170 water sources, and permits are only required if you are overnighting in Aravaipa Canyon.
Besides the Aravaipa Canyon, you will see the Rio Grande Valley, the Painted Bluffs, The Blue Range, and the White Canyon Wilderness.
The GET is inordinately isolated, and you will see few people on the trail. Few people undertake this massive challenge, and you can go five days or more without seeing anyone.
When Should I Hike The Grand Enchantment Trail?
When you hike this trail is a crucial factor, as the higher regions could be freezing at night, and the lower regions could be boiling. Thus, the ideal time to hike needs to be chosen, depending on the year’s weather forecasts.
Do not hike the GET in summer or winter as the conditions then will be aggravated.
Because the route’s highest ground is in Albuquerque, it is advisable to start from the western trailhead in Phoenix in the springtime and finish a few months later in Albuquerque when the high terrains there are heating up.
This is also ideal because the winter snow will be melting, providing an abundance of water sources.
This springtime ideal period will vary, depending on the year, but more or less amounts to a start date of between 10 March and 10 April and finishing at the eastern trailhead in Albuquerque by 31 May.
It is possible to hike the GET in autumn, and this may be preferable as the creek crossing will be made more manageable, and there won’t be lingering snow. This will also be cooler. However, days will be shorter, and nights can be pretty cold.
For an autumn hike, begin at the eastern trailhead in mid to late September after the summer monsoon rains have subsided and preferably arrive mid to late November.
There may be storms and snow in the higher ground in later October and November, but a hiker following a good place will be clear of this territory by that time.
Tips For The Grand Enchantment Trail
You will definitely need to be handy with your map and compass. Another option is using a GPS and a smartphone with a backcountry navigator. It is critical to have a navigational redundancy, whichever option you choose.
This is not a hike for novices. Getting lost is easy if you don’t know what you are doing, especially considering the GET lacks an actual “trail” you will be following the whole way through.
Although water sources are abundant on the trail, there are times when there are no sources or the sources have dried up. Therefore, it is prudent always to carry extra water in preparation for these times.
Desert hiking experience is also necessary. The distance between water sources can be over 20 miles, and you must be prepared for that. In addition, it would be best to protect yourself from the sun, and wearing a long sleeve shirt will help with that.
Another good tip for keeping the sun at bay is to wear large bandanas under your cap to protect your neck and ears.
Planning is of utmost importance when it comes to the GET. Looking at resupply points, daily mileage, and alternate routes is essential. An excellent tool for this is the extensive GET website set up by Brett Tucker himself.
You can also look on Facebook for recounting of past hikes by people who have successfully trekked the entire GET or talk to anyone you know who might have completed the GET.
Some people who have hiked the trail wrote a resupply plan that may be useful in planning your own trip.
When resupplying, you might run into trouble if you want to stay in a hotel, as these hotels fill up with seasonal mineworkers. Therefore, if you can, phone ahead to book a stay at a hotel or simply keep camping.
You should know that the hike is very isolated, so if you will lack company, you should convince someone you know to do it with you.
Gear List for the GET
If you are just itching to get started on your planning for the GET, here are a few items you should definitely pack:
- A durable tent
- A suitable sleeping bag
- A sleeping pad for comfort
- Appropriate footwear
- An insulating jacket
- A fleece mid-layer
- Comfortable base layers
- A rain of wind jacket
- A headlamp
- A first aid kit
Hiking the Grand Enchantment Trail, with its sheer heights and vast canyons, is the stuff of legends. However, only the intrepid undertake this demanding thru-hike, and that seclusion is precisely what makes the Grand Enchantment Trail so spectacular!