Grand Canyon Hiking Trails

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Trail Descriptions

Bright Angel Trail, Grand Canyon

The Bright Angel Trail is the most popular trail in the canyon, with hundreds of hikers and mule trains trekking along its length daily. It is wide, relatively smooth, well-maintained, and offers sweeping vistas through the heart of the Grand Canyon. Following a a fault-controlled break in the cliffs, the Bright Angel Trail has been in use since the Havasupai Indian Tribe first built the trail to collect water from the Colorado River below. Bright Angel is an excellent hiking trail for newcomers to the Grand Canyon.

  • TRAIL ACCESS: Parking permitted at lot near Kolb Studio
  • DIFFICULTY: 2/5
  • VIEWS: 3/5
  • SECLUSION: 2/5
  • LENGTH: 8.0 miles (one way to Colorado River)
  • ELEVATION GAIN: 1120-2400 feet
  • ELEVATION CHANGE: 4,380 feet (one way to Colorado River)
  • CAMPING: Indian Gardens (CIG), Bright Angel Campground (CBG) (permit required)
  • WATER: 1.5 Mile Rest House (seasonal), 3 Mile Rest House (seasonal), Indian Gardens (year-round), Colorado River (year-round)

The trail starts near the Bright Angel Lodge on the Grand Canyon’s South Rim and reaches the Colorado River 8 miles below, eventually linking up with the North Kaibab Trail, which accesses Bright Angel Campground and Phantom Ranch on the north side of the River. There are numerous water sources and rest houses along Bright Angel, though water is only seasonally available at 1.5 Mile and 3 Mile Resthouse. The trail is well-maintained but very steep at times. Bright Angel Trail is recommended for beginner to experienced hikers.

Distance (mi) Elevation (ft) Landmark
0 6860 Trailhead
1.6 5729 1.5 Mile Resthouse
3.1 4748 3 Mile Resthouse
4.9 3800 Indian Gardens
6.4 3740 Plateau Point (via Plateau Point Trail)
8.0 2480 River Resthouse (Colorado River)
9.2 2470 Silver Bridge (via River Trail)
9.5 2480 Bright Angel Campground (via River Trail)
9.9 2460 Phantom Ranch (via River Trail)

Topographic Map of the Bright Angel Trail

Elevation Profile of the Bright Angel Trail

Hiking the Bright Angel Trail

Hiking into the Grand Canyon can be difficult – the steep walls of the Canyon present an insurmountable obstacle for much of the Canyons length. The Bright Angel Trail follows the massive Bright Angel Fault, which slices through the walls of the Canyon and creates a natural route to the Colorado River. The Bright Angel Fault can be easily picked out by looking at Bright Angel Canyon- a large side Canyon formed as a result of the faulting. Our Grand Canyon hiking guides love to point out this feature as they lead visitors down a trail that has been in use for thousands of years. Some of our favorite locations on this hike are the stone tunnels and petroglyphs present along the trail.

Looking at the Bright Angel Fault in Google Earth (fault is marked with dashed white line). The Bright Angel and North Kaibab Trails follow the Bright Angel Fault.


1.5 Mile Resthouse. Photo courtesy of Grand Canyon National Park.

Several landmarks along the Bright Angel Trail are useful to hikers looking to rest or gauge how far along they are. Within the first three miles are two rest houses- 1.5 Mile Rest House and 3 Mile Rest House, where hikers can use a composting toilet, or fill up on water in the summer months (be sure to check with park rangers as to the availability of water). These landmarks are good places to turn around for new hikers. The hike from the Bright Angel trail head to 3 Mile Rest House involves a total descent of approximately 2,100 feet, making the hike to 3 Mile Rest House a challenge. For the average person looking for a relaxing Grand Canyon hiking tour, hiking to 1.5 Mile Rest House is a good option. Our Grand Canyon hiking guides will help you decide which landmark is right for your hike.


Approximately 1.7 miles beyond 3 Mile Rest House down an exposed portion of the Bright Angel Trail lies Indian Garden, where you can find the remnants of several ancient structures built by ancient the Puebloan and Cohoninas. Hikers can find year-round water, restrooms, campgrounds, and a ranger station. To camp at Indian Garden, permits must be obtained from the Grand Canyon National Park Backcountry Information Center, and are available on a first-come, first served basis. The park service recommends hikers not venture beyond Indian Gardens in the heat of summer, and we tend to agree; the Bright Angel trail offers very little shade beyond this point and the hike back up to the rim is very strenuous.

Indian Gardens. Photo courtesy of Grand Canyon National Park.


The View from Plateau Point. Photo courtesy of Grand Canyon National Park.

Beyond Indian Garden, a 3 mile (round-trip) detour on the Plateau Point Trail Trail takes you to Plateau Point. Here, hikers can peer into Granite Gorge, a section of the Canyon where the Colorado River is flanked on either side by the oldest rocks in the Grand Canyon- the 1.8 billion year old Vishnu Basement Rocks. The Colorado River constricts in the Gorge, increasing the River’s velocity. Though the spectacular view from here is enticing, attempting to reach Plateau Point and return to the Bright Angel Trailhead in one day is for experienced and acclimated hikers only. Lack of water, heat, sun exposure, and the 6 mile hike (with a 3,120 foot elevation gain) back to the trailhead can be an extremely strenuous trek, even to the most athletic hikers or runners. It should be noted that the relatively high elevation of the Grand Canyon can pose a serious challenge to those who are not acclimated to higher elevations.

Approximately 3 miles past Indian Garden the trail reaches the Colorado River. At this point, the River Rest House provides toilets but no potable water. Those hiking to the Colorado River should carry a means to purify water, as Colorado River water cannot be safely consumed without treatment. From here, the Bright Angel Trail links up with the River Trail, which heads east to the North Kaibab Trail, where backpackers can use Silver Bridge to cross the Colorado River. On the north side of the River lies Bright Angel Campground and Phantom Ranch.

Hiking to the Colorado River in one day is NOT RECOMMENDED! As with any hike in the Grand Canyon, be sure to carry plenty of water, know your abilities, and never underestimate the difficulty of hiking in a high-altitude desert climate. For the average person looking to enjoy a Grand Canyon hiking tour, the hike to 1.5 Mile Rest House is our recommended turn-around point. This hike offers an opportunity to get inside the Grand Canyon without over-exertion. For the more experienced hikers, we recommend turning around at 3 Mile Rest House.

Bright Angel Campground. Photo Courtesy of Grand Canyon National Park.


Ralph Henry Cameron

History of the Bright Angel Trail

Due to the ease of access to the Colorado River, the Bright Angel Trail has been in use for thousands of years. The first recorded users of the trail were the Havasupai Tribe, who used the path to access their farms on the Tonto Flats below. The trail was given its name by Ralph Henry Cameron in 1901. Cameron, who would eventually become Arizona’s first Republican Senator, built a hotel at the trail head, extended the trail to the Colorado River, and began charging a $1 fee ($26 in modern value) to use his newly named trail. Cameron also charged visitors exorbitant fees for water and use of outhouses along the trail.

While European settlers sought to extract mineral ores from the Grand Canyon, it became clear early on that tourism in the Grand Canyon could be a much more profitable enterprise. Cameron capitalized on this by filing hundreds of bogus mining claims to ensure he retained access to the trail head (and its entrance fees). Cameron faced much backlash for charging to access the Bright Angel trail, and fought several legal battles to keep his rights to the lucrative route.

In 1919 The Grand Canyon National Park was officially created, but it was not until 1928 that control of the Bright Angel Trail legally belonged to the National Park Service. Today, the Grand Canyon National Park is well established, and the well-maintained Bright Angel Trail is the most popular trail in the Park.

South Kaibab Trail, Grand Canyon

The South Kaibab Trail is unique in that it’s the only trail that doesn’t follow an ancient Native American route or a fault line, nor was it constructed by early prospectors or explorers. Built by the National Park Service in the 1920s when control of the Bright Angel Trail was in dispute, it was intentionally routed along an open ridgeline, providing exciting vistas along its entire length. Because of it’s incredible views, well-maintained path, amenities, and access to Phantom Ranch and the Colorado River, the South Kaibab Trail is one of the most popular Grand Canyon day hikes.

  • TRAIL ACCESS: Shuttle Bus Only
  • DIFFICULTY: 3/5
  • VIEWS: 5/5
  • SECLUSION: 2/5
  • LENGTH: 6.4 miles (one way to Colorado River)
  • ELEVATION Change: 5,160 feet (one way to Colorado River)
  • CAMPING: Bright Angel Camprgound via North Kaibab Trail, Indian Gardens via Tonto Trail (permits required)
  • WATER: NONE

The South Kaibab Trail starts near Yaki Point on the Grand Canyon’s South Rim and reaches the Colorado River 6.4 miles below. Here it links up with the North Kaibab Trail, which accesses Bright Angel Campground and Phantom Ranch on the north side of the River. You can also access both the Tonto Trail and River Trail from the South Kaibab. The trail is well-maintained but steep, and offers little shade along it’s length during the heat of the day. There is no water along the South Kaibab, and camping is allowed at the Bright Angel Campground, approximately 7.1 miles past the trailhead. As with all campsites in the Grand Canyon, a permit must be obtained from the Grand Canyon Backcountry Information Center before camping.

Distance (mi) Elevation (ft) Landmark
0 7260 Trailhead
0.9 6660 Ooh Aah Point
1.5 6120 Cedar Ridge
1.8 5755 O'Neill Butte
3.0 5200 Skeleton Point
4.5 4027 Tonto Trail
4.6 4000 Tipoff
5.0 3620 Panorama Point
6.4 2494 Suspension Bridge
7.1 2480 Bright Angel Campground (via North Kaibab Trail)
7.3 2460 Phantom Ranch (via North Kaibab Trail)

Topographic Map of the South Kaibab Trail

Elevation Profile of the South Kaibab Trail

Hiking the South Kaibab Trail

The South Kaibab begins with a series of switchbacks which take hikers below Yaki Point. After passing through the Grand Canyon’s uppermost rock layers (Kaibab Formation, Toroweap Formation, Coconino Sandstone), the trail reaches the aptly named Ooh Aah Point, approximately 0.9 miles past the trailhead. From here hikers have a spectacular view of the Grand Canyon and the next major trail feature- Cedar Ridge. Located about 0.6 miles beyond Ooh Aah Point, Cedar Ridge is a great rest or turnaround and offers toilets, shade trees, and more spectacular 360 views of the canyon.

Looking down at Cedar Ridge. Photo courtesy of Grand Canyon National Park


Cedar Ridge. Photo courtesy of Grand Canyon National Park

Our Grand Canyon hiking tours generally turn back at Cedar Ridge, but for those who want to continue further one of the best Grand Canyon viewpoints lies 1.5 miles ahead- Skeleton Point. From Skeleton hikers can see the Colorado River and dramatic views of the surrounding Grand Canyon. Skeleton Point stands atop the Redwall Limestone, a limestone unit that acts as a regional aquifer in the Colorado Plateau Basin. Skeleton Point makes for a good turn around point for most hikers- venturing beyond here is best suited for those spending the night in the Canyon.


Just past Skeleton Point the South Kaibab Trail descends sharply through a break in the Redwall Limestone. Usually, the Redwall forms cliffs that are impossible to descend on foot. A “break” refers to a point in the limestone where the rock has been eroded or faulted so badly that it forms a slope capable of being traversed. The break along the South Kaibab is caused by a fault running perpendicular to the trail. Breaks are essential to trails in the Grand Canyon, and almost every trail from the rim uses one to descend into the Canyon. Beyond the switchbacks the trail levels out in the Bright Angel Shale before reaching the Tonto Platform, a relatively flat area just above the Colorado River.

A fault-controlled break in the Redwall Limestone along the South Kaibab Trail. Notice the steep cliffs surrounding the fault in comparison to the natural pathway created by the faulting.



Approximately 1.4 miles beyond Skeleton Point the trail reaches the Tonto Trail junction. Here, backpackers can make a loop up to Indian Gardens about 4.2 miles west, or head east 18 miles to Cottonwood Creek. Just beyond the Tonto junction is the Tipoff, a point where hikers can enjoy awesome views of the inner Grand Canyon before plunging down a steep descent towards the Colorado River. As the trail descends towards the River, hikers cross the boundary between rocks of the Tonto Group (550 million years old) and the Vishnu Schist (1.7 billion year old rocks). In a matter of feet hikers walk over a time gap of 1.2 billion years. This time gap is seen in rocks across the globe and is called the “Great Unconformity,” representing 1.2 billion years of missing Earth history.



Looking down at Silver Bridge and Bright Angel Campground from Panorama Point. Photo courtesy of Grand Canyon National Park.

Approximately 1/2 mile past the Tipoff the trail reaches Panorama Point, which is a great place to see Bright Angel Campground and the two suspension bridges leading to the North Rim- Black Bridge and Silver Bridge. Backpackers heading to Bright Angel Campground for the night will head down a steep descent to Black Bridge before they cross onto the North Kaibab Trail. From there, it is an easy walk to Bright Angel Campground. Camping here will require a permit available from the Grand Canyon Backcountry Information Center.


Hiking to the Colorado River in one day is NOT RECOMMENDED! As with any hike in the Grand Canyon, be sure to carry plenty of water, know your abilities, and never underestimate the difficulty of hiking in a high-altitude desert climate. For the average person looking to enjoy a Grand Canyon hiking tour, the hike to Ooh-Aah Point or Cedar Ridge is our recommended turn-around point. This hike offers an opportunity to get inside the Grand Canyon without over-exerting oneself. For the more experienced hikers, we recommend turning around at Skeleton Point. Overnight backpackers can choose from a variety of loops starting on the South Kaibab, the most popular being the South Kaibab to Bright Angel via the Tonto Trail.



History of the South Kaibab Trail

The National Park Service was created in 1916 with the directive “to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and wildlife therein, and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.” The newly formed agency very quickly acquired the Grand Canyon; the majestic canyon in Northern Arizona was officially declared a National Park in 1919.

Construction of the South Kaibab Trail, circa 1924-1925. Photo courtesy of Arizona State University.


Map of the Arizona Trail, courtesy of the Arizona Trail Association.

At this time Ralph Cameron still held the rights to the Bright Angel Trail and was charging for use of this route to the river. After years of fruitless legal battles with Cameron ownership of the Bright Angel Trail, the Park Service began construction of their own rim to river trail in 1924, and the South Kaibab Trail was born. Originally named the Yaki Trail (after the trail’s start at Yaki Point), the trail was soon renamed Kaibab. Kaibab is the Paiute word for the Grand Canyon, and translates to “Mountain Lying Down.”

After constructing the South Kaibab Trail in just six months, the National Park Service extended their trail up to the north rim, calling this section the North Kaibab Trail. The Northern and Southern Kaibab Trails formed the first trans-canyon trail in the Grand Canyon.

The Kaibab Trail has also been included as part of the Arizona Trail, an 800 mile route stretching across the entire state from Utah to Mexico, following previously existing trails wherever possible.

Hermit Trail, Grand Canyon

Originally used by ancient Native Americans, the Hermit Trail is one of the more secluded hikes in the Grand Canyon. Beginning near Hermit’s Rest on the Grand Canyon’s South Rim, the Hermit is a favorite route to the Colorado River for those seeking solitude, views, and history.

  • TRAIL ACCESS: Shuttle Bus, Personal vehicles with Backcountry Permit
  • DIFFICULTY: 4/5
  • VIEWS: 3/5
  • SECLUSION: 5/5
  • LENGTH: 8.9 miles (one way to Colorado River)
  • ELEVATION CHANGE: 4,240 feet (one way to Colorado River)
  • CAMPING: Hermit Creek (BM7), Hermit Rapids (BM8) (permit required)
  • WATER: Santa Maria Spring, Hermit Creek

The Hermit Trail begins at Hermit’s Rest (off Hermit Road) and terminates at the Colorado River, approximately 8.9 miles beyond the trailhead. Access to the trailhead is available by shuttle bus during the spring, summer, and fall months. Private vehicles are able to park at the trailhead with a backpacking permit. Campgrounds are available at Hermit Creek (BM7) and Hermit Rapids (BM8), though a permit is required. Permits for backpacking and camping are available from the Grand Canyon Backcountry Information Center. There are two water sources along the Hermit Trail – the unreliable Santa Maria Spring, and the ever-flowing Hermit Creek. As always, water must be purified prior to drinking. The Hermit Trail is not maintained like other trails on the South Rim, and is steep, rocky, and strenuous in some places. Therefore, Hermit Trail is only recommended for experienced hikers.

Distance (mi) Elevation (ft) Landmark
0 6640 Trailhead
1.5 5240 Dripping Springs Trail Junction
2.2 5000 Santa Maria Spring
4 4200 Lookout Point
5.5 4400 Cathedral Stairs
6.2 3120 Tonto Trail Junction
7.8 3040 Hermit Creek Campsite
8.9 2400 Hermit Rapids, Colorado River

Topographic Map of the Hermit Trail

Elevation Profile of the Hermit Trail

Hiking the Hermit Trail

The Hermit Trail begins with a steep descent into the Grand Canyon through a series of switchbacks which pass through the highest rock formation in the Grand Canyon – the Kaibab Limestone. After approximately 1 mile the trail crosses into the Coconino Sandstone, where fossilized reptile tracks can be seen in the sandstone beds. Approximately 1/4 mile beyond the fossil tracks, the trail crosses into the Hermit Shale, a slope-forming, easily weathered, red-colored rock unit. 1.5 miles beyond the trailhead is the Dripping Springs trail junction, which heads west to a small but reliable spring and the Boucher Trail, a difficult, less used trail leading to Boucher Rapids and the Colorado River.

The Dripping Springs Trail junction. Photo courtesy of Grand Canyon National Park.


The View from Lookout Point. Photo courtesy of Grand Canyon National Park.

About 0.7 miles past the trail junction lies an impermanent water source- the Santa Maria Spring, where spring water is funneled into a small metal trough. A small stone rest house is also present near the spring. At this point the Hermit Trail has crossed into the Supai Formation, a geologic unit composed of several alternating shales and sandstones. The trail then levels out on the Redwall Limestone, atop which lies the next major trail feature- Lookout Point, which is located approximately 4 miles past the trailhead. Here hikers can enjoy stunning views of the inner gorge and rest before descending the next major challenge on the Hermit Trail- the Cathedral Stairs.


The Cathedral Stairs consist of steep and rocky switchbacks which follow a break in the Redwall Limestone. A “break” refers to a point where an otherwise cliff-forming (and therefore impassable) rock unit has been eroded or faulted enough to become passable by foot. After descending down the stairs the trail flattens out, and hikers can enjoy the scenery of the Grand Canyon walls while walking along the Tonto Platform. Approximately 1 mile after beginning the descent down the Cathedral Stairs, the Hermit Trail joins up with the Tonto Trail, an east-west trending trail that connects many of the South Rim’s trails together. In fact, the Hermit Trail follows a small portion of the Tonto Trail west before dropping into Hermit Creek.

After following the Tonto Trail for approximately 1.5 miles, the trail enters Hermit Creek. A short hike (approximately 1/4 mile) down the drainage brings hikers to perennially flowing water and a campsite (B7). Permits must be obtained from the Grand Canyon Backcountry Information Center in order to camp here. Hermit Creek flows towards the Colorado River, and an unmaintained, 1.1 mile trail that follows the creek leads down to Hermit Rapids, where another campsite (B8) is available for permit holders.

A hiker nears Cathedral Stairs. The Tonto Platform can be seen in the distance. Photo courtesy of Grand Canyon National Park.


Hermit Camp, circa 1919. This photograph was reproduced from a hand-colored lantern slide. Photo courtesy of Grand Canyon National Park.

History of the Hermit Trail

Similar to many other trails leading into the Grand Canyon, the Hermit Trail follows an ancient Native American route to the Colorado River. In 1911, the Santa Fe Railroad began improving the trail to facilitate travel to a luxurious campsite built inside Hermit Creek. The Hermit Camp, built 10 years prior to Phantom Ranch, included a tramway running from the South Rim. Abandoned in the 1930’s, not much of the camp is left standing today. The Hermit Trail remains a testament to a time when entrepreneurs sought to develop the inner Grand Canyon.


The trail is named after Louis D. Boucher, the so-called “hermit,” though the name is a bit of a misnomer. Although Boucher lived alone, he was a well-known figure in the South Rim community during his time there. Boucher lived near the trail for over 20 years and built the Boucher Trail, as well as seasonal homes near Dripping Springs and Boucher Creek.

James D. Boucher, aka the “Hermit.”

Tanner Trail, Grand Canyon

The Tanner Trail is the easternmost of our regularly scheduled hikes, and it offers a different perspective from other trails. Following an ancient Native American foot path into the Canyon, Tanner includes vast panoramas stretching from the Colorado River to Navajo Mountain, located 100 miles away. On the Tanner Trail, our Grand Canyon hiking tours generally reach 75 Mile Saddle, where we’ll have a spectacular view of the eastern Grand Canyon. Tanner Trail is very steep, which makes this our most difficult hike, but also the most secluded.

  • TRAIL ACCESS: Parking available at trailhead
  • DIFFICULTY: 4/5
  • VIEWS: 3/5
  • SECLUSION: 5/5
  • LENGTH: 9 miles (one way)
  • ELEVATION CHANGE: 4,650 feet (one way)
  • CAMPING: Tanner Campground (permit required)
  • WATER: None (until Colorado River)

The Tanner Trail begins at Lipan Point and terminates at the Colorado River, approximately 9 miles and 4,650 feet below the trailhead. Campgrounds are available at the end of the trail, though a permit is required. In places, the Tanner Trail is steep, rocky, and difficult. There are no water sources along the Tanner Trail – as such, day hikers are advised to be wary of how far along they venture. Because of difficult terrain and lack of water, Tanner is recommended for experienced hikers only.

Distance (mi) Elevation (ft) Landmark
0 7400 Trailhead
1.9 5240 75 Mile Saddle
3.5 5700 Cardenas Butte
9 2650 Tanner Campground

Topographic Map of the Tanner Trail

Elevation Profile of the Tanner Trail

Hiking the Tanner Trail

Beginning at Lipan Point (where you can park a vehicle, use restrooms, and fill up on water), Tanner Trail descends into the Grand Canyon through a series of steep switchbacks which pass through the highest rock formations in the Grand Canyon – the Kaibab Limestone, Toroweap Formation, and Coconino Sandstone. After approximately 1.9 miles the trail reaches 75 Mile Saddle, where hikers can enjoy spectacular views into Tanner Canyon. The Saddle makes for a great rest stop, and is generally as far as our Grand Canyon hiking tours reach on the Tanner Trail.

The view from 75 Mile Saddle.


Redwall Limestone. The Redwall typically forms sheer cliffs, as seen in this photo. Photo courtesy of Grand Canyon National Park.

Continuing on from 75 Mile Saddle, the hike levels out as the Tanner Trail wraps around the east side of Escalante and Cardenas Buttes. After the buttes, the trail reaches a small saddle before descending down a break in the Redwall Limestone. A “break” refers to location in the Grand Canyon where a trail can be carved into into cliff-forming (and usually impassable) rock formations such as limestones and sandstones. Generally, because limestones and sandstones are harder and more resistant to erosion, they tend to form cliffs instead of gentle slopes. Breaks can be caused by several factors including faults or rock slumping. In the case of the Redwall break along the Tanner Trail, slumping of large rock fragments created a natural pathway into the Canyon.


After the steep descent down the Redwall break, the gradient levels out again, as the trail crosses the Bright Angel Shale. The easily-weathered and slope-forming siltstones and mudstones of the Bright Angel Shale act as natural pathways in much of the Grand Canyon. After passing through the Bright Angel, the trail straddles a ridgeline formed by the Tapeats Sandstone, before making the final descent to the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon Supergroup rocks. The Grand Canyon Supergroup is only visible in the eastern portion of the Grand Canyon, making the Tanner Trail an excellent opportunity to see these rocks up close.

Rocks of the Grand Canyon Supergroup. Pictured is the Bass Limestone. Photo courtesy of Grand Canyon National Park.


Google Earth image depicting the confluence of the wash and the Colorado River.

Before reaching the Colorado River, the Tanner Trail follows a small wash that drains Tanner Canyon above. Sediments transported by the wash are deposited at the junction between the wash and the Colorado River, creating a small delta. As the wash empties these sediments into the River, the force of the water flowing down the Colorado moves the smaller, lighter sediments downstream, forming a sandbar directly downstream of the wash. The large, heavier sediments transported by the wash (such as boulders) are more difficult to move – as such, they sit where they have been deposited, and form the Tanner Rapids at the .

Here, on the sandbar, backpackers can camp at the Tanner Campground, though a permit must first be obtained from the Grand Canyon Backcountry Information Center..



The end of the Tanner Trail forms a junction with two other trails – the Beamer Trail, which heads upriver to the Little Colorado River confluence, and the Escalante Route, which heads down river and eventually reaches Hance Rapids, the Red Canyon Trail, and the Tonto Trail.



History of the Tanner Trail

The Tanner Trail follows an ancient Anasazi and Hopi route to the Colorado River. The trail is named after Seth Tanner, who improved the trail in the late 19th century to help access a copper mine deep within the Canyon. Tanner, a Mormon pioneer and miner, arrived in Arizona in 1872. In addition to working on the Tanner Trail, he explored the Little Colorado River for a habitable place to settle. Tanner also befriended and worked with the Navajo and Hopi Indians, who called him Hastiin Shush (Mr. Bear). The trail was also used by horse thieves to transport horses from Arizona to Utah.

Seth Tanner, or “Mr. Bear”


Artists rendition of the Cardenas expedition.

It is believed that the Spanish explorer Garcia Lopez de Cardenas became the first European to see the Grand Canyon near the Tanner Trail, though it is unlikely Cardenas reached the Colorado River along the Trail. His party’s difficulty in finding suitable access into the Canyon is documented and well-described in his journal:

“They spent three days trying to find a way down to the river, which from above appeared to be only a fathom wide, although, according to what the Indians said, it must be half a league across…. The descent was found to be impossible.”

Today, the Tanner Trail remains an important access point to the eastern portion of the Grand Canyon, and a reminder of those who ventured to the Grand Canyon looking for water, conquest, or adventure.

Grandview, Grand Canyon

The Grandview Trail was historically one of the premier hiking trails in the Grand Canyon, and remains a good way to see the Canyon. First built by prospectors to access mining claims in the Canyon, Grandview offers much in the way of scenery and history. While it is an unmaintained trail, it is in relatively good condition, though tougher than others along the South Rim.

  • TRAIL ACCESS: Shuttle Bus, Personal vehicles
  • DIFFICULTY: 3/5
  • VIEWS: 3/5
  • SECLUSION: 5/5
  • LENGTH: 3 miles (one way to Horseshoe Mesa)
  • ELEVATION CHANGE: 2,600 feet (one way to Horseshoe Mesa)
  • CAMPING: Horseshoe Mesa (BF5)
  • WATER: NONE

The Grandview Trail begins at Grandview Point and ends 4.7 miles beyond the trailhead on Horseshoe Mesa. There are no water sources along Grandview, and camping is permitted at Horseshoe Mesa.

Distance (mi) Elevation (ft) Landmark
0 7400 Trailhead
1.1 6210 Coconino Saddle
3.0 4900 Horseshoe Mesa
3.7 4400 Page (Miners) Spring (via East Horseshoe Mesa Trail)
4.5 3900 Cottonwood Creek (via Tonto Trail)
4.9 3700 Hance Creek (via Tonto Trail)

Topographic Map of the Grandview Trail

Elevation Profile of the Grandview Trail

Hiking the Grandview Trail

The Grandview Trail begins with a steep descent through the Kaibab and Toroweap Formations. Remnants of the historic trail can be seen here in the form of log “cribs,” which are used to stabilize the trail. Exposure during the first section of the trail is severe, and hikers must use caution as there are sloping ledges near the trail. After 1.1 miles, the trail reaches Coconino Saddle, which overlooks a side canyon. Here, the geology transitions from the Coconino Sandstone to the underlying Hermit Shale.

More Information Coming Soon