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by Suzanne Tollefson:

If you are going to boat the Grand Canyon any time soon, or know someone who is, you have got to buy Tom Martin's book "Day Hikes from the River" (1999 Vishnu Temple Press). As its title says, the book is a guide to 75 hikes from camps on the Colorado River in Grand Canyon National Park. Although I have not boated the Canyon myself, I have done a lot of hiking and read a number of hiking guides, and this one is worth bringing along.

The book starts at Lee's Ferry (Mile 0) and covers 275 river miles, ending at Columbine Falls. A clear, easy to read topo map with scale notations is provided for each hike, making the book very user friendly. Because the hikes vary from easy to extremely difficult, the author provides helpful tips on what to expect on each trail (e.g., extensive bouldering, steep ascents, water crossings), as well as what to watch out for on certain hikes (e.g., flash floods, loose footing, many miles with no shade). Most are day hikes that go in and out by the same trail, but there are some loops and suggestions for possible overnight trips. Geological formations and archeological points of interest along the trail are also noted, along with facts on local history.

As a boater, I appreciated the guide's suggestions on camp spots and the locations of eddies allowing easiest access to the trailheads. Major rapids (Lava Falls, Crystal) and transfer points (Phantom Ranch) are also covered, with comments regarding refilling water jugs, locating payphones and receiving mail. The book also notes distances to highways and boundaries with Native American lands, for wilderness emergencies.

From a practical standpoint, the book is compact (5" x 8"), softbound, and light (less than 200 pages). It will easily fit into a ziploc bag, for carrying in an ammo can or other safe spot. At $16.95, it costs a little more than I would have expected, but well worth it for a book you can use for years. Don't do the Canyon without it!

Peter Dayton writes:

I purchased a copy of Tom Martin's book "Day Hikes From the River - a Guide to 75 Hikes from Camps on the Colorado River in Grand Canyon National Park," and have greatly enjoyed browsing through it. Great job, Tom! The maps and descriptions are excellent. I sure wish I'd had this book on previous trips down the Canyon. I keep thinking "dang, if only I'd known to hike a little further and then head up that nose," or "I can't believe I floated right by that spot every time without stopping," or whatever. It seems to me that a lot of river runners tend to congregate at a relatively few well known hikes and other points of interest, and I hope that this book will tend to spread people out over a larger number of sites. With the help of the book I'm already thinking up an itinerary of new hikes for my next trip.