Beaver Falls cascades on the Havasupai Reservation

A Day Hiking Mooney Falls and Beaver Falls

On our second day at the Havasupai Reservation we planned to do both Mooney Falls and Beaver Falls. We all woke up at a regular hour and ate breakfast. Some had MRE’s of eggs and bacon using a backpacking stove and pot, others had peanut butter and crackers, trail mix, etc. We were quickly joined in the morning by our new dog friend Dusty and another camp dog we decided to call Kumquat. Kumquat got his name because Josh had carried a bag of the fruit in the canyon with him. We all tried it with various reactions, most considering it a strange fruit to chose to carry choice (except I liked it).

Mooney Falls

When hiking down to the campsite from the reservation you pass Havasu Falls, the campground sites then run along Havasu Creek between Havasu and Mooney Falls. To get to Mooney Falls you follow the campground trails to the end and have your first view of the falls from above. The hike is anywhere from a few hundred feet to 3/4 of a mile depending on where you camped. (Note: there are no bathrooms outside the campground)

To get down to the bottom of the falls involves climbs through some old tunnels and down several ladders with chains to help you. It’s a bit of a challenging descent and the later in the day you go people will be traveling both directions and it takes longer to get there.

The view from below looking up the ladders shows you a bit of this descent. The old ladder on the right shows you how this climb would have been even more rickety in the past.

Mooney Falls is the tallest of the 5 major waterfalls on the Havasupai reservation at a 200 ft drop. You could spend an entire day here swimming or hanging in a hammock.

Hiking Havasu Creek to Beaver Falls

We spent a bit of time here but were eager to see Beaver Falls which is about a 3 mile hike from Mooney. The path began up to the left by where we had descended. Marking for the trails don’t exist, they are obvious paths but at times split leading to view points or other areas which can be confusing. The trail to Beaver Falls follows the Havasu Creek much of the way and crosses it 3 times, water shoes proved very useful for these parts if you had good ones.

The trail itself is so beautiful it’s hard not to stop frequently to take photos, enjoy a quiet moment, or a bite to eat.

We stopped for a group photo when we found this small cave in the canyon walls. Here we found a picnic table and began to wonder how picnic tables had been set up along the trail when the descent from Mooney is the only place to begin. We later found out, when speaking to some tribe members, that during flooding some had been moved from their original locations and others taken down by boat.

Here I also paused to take photos of the cascades which are so numerous along the trail. As the water in Havasu Creek flows it deposits minerals with create the travertine rock formations that are so common here, these formations become visible as floods change the stream bed.

From here we crossed the creek again, but this time by pieces of wood and careful stepping instead of wading through.

At one point you enter a sea of green on the canyon floor,  you can’t even see the path from above just little heads of people on the trail.

Sometimes you are traveling directly next to the creek, sometimes above the creek, and yet other times crossing over it on wooden planks or wading through. Experiencing the changing environment from different altitudes was awe inspiring. Information about Havasu online will often feature the waterfalls but the journey between these two falls is like nothing else.

Beaver Falls

When we finally reached Beaver Falls, after climbing up rocks and all kinds of ladders we had to climb down a few more to reach the lowest tier of this cascading waterfall. You can swim in all the tiers and find other cascades and tree and plant life around it as well.

While at Beaver Falls we met a ranger from the reservation who checked group bracelets and made sure everyone left the area by 4:30, because of the 3 miles hike back to Mooney Falls where you then have to climb the ladders they want you back with plenty of time before sunset. He shared one story of an injured self proclaimed avid hiker with us:

There is a trail along the canyon wall called the Mesa trail, to get to this trail or get off this trail at Beaver Falls there is a rope to help you down. This woman, either wishing to jump in the water or tired from her hike had decided to let go of the rope. She fell and badly broke her leg. Due to poor weather the helicopter couldn’t get there and she was forced to wait by the falls with a ranger and one friend until the next day to be airlifted out. Each time they have to use the helicopter to bring someone to the hospital it costs the reservation a minimum of $10,000.

While at Beaver Falls the wile squirrels got into our bags to steal trail mix.

Heading Back to Camp

Heading back to Mooney Falls on the trail we eventually realize we must have missed a creek crossing (possibly the one I mentioned before). This doesn’t turn out to be a problem we are just following a different way back. We cross at different points in the Creek and see different parts of it which is fun. A few parts of this trail were a little more over grown but it was easy to follow. We ended up in what we came to believe was Ghost Canyon right before returning to Mooney.

The trail up from here was climbing up some sand stone which is a bit challenging. If my fitbit was correct though this way back was a bit shorter.

We didn’t stop for long once we reached Mooney Falls but quickly ascended the ladders and cave tunnels. Back at the campsite we all began to get comfortable when someone noticed a snake. Not sure what kind it was we made sure it exited our area before making dinner. Later we found out it was a common Kingsnake that will actually eat rattlesnakes.