username
X
password
register help

Tonto Trail: Grandview Trail to South Kaibab, AZ

details
drive
permit
forecast
route
stats
photos
triplogs
topics
location
514 34 2
Guide 34 Triplogs  2 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Northwest > South Rim
Rated
3.9
3.9 of 5 by 13
 
3
Statistics
clicktap icons for details
Difficulty 3 of 5
Distance One Way 20.75 miles
Trailhead Elevation 3,898 feet
Elevation Gain -368 feet
Accumulated Gain 2,424 feet
Avg Time One Way 10 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 28.83
Backpack Yes & Connecting
Dogs not allowed
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Will recalculate on button tap!
33  2017-09-28 BiFrost
3  2015-04-23 hikeaz
8  2014-05-24
Cottonwood Creek - Grand Canyon
toddak
3  2013-01-05
Old Grandview Trail
toddak
52  2012-11-30
Grandview Trail
ultrazona
45  2012-11-30
Grandview Trail
chumley
24  2012-11-30
Grandview Trail
John9L
8  2012-04-01
Grapevine Creek - Grand Canyon
toddak
Page 1,  2,  3
Author HAZ_Hikebot
author avatar Guides 16,882
Routes 16,052
Photos 24
Trips 1 map ( 6 miles )
Age 22 Male Gender
Location TrailDEX, HAZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
Radar
Expand Map
Preferred   Feb, Mar, Oct, Nov → Early
Seasons   Autumn to Spring
Sun  6:12am - 6:32pm
Official Route
 
5 Alternative
 
Water
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Tonto Rollercoaster
by HAZ_Hikebot

Overview
The dynamic interplay of soft and hard layers of stone creates an open benchland at the rim of the Inner Gorge called the Tonto Platform. Easily visible from several South Rim overlooks, the greenish Tonto rocks have eroded into an obvious exception to the striking vertical cliffs that characterize most of Grand Canyon. The Tonto Trail follows this natural transcanyon route for 95 rough, unmaintained miles, from Red Canyon on the east to Garnet Canyon on the west. All of this makes the Tonto Trail unique among Grand Canyon pathways. Most descend from the rim towards the Colorado River, but the Tonto Trail offers passage by foot up and down the canyon, parallel to the course of the river. Because of its length, most hikers approach the Tonto Trail not as a single unit, but rather as a series of installments, breaking the route down into four or five sections defined by rim to river trails and the natural lay of the land. The trek along the Tonto Trail between the Grandview and Kaibab Trails offers experienced canyon walkers a representative introduction to the pleasures, as well as the problems, associated with travel along this important inner canyon feature.


Hike
The Tonto Trail is like a contour line on your map. The trail descends into the side canyons only when there is no other option, preferring to traverse into the drainages at a consistent elevation. It is often indirect, but Tonto Trail hikers would be well advised to have faith and follow the trail - it almost always represents the most efficient way across the landscape, and one quickly discovers that a trail, any sort of trail, makes for much easier forward progress. Shortcuts will not save time. The trail is not signed. The Tonto Trail leaves the bed of Cottonwood Creek near the top of the Tapeats Formation, contours around the west arm, and heads west toward Grapevine. Entering Grapevine from the east involves a short section of narrow, eroding trail with significant exposure. The views down into the lower reaches of Grapevine are wonderful, but watch your step. Grapevine is, by far, the largest and most complex side canyon between the Grandview and the South Kaibab Trails. Looking across the mouth of the drainage from the Tonto Trail the distance seems short, but plan on at least 2-3 hours of steady hiking to cross. The small unnamed drainages between Grapevine and Boulder and Boulder and Lone Tree will slow progress, and a little confusion on the west side of Lone Tree is normal, but generally speaking the route between Grapevine and Cremation Creek is straightforward.

Cremation is tough. It has formed along a major fault zone called the Grandview Monocline which has distorted the west side. Folding and displacement related to the fault are obvious within the Tapeats Formation in both western arms of Cremation. Crossing these canyons involves significant elevation change, something of an exception to the (more or less) level nature of the Tonto Trail. There is no river access at Cremation Canyon. A short climb up the slope of the monocline west of Cremation brings hikers to the South Kaibab Trail at the Tip-off.

Notes
The dry, hostile nature of the Tonto Platform belies the fact that this desert landscape has been utilized by prehistoric populations for thousands of years. A trained eye can detect archaeological sites in many of the side canyons, sites that testify to the creative intelligence that sustained these people over many generations living out their lives within the harsh, unforgiving world of inner Grand Canyon. If you should find or visit such sites, please leave everything in place, exactly as you found it.

Water Sources
The Tonto Trail is notorious for its lack of reliable water sources, and this section is no exception. Do not expect the river to be a water source in this area; river access via side canyons in this segment ranges from extremely difficult to impossible. Heavy water loads are the norm and dry camps almost inevitable. Check with the Backcountry Information Center for the latest water reports before embarking, know where your next drink is coming from, and have enough water to get you there. The combination of open, sunny country, lack of shade, many dry miles and only a single reliable water source makes this hike dangerous during hot weather. The issue of water in your pack vs. distance to the next reliable spring is one to always keep in mind along the Tonto Trail.

Cottonwood Creek (BG9)
Cool weather: Southern spring is usually reliable. Northern Spring and O'Neill Spring are unreliable at best. Hot weather: May be dry.
Grapevine Creek (BH9)
Cool weather: Water in the east arm at the Tonto Trail crossing and from the spring on the east side of the drainage. Hot weather: Water normally available in the east arm above or below Tonto Platform level (but sometimes dry at the Tonto Trail) and usually a small trickle from the spring on the east side of the drainage. Further downcanyon water abounds.
Boulder Creek (BH9)
Cool weather: Dry at the Tonto Trail crossing. Small amounts are occasionally found above Tonto Platform level. Water may also be found downstream about 20 minutes. Hot weather: Dry.
Lone Tree Creek (BJ9)
Cool weather: Small amounts at or below Tonto Trail crossing (the most reliable water source is a half hour walk below the Tonto crossing near a lone cottonwood tree). The spring originates in the Muav. Hot weather: Dry.
Cremation Creek (BJ9)
Dry all year. Occasional potholes in the Tapeats (down the west arm of the drainage).

Emergency Water Sources
Page Spring and Hance Creek (east of Horseshoe Mesa), Burro Spring and Pipe Creek (west of the Tip-off) and Bright Angel Campground (at the bottom of the Kaibab Trail) are reliable. Any of these sources would represent a major detour and will only be utilized by the truly desperate.

Campsites
"At-large" camping is allowed between Cottonwood and Cremation Creeks (see above for use area codes). Hikers should follow Leave No Trace guidelines when selecting campsites to minimize group impact. Campsites are often located where the Tonto Trail crosses the drainages and often on the Tonto Platform between the side canyons. Some regularly used campsites, especially near water, support a resident population of rodents, ravens and other canyon residents; take steps to protect your food and gear.

Segments to Consider:
Grandview Point (7400 ft)toCottonwood Creek, BG9 (3690 ft)4.5 mi
Cottonwood Creek (3690 ft)toGrapevine Creek, BH9 (3550 ft)5.5 mi
Grapevine Creek (3550 ft)toLone Tree Canyon, BJ9 (3680 ft)8.7 mi
Lone Tree Canyon (3680 ft)toCremation Creek, BJ9 (3650 ft)3.5 mi
Cremation Creek (3650 ft)toSouth Kaibab trailhead (7200 ft)6.5 mi
Grandview Point (7400 ft)toSouth Kaibab trailhead (7200 ft)28.7 mi


Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2018-07-14 HAZ_Hikebot
  • book
    area related
  • 100 Classic Hikes - 2007
    area related
    100 Classic Hikes - 2007
  • Grand Canyon Use Area Boundaries - Dynamic Map

One-Way Notice
This hike is listed as One-Way.

When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

Most recent of 15 deeper Triplog Reviews
Tonto Trail: Grandview Trail to South Kaibab
rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
Still a usable trickle at the Tonto crossing, probably won't last long. Not much water in the canyon below the Tonto, although earlier in the season and/or after a wetter winter it would likely be flowing more.

The second bypass in particular is long and gnarly, climbing way up above the canyon floor while crossing multiple ridges and loose slopes. The third bypass down to the river is also steep and loose. Fortunately I brought my packraft along and floated down about a half mile to exit on the Old Grandview trail instead of having to return up Cottonwood and reverse the bypasses.

Overall a similar canyon to nearby Hance and Grapevine, but a bit harder to negotiate and somewhat less scenic.
Tonto Trail: Grandview Trail to South Kaibab
rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
Thanks to Chumley for the inspiration on this one! Old Grandview would make a nice side trip if hiking the Tonto, or maybe a day trip from Cottonwood campground.

Snow on the upper Grandview was still nicely compacted but not icy yet. Returned around the north side of Horseshoe and up between the arms of the mesa.
Tonto Trail: Grandview Trail to South Kaibab
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
Solid trip into the canyon with Vince & Todd. We spent three days below the rim and had the perfect weather for the trip. The hiking was moderate and the views were wonderful as always. With this hike, I have now completed the entire eastern portion of the Tonto all the way from Hermit to New Hance. I hope to finish the western portion in 2013. Finally, a big thanks to Larry (Squatpuke) on this one. He picked up the permits and let us stay at his house in Flag on our first night. He also drove up to the SK trailhead and did a short hike and then shuttled us back to my jeep at Grandview. This trip would not have happened without his help! Thanks again!

See photos descriptions for more details on this trip.
Tonto Trail: Grandview Trail to South Kaibab
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
Another Grand Adventure!

Thanks to Larry for doing all the permit work, giving us a place to crash, and coming up on Sunday for the shuttle. Of course none of these trips would ever happen without 9L doing the planning, and thanks to Vince for making sure there was always somebody in camp in a condition capable of handling any situation that might have come up. Safety first! :)

Stats (for anybody doing research on this route):
Day 1 - Grandview to Grapevine 10.2 miles, 5:00
Day 2 - Grapevine to Lonetree 8.8 miles, 3:05
Day 3 - Lonetree to SKTH 9.2 miles, 4:16 (I was slow)

Water Sources:
Day 1 - Cottonwood Creek at 4.2mi
west fork Cottonwood Creek at 5.7mi
Grapevine Creek at 10.2mi
Day 2 - Boulder Creek at 5.8mi +.25mi up the west fork to reach the water.
Lonetree Canyon at 8.8mi +.5mi up or down canyon to reach the water.
Day 3 - No water after leaving Lonetree canyon.

Story:
Originally 9L and Squat and I were going to do this trip, but when the Nutcracker got a firm grasp on Squat's jewels he had to cancel and take care of daddily obligations. Hippy was going to take his place but after a month or so she finally figured out that hiking on a sprained ankle hasn't served her very well. Luckily Vince was able to go and we still had an ideal group of 3.

To get an early start Friday, we drove to Flag after work Thursday and crashed on the floor at chez squat. Our pre-dawn departure for the canyon went just fine until arriving at the entrance gate where little miss ranger lady had clearly woken up on the wrong side of the bed. 9Ls smooth moves with the ladies were just not cutting it, and $80 later we proceeded toward the trailhead firmly planted 10mph below the limit.

It was surprisingly cold. The clouds were at rim level, leaving us in a thick, cold, wet fog. It was tough to get all geared up and ready to go due to the chill, and we all knew this would be the coldest it would be all weekend. There was maybe one other car at Grandview, which was a nice change from the typical tourist-for-all that you experience up there. Somehow we managed to drop off the rim before 9 and quickly dropped out of the cloud layer.

Not more than 500 yards down the trail we encountered trash in the middle of the trail -- a McCafe coffee cup. With no shyness we discussed with some colorful expletives what kind of dbs would do something like this, followed by a couple of insults of the brand of drink they had chosen. Of course, we rounded the next switchback to meet the people who dropped the cup. They intended to pick it up on their way out, and also had heard everything we said. And they also had a dog on the trail, so I don't think we really cared. But we laughed about it for a while.

We passed a group of 3 near the saddle between the switchback sections, and they were the last people we saw until reaching South Kaibab on Sunday morning. We took a snack break at Horseshoe Mesa before dropping into Cottonwood Canyon. There was plenty of water running in both the main and west forks and we stopped only briefly at each for a couple of photos. The Cottonwoods were all golden during this first weekend of December.

Once on the Tonto, we cruised around to Grapevine and were pleasantly surprised to see and hear plenty of water flowing down the creek adjacent to where we decided to set up camp.

With plenty of time left in the day, Vince and I headed up canyon for a mile or so and I later realized that the Grapevine drainage begins on the west side of Grandview Point, where our day had begun! It was a great canyon, with a steady stream of water flowing, awesome rock formations, colors, narrow slots, short falls, and a few Cottonwoods and other foliage with autumn colors. I could easily have camped here an extra night just to explore this canyon both up and downstream! Just downstream of the Tonto crossing there is a junction to a west fork of the canyon, and that was a fun place to explore too. I always like to have some near-camp exploration options. Even after a long hiking day, I'm not ready to sit or sleep just yet!

We spent the evening enjoying a beverage or two and taking silly night photos featuring stars, headlamps, tents, and party lights. I slept solid!

Saturday morning we topped off our water and headed back out on the Tonto. After having read the triplogs from last fall when Joe, Bruce, Wally, and Denny did this hike as a DAYTRIP, I had gotten the sense that the Tonto is basically a neverending journey into and out of every drainage. Luckily we were only doing it in pieces, and the views truly are awesome. When the trail parallels the inner gorge the ruggedness of the rock and the views and sounds of the river amaze, and when it leaves the gorge for the various canyons, each provides a different canyon experience.

Our first main crossing was Boulder Canyon, which we were pleasantly surprised to find with a reasonable trickle of water about 1/4 mile up the west fork. Plenty of pools for filtering if needed. The east fork was dry as far up as I ventured. We stopped and took a break here before continuing on toward Lonetree. Upon arriving there, I was a bit concerned not to find any water. None of us was prepared to spend the night and hike the next day without further water, and we were fairly certain that this was the last chance. Would we have to backtrack to Boulder Canyon?

I dropped my pack at the presumed campsite and headed up canyon looking for pools or any sign of flow like we had found in Boulder. Nothing. Dry, dry, dry. I found a sandy pool that might have had 2 liters in it. That wouldn't be enough. I kept going. Finally I reached an area with a lone pine tree and some low shrubs and some grasses. The hillside revealed what I recognized as the markings of a seep, though it was dry. I climbed uphill from here and slowly became encouraged by a little bit of squishy earth under my feet. After fighting some shrubs and tree branches, I emerged face-to-face with a cliff wall and a nice patch of healthy green moss and a few steady streams of water flowing out of the rock. Bonus!

I of course had not brought a water container with me, and the only catch here was that I had hiked at least half an hour from our camp. Oh well. I timed my hike back and reached the others in 20 minutes. I found out that 9L had discovered water down canyon as well. Also about a 20 minute walk. It was definitely easier to get to the spring down canyon from the crossing, but the spring up canyon was pure out of the rock and doesn't need filtering (Your mileage may vary. Proceed at your own risk.)

With the water issue solved, we set up camp and settled in with only a bit more exploring. I was stung by some kind of canyon bug that caused me to lose motor skills, and despite potentially injuring myself, I made it into my tent for a night of sleep and recovery.

Sunday we didn't get on the trail until after 9 because I had to get more water, which is basically an hourlong process with the hike to and from. We set out on the Tonto, and this section is totally different from the section before Lonetree. Instead of a mostly flat trail, it now dives in and out of the canyons it traverses. Just adding a few hundred feet of AEG here and there to the upcoming climb out SK.

Eventually, the bright white switchbacks of SK appear in the distance ... a few miles and a couple of canyons from actually getting there. I cut off the Tonto about half a mile before the junction, and blazed up an easy ridgeline and met up with the SK just below the start of the switchbacks. It shaved about 20 minutes and .9 miles off the hike. There's no trail, and no cairns, but was clearly used by others and in places a faint trail exists.

From here it was just slow going for me since I just couldn't get my energy up despite my hydration and food intake. So I just made my own pace, taking short breaks when needed. The views from SK really are amazing, and there were very few people on the trail, even above Cedar Ridge, so I wasn't annoyed by tourons. There was a mule train behind me the whole way, but it never caught up so I was not even subjected to the dust and bodily excretions thereof. :)

When I got to the top Vince was waiting for me as 9L and Squat had gone to get the car from Grandview. We packed up and headed to Flagstaff for pizza and wings before the long drive back to the valley and a ridiculously early bedtime.

Yeah. Sweet trip! :y:
Tonto Trail: Grandview Trail to South Kaibab
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
After a long day of work the three of us set out Thursday night for Flagstaff. Arriving late at Squatpuke's cave :thanx: we chatted for some time and hit the sack.

The morning came early and we sad goodbye to a sad Squatpuke. :cry: We arrived at The Grandview trailhead and jumped out of the jeep. We quickly scrambled for our hats, gloves, "puffy jackets" and layers. :scared: After a few last minutes rearranging gear we headed off. Two minutes into our hike we stumble across a MD coffee mug sitting in the middle of the trail. :x Some words were expressed between us (along the lines of who the :pk: would leave that there and they can't even afford the good stuff) and we carried on. Thirty seconds down trail we find the owner of the cup (who also had a unfriendly dog [-X ). We jokingly asked if he heard our conversation and he of course did. :guilty: After feeling like a bunch of real :pk: , we carried on.

We passed a group of day hikers within the first twenty minutes, and these would be the last people we could see till we hit the SK trail. We meandered down the trail, chatting like a bunch of teen girls. :GB: After descending for some time we passed through the Cottonwood camp area. The are was lush with available trees to hang, plenty of tent spaces, gentle streams and lots of colors. It was tempting to stop here and enjoy the campsite, but it wasn't far enough for us.

After some sketchy passes along 1000 foot drops we arrived at our campsite for the night. There were three solid tent spots, a tree to hang stuff from and a few more spots down stream. The water was flowing decently here and provided an ideal mood for the campsite. :worthy: Although the trees were limited, with a little creativity it would be possible to find a spot to hang (possibly hanging from a tree and somewhere off the rock walls). The campsite was free of ravens, mice and we only had to deal with nats for a few hours. Chumley and I cruised upstream to locate the source for the stream. We were unsuccesful, but did find the ram skull and plenty of photo ops along the way. :y: The dark came quick that evening, but did provide a great canvas to practice some light trail photos. While attempting to get a camp night shot I stumbled across a small group of deer in the darkness. :scared: After realizing they were deer I relaxed and continued on. They would be the only wildlife we would see in this campsite, at least until the ravens arrived in the morning.

The next day took us farther down the Tonto trail. The conversation dwindled as we enjoyed the views. Shortly after beginning our hike we stumbled upon the group of deer from the evening. After a few miles of winding out of this particular canyon we hit the Tonto super highway and kicked it in full throttle. :PMIC: Before we knew it we stumbled into our second campsite at Lone Tree. We were concerned with the dry creek bed that passed through camp. The campsite was ideal, with the exception of the water. There were multiple tent spots and with more creative hanging it would be possible to hang from rock and a tree. (bring extra rope). Shortly after arriving Chumley headed upstream to find water and John9L headed down.....stream :sl: . Both came back with water reports. There was a spring 20 minutes up and 15 minutes down. The one above involved some bush wacking : rambo : . Both were decent but if you needed to pump the one downstream was ideal.

The next morning (or afternoon for Chumley :zzz: ) we hit the Tonto highway again and really hammered down. Holding a solid speed for some time we spread out across the trail. The deer were out grazing and we startled a few. With time the SK trail came into view and my pace picked up. : rambo : After a few steep crossings we hit the SK trail. Halfway up I stopped to chat with Squatpuke just long enough, and before my heart rate could drop I pushed on for the top. The top was in site and I blazed past a few more day hikers and tossed my pack off. :wlift:

Overall the trip was a blast. The trail was interesting, but parts of the Tonto were boring. The hike is ideal for tent, bivy, or tarp hikers. It can be done hanging, but have a back up plan, especially if there are multiple hangers.
Tonto Trail: Grandview Trail to South Kaibab
rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
A fine day, sunny and breezy, with no ice on the way down Grandview, lots of water in all the usual places, pretty good wildflowers, some wildlife (3 young and bold mule deer) and a fun little canyon route. Then a late afternoon squall blows in suddenly with howling winds and I end the day with a dusting of snow falling on the Rim!
Tonto Trail: Grandview Trail to South Kaibab
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
3.5 Days:

Broke trail down the New Hance, it appears several had walked to the head of the trail and turned around after finding it unbroken. I hit all the right moves. The trail was seldom seen for the first two hours, and spotty all the way to the Redwall. Drifts up to 2 feet, but surprisingly, it wasn't bad at all until below the Coconino. Very little ice but a lot of snow, I'm glad I had my yaktrax.

Hit the river, found the beach empty - but no time to waste. Climb back up and head for Hance Creek. Along the way I am hobbled by leg cramps, too much for my body in one day after lack of training for this trip due to illness and other issues. Made it to Hance by 9PM. The moon was my guide, didn't really use the headlamp.

Day 2: Climbed up the Miners Spring route to an empty Horseshoe Mesa, and down to Cottonwood. My quads are still complaining, badly, and I'm making poor time. I consider camping at Cottonwood, but press on for Grapevine. Spent a beautiful, but cold night in Grapevine next to the creek.

Day 3: Hobble my way along to the Tonto, pausing at Lonetree to collect water. The going is good until I get to Cremation. What the hell happened to the nice Tonto trail as you near Cremation? It's like someone from an insane asylum took over trail routing. I think I will try Butchart's route next time, if ever, and avoid the mess.

Day 4: Out the South Kaibob with the hiker shortcut, 3.5 hours to the rim from starting. Legs somewhat better. Hiked to highway 64 and continue for about a mile until I finally hitched a ride with some lovely German exchange students back to my car.


Updated water report for this last weekend:

Red Canyon: water flowing mid canyon where the trail comes down, however it dries up a mile before the beach.

Hance Creek: Mild flow @ Tonto crossing, not as strong as the last time I was there in previous years, but should be good for at least several weeks, I would guess.

Cottonwood: Mild flow of main west fork (last 3/4 mile of Cottonwood trail to the Tonto), not as strong as the last time I was there, but should be good for at least several weeks, I would guess. Main east fork barely a trickle and would be difficult to collect with a filter, impossible with a bottle.

Grapevine: Good Flow in a western side-tributary and the main west fork is flowing very strongly, east fork was dry. Grapevine was the winner for the most water, by far.

Burro: Dry

Boulder: There are 2 small shallow puddles downstream of the trail crossing, one is almost fully evaporated, the other won't last more than a week. I didn't walk upcanyon to check, but didn't see anything promising from looking at it from the Tonto. Others with more experience describe it as likely, but from my perspective it didn't appear promising unless one was willing to hike at least a half hour upcanyon.

Lonetree: Slight flow, a bit more than a trickle, but there are big pools at the trail crossing.

Cremation Forks: Dry, dry, and dry.
Tonto Trail: Grandview Trail to South Kaibab
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
Another great backpackaraftacanyoneering trip! :y: But this time we did it with some ropes in the upper Granite Gorge as opposed to previous trips up in Marble Canyon or that non-technical Clear Creek Loop. Even while doing exhausting wild trips in the Grand Canyon, I still find it best to ever so slowly increase the difficulty so that we're only facing 1-2 new challenges per trip. This being my first technical canyon thru the Vishnu Schist and my buddies first packrafting trip thru the upper Granite Gorge requiring a few portages around the gnarly rapids. :sweat:

The route is fairly straight forward yet quite challenging. We got an early start on the hikers' express shuttle to the S Kaibab TH and dropped down that slightly icy trail. Thankfully the ice soon cleared as we quickly dropped down that scenic trail. Before we knew it we were taking the shortcut down to the Tonto, which was rather warm for February as we were climbing in & out of the few upper forks of Cremation Canyon. Cremation is also a technical canyon in Todd's new book which could probably be done in a long day though he only gave it two stars... Back on the Tonto trail we soon crossed Lonetree canyon, another technical side canyon, and soon afterwards we reached the non-technical side canyon of Boulder Canyon. A few down climbs, with one of them above a bighorn skeleton, brought us down to the wide middle Boulder canyon. Soon we were dropping into beautiful Vishnu Schist upper narrows which were descended with some easy down climbs, a short rappel, followed by a cool 40ft rappel, and bypassing a 30ft waterfall. The lower narrows just kept getting better & better with another 40ft trickling falls rappel, with a double drop hallway rappel of 125ft from a deadman anchor, followed by an awkward yet sweet 120ft tight crack rappel. :o Be mindful of how the rope runs over that top rock and how the rappel line runs past the chockstones in the crack. We got the ropes stuck fairly good requiring me to ascend back up that tight crack and my solution was to run the pullside over the rockface outside of the crack and re-direct the rappel line so it better avoided the chockstones in the crack. That of course ate up some time so we were making that final 30ft rappel in the dark and we were super excited when we reached the mouth of Boulder Canyon with perfect sandy beach to camp on. :DANCE:

Now when you're carrying packrafts, wetsuits, oars, PFDs, ropes, and canyoneering gear you really don't have much left over room for camping gear. So it's no surprise that we've all streamlined our sleeping gear down to small goose bags & inflatable Big Agnes pads. :) Freshly pumped water, the churning Colorado River in the background, near perfect weather on that warm evening, a warm Mountain House dinner, and a soft sandy beach to sleep on all made for yet another super amAZing night in the Grand Canyon. :D It was overcast and lightly sprinkling the next morning while we were packing up, pumping up the rafts, and putting on our wetsuits and PFDs. Now we may all be experienced Grand Canyon hikers and canyoneers who are just recently putting those two together, but we're all rather new to packrafting down the Colorado River and this would be our most riskiest float yet. :o We had three gnarly rapids to bypass this time, small by GC standards, and I spent the most time in planning for the trip by memorizing the river layout. ;) Within a mile of putting in the river, we were bypassing 83-mile rapid on the left which was the toughest portage since the current is moving rather quickly and you can't see them until you get rather close. Thankfully the same forces from the side canyons that form the rapids usually also leave from rock on the side to get out and walk around the rapids. :sweat: A half mile down river, we passed Clear Creek canyon and plowed thru some medium riffles before making the much easier portage around Zoraster rapids on the left. We put back on the river quite briefly before again were bypassing on the right side of 85-mile rapid. This rapid wasn't too intense if you could aim for the right side but if you sucked down the middle you'd be sucked into a few 3-6ft deep holes. :o No thanks, I'll bypass. :lol: Back on the river, we hit a few more rough sections which easily swap our pool toys but after Cremation rapids it's smooth sailing to baoters' beach just past the Black Bridge. Some NPS river rangers caught up to us just after Cremation and wanted to see my permits, so I actually finised up the float on their raft while digging out the permits and having a friendly & informative chat with them. :) They of course thought we were flipping crazy for rafting the river in glorified pool toys. :whistle:

Once back at the beach, we had the slow process of getting out of the wet gearing and putting on dry clothes, deflating & packing away the river gear, drying out the ropes & wetsuits a bit and grabbing lunch while warming back up under the warm sun. :GB: The hike out with 40-50 pound wets packs up the gradual Bright Angel trail was prob the quiestest and least enjoyable part of the trip but at least it wasn't too warm with the overcast and sometimes rainy weather. The ice was melted and turned into slush and the north rim was quite scenic while watching the clouds and walls of rains plowing thru it's many canyons & temples. I slowed down quite a bit near the end but at least I topped out just after sunset. :sweat:
Tonto Trail: Grandview Trail to South Kaibab
rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
Tonto Trail Grandview to Bright Angel
I had perfect weather for this hike! Low 60s, breezy with cloud cover. A few sprinkles but just barely. Heard it snowed a bit on the rim while I was down on the Tonto.

Went down on the east side of Horseshoe Mesa by Page Spring and picked up the Tonto there. Wow, Grapevine is epic Tonto contouring! That part never ends, took me 1:35 to clear it. I planned on exiting at S. Kaibab but by the time I got to the junction I still felt good so I continued on to Bright Angel.

3.25 liters
Tonto Trail: Grandview Trail to South Kaibab
rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
Grandview - South Kaibab Loop
i find it amazing how quickly i forgot the pain on this one. two days later, i wanted to go back. but if anyone tries to tell you that the tonto trail is flat, don't believe them.

day 1: down the grandview trail. ow.
day 2: try to recover from day 1 while hiking up and down, up and down the tonto.
day 3: pretty much a repeat of day 2.
day 4: out on the south kaibab trail. ow.

all kidding aside, it was a wonderful trip with a great group of people. i'd go back in a heartbeat.

Permit $$
no fees or permits reported

if incorrect tell us about it


Directions
Map Drive
or
Road
Connector trail - Not Applicable

To Grandview Trailhead
From Flagstaff head west on I-40 for 30.4 mi to SR-64. Turn right/north and follow SR-64 55 miles to the park. You will receive a map & information at the GC park entrance. From Grand Canyon Village drive about 9.8 miles east on the rim road to Grandview Point. Please use the upper parking lot for overnight parking.

From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 242 mi - about 3 hours 50 mins
From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 347 mi - about 5 hours 20 mins
From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 95.0 mi - about 1 hour 41 mins
128 GB Flash Drive... $14
help comment issue

end of page marker