From Hilltop Trail Head
Make sure you have at least a gallon of water with you for the hike. I always keep additional stashed in my vehicle for when I hike back up on departure day.
Make sure you have your valid ID with you. Some say you need to know your vehicle plate info too?
I always carry some cash so I can hit the store or cafe.
During summer months your best trail hike time is at first light. You want to beat the sun and the heat. The switchback trail starts right off with no mercy. The good thing is you can put this behind you in about an hour.
The switchbacks are in a fairly vertical wall of a east canyon wall. The trail is not in direct sunlight until about 3 hours past sunrise (as predicted for the general area. That is consist through out the year based on sunrise. So if you hit the trail near sunrise you have it “made in the shade”!
Most of the trail from the base of the switchbacks, on down to Supai, is generally in the shade of canyon walls. Unless you are hiking at high noon or when the sun is directly overhead.
If you are using a pack animal to transport gear be sure to tag and drop your gear in the appropriate drop area at the trailhead.
If you are flying on the Helicopter the landing pad is on a lower level than the main parking area. Be sure to sign in/check in per the latest procedures. If you have one bag/pack you should be able to fly that with you.
From the Lodge
Make sure you have at least one gallon of water for your trip out.
Heading home or back up the trail (or flying out) you need to arrange your check out. Perhaps the night before is possible? A fairly robust hike will get you to the base of the switchbacks in about 2 hours. Then another hour to ascend the switchbacks.
So based on the time of year, and sunrise, you want to be up the switchbacks before they are in full sunlight. This will of course depend on the time of year and sunrise for your given day. I would would leave right at sunrise. That 3 hour hike will put you at the top. right about the time the trail is in full sun.
If you found on your trip down (From Trail Head to Supai) took you longer than 3 hours you will want to adjust your start time accordingly.
If you are using a pack animal to transport your gear you should have arranged and paid for the tag ahead of time. Tag your gear and place it in the Lodge pick-up area.
If you are flying out and flying with your gear get to the village landing pad near the Cafe and check-in/sign-in as early as possible. During busy times of the year the line can be long. In the past there are numerous reports of it being very disorganized.
From the Campground
The Campground is about 1 hours more of a hike than Supai village. So went leaving the campgrounds on departure day I try to leave at least sunrise minus 1 hour. I can hike the campground to Hilltop in about 4 hours. If you are slower adjust accordingly.
Be mindful out of common courtesy, and the local rules you are not suppose to be hiking through the village between 6pm and 4am. Most people can hike from the campground to the village in 1 hour, so that means the average person has no business leaving the campground in the wee hours of the night.
If you are using a pack animal from the campground you should have arranged and paid for a pack tag as you hiked in and checked in the previous day or days. Tag your pack and leave it up by the front of the campground where the barbed wire horse fence and ranger hut are located. Keep them on high ground on the camp side of the fence to avoid horses peeing on them while being tied there.
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