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The Best Hikes of Tonto Trail

262 Triplog Reviews in the Tonto Trail
Most recent of 168 deeper Triplog Reviews
27.94 mi • 4,979 ft aeg
South Bass to Tonto to Boucher. South Bass is in good shape. Trailhead had four cars at it, all high clearance AWD or 4x4, except for one high clearance 2WD. Spoke with group headed out who said 2WD high clearance vehicle struggled on driving the unofficial fence line/boundary route they used to bypass the reservation. camped at Serpentine the first night, and hauled all water up for next 2 days from the Colorado river. Outdated and/or inaccurate water reports from backcountry office and FB users meant we left Serpentine with 20 liters of water for two people. The following is the water notes collected:

-South Bass Trailhead to Serpentine Canyon is Dry. No water up canyon (5 minute walk). Muddy pools (10 liters) found at Tonto crossing. Muddy pools found sporadically to the Colorado. Easy walking to the Colorado; we filled 23 liters from the river for the next few days.

-Tonto dry till Ruby Canyon. 8 pools found near Tonto crossing. Pools vary in size from a few liters to half a bathtub worth. Pools continue downstream (within a minutes walk from Tonto). No pools found above Tonto crossing (3 minute walk).

-Tonto dry till Turquoise Canyon. Small pool found downstream from Tonto crossing. Easy down climb to access pool. 10+ liters worth at pool. Pool is located in spot with partial sun exposure. Upstream (1 minute walk under a 15ft dry fall) there is a large clear pool (1’x 2’) 4’ deep. Pool is well shaded.

-Tonto dry till Sapphire Canyon. 4’x4’ 5” deep pool found at trail crossing. No pools upstream (3 minute walk). No pools downstream (1 minute walk).

-Tonto dry till Slate canyon. Small 1 liter pool at trail crossing. Moderate pool located 10 seconds down canyon on East side. Pool can be seen from trail crossing. A small down climb is required to access pool. Pool is 4’x3’ 5” deep. Murky water. We pulled supplemental water from here.

Cut the trip short by a night and hiked out Boucher due to burning through more food then we planned. Boucher is not in the best of shape. Bits have held up well, others would be difficult to descend with a loaded pack. The Tonto Trail between South Bass and Boucher occasionally required stopping and guiding using GPS. Trail would fade and then reappear. Lots of fresh growth from the rains this year. Cacti is doing great! Only saw one other person on the Tonto at Serpentine.
20 mi • 5,300 ft aeg
Hermit/Tonto/Boucher Loop
I’m in the very early stages of trying to hike the Canyon’s named trails. This weekend was supposed to be the Hermit/Boucher loop on Sunday and an out-and-back on New Hance or Tanner on Monday. Only finished the first.

I’d done Hermit before, and love it. Started at ~6:15. I really enjoy the extended lateral hikes between the steep drops on Hermit. It feels so much more organic to me than Bright Angel or Kaibab (though it lacks Kaibab’s huge views). It’s also not as brutally steep as Grandview. I had the trail to myself, and trail conditions remain excellent. I encountered four backpackers coming out of Hermit Camp. I imagine they had a really cold night but they looked in good spirits. I refilled a liter there and continued on the Tonto. Conditions were chilly, clear and beautiful. I was feeling kind of weak for some reason, which was going to punish me on the way up Boucher. It also took away my motivation to take pictures – I just wanted to keep moving.

Reports that you should go up Boucher, rather than down, are absolutely spot on. Steep and pebbly in some sections, scrambly in a few others, it was definitely a chore going uphill, but it’s not something I would have wanted to go down. It’s striking how much less maintained it is than Hermit, given their proximity. It also suffers from repeatedly entering drainages, which I imagine makes maintenance challenging. There was no water on trail. I have to say, I don’t anticipate going out of my way to take Boucher again. Hermit is just so much easier to climb. I was pooped by the end, and scuttled the idea of New Hance or Tanner, while putting away a pizza and some beer. It’s a bit of a schlep to drive from the Valley to the Canyon for a single day hike, but I just couldn’t motivate. Next time!
39.09 mi • 9,550 ft aeg
Back to the Grand Canyon to finish some more Tonto Trail and check out Old Grandview Trail. Took a taxi from GC Visitor Center to Grandview TH…$24 one way for anyone considering the option. First night the goal was camp at Cottonwood Creek from Grandview TH so we only had to hike about 6.8 miles. Starting about 130 we made it camp by 530. Being the drier part of the year there was no water at the crossing of Cottonwood so dropped the pack and ventured upstream and found some small pools about ¼ mile up as well as nice camp close by among some cottonwoods.

Day 2 we wanted to check out Old Grandview Trail down to the Colorado River which is about 2.5 miles from Cottonwood Creek. There is a large cairn marking the junction which drops abruptly from the rim towards the river. The first part is not too bad but the bottom half is very steep and loose scree and boulders abound. Once at the river we took a nice long break spending over an hour. Two boat crews passed by and one offered a beverage which is always welcome :) After the break we headed back up which was much easier going up the scree and took about 30 minutes less. Back at the junction it’s 3 miles over to Grapevine Canyon and camp for the second night. Again no water at the crossing but there were some clear pools downstream a few hundred yards.

Day 3 the camp was at Lonetree Canyon continuing west bound on Tonto Trail but our main concern was water. So we headed out early with the goal of spending the afternoon searching for water. Fortunately we found it about 3 or 4 tenths of mile downstream from the trail crossing. The source is a spring that’s probably reliable all year and is marked by a lone cottonwood tree. We rested in the shade and filtered water with the relief that the search was easier than expected. Then headed back to camp and relaxed rest of the afternoon.

Day 4 just needed to make it out of the canyon with little more 10 miles to South Kaibab TH. Of course there were very few people seeing only 3 in 23 miles from Horseshoe Mesa below Grandview to the Tip Off at South Kaibab. Once on the SK it was back to the crowds but nice to do this trip in 4 days with plenty of time to enjoy Old Grandview Trail and Tonto Trail.
35.5 mi • 6,775 ft aeg
BA Tonto Monument Hermit
Been sitting on these permits for 2 months now and finally it was time to go back to the Grand Canyon! I took my oldest daughter there last year for her birthday and she had a blast, so we did it again this year and also brought the boy and his friend. Stevie Wonder and my friends Corey and Alix rounded out our group of 7.
Camped in the forest near Tusayan on Thursday and got an early start on Friday morning down Bright Angel. This is my first official time down the BA. So many people it reminded me of the Squaw Peak superhighway but more international. Great views the whole way down to Indian Gardens. Everything was still nice and green. Took a short break here and filled up on water. Then on to the fun stuff. The Tonto has got to be one of the best trails of all time. It keeps a pretty steady elevation as it winds in and out of every side canyon. The views never stop on this trail. Neither does the sun. After stopping at Horn Creek for a short break we continued towards Salt Creek. This is when several in our group started to break down a bit due to the heat. Thankfully, Salt Creek had some nice shaded ledges to lay down on. We rested and fueled up and headed to Monument Creek. On the decent down to Monument Creek through the Tapeats, we saw 4 kingsnakes. Enjoyed the penthouse suite again at Monument.
Saturday we packed up and headed down to the river. This whole day was spent just relaxing on the beach. The Granite Rapids research project is looking good as several of the recently planted trees had grown quite a bit since last year. After some cliff jumping, the guys mostly just relaxed while Madi did gymnastics and the boys played baseball.. what a surprise.. Several groups of rafters passed through the rapids and a few stopped at the beach before hitting the whitewater. A group of 30 senior citizens on an 8 day rafting trip shared the beach with us for the night. The crew of Jay, Margeaux, and Leila were AWESOME!! After 4 days on the water with the seniors they were so happy to see the kids! They fed us real food and gave us beer.. THEY GAVE US BEER! :y: Probably the best part of the whole trip was when Margeaux and the crew threw Madi a birthday party at the river, complete with cake and singing! She loved the attention (and the cake)! What a special moment for her.
Next day we helped them pack up and wished them off down the river. Our group then made the 5 mile hike over to Hermit Creek. All of the camp sites were on the east side of the canyon and exposed to the sun so we spent a majority of the day hanging out at a nice waterfall. We did make it down to Hermit Rapids and the beach there. The rapids were intense but the beach there was not that impressive (compared to Granite). However, the hike through this canyon was really cool. I really liked how it went from narrows with some cool waterfalls to a very expansive but still closed in canyon. Back at camp with our larger group, we were very close to running out of fuel but another group was headed out that night and they were happy to get rid of the extra weight so it worked out perfect. They even gave us some of their extra food! We ate very well that night and got a good nights rest for the hike out the next day.
Beat the sun to Cope Butte and made it up the Cathedral Stairs no problem. Took a nice break at Santa Maria and then up up up.. That last stretch of coconino and kaibab are brutal, but victory was ours to be had. FYI the best ice cream cookie bars are at Hermits Rest, and its not even close..

Overall this was an awesome adventure and we had a really great team to share it with. A lot of times I take these trips to be alone with nature and to be secluded, but ironically what made this trip so great was everyone on our team and all of the awesome people we met on the journey.
21.69 mi • 5,800 ft aeg
Boucher Hermit Loop
Full disclaimer: I tanked it on the climb out and was praying God would get me up the last 2.2 miles. Joe's mileage is a little more for coming back down and carrying me out.
Wally wasn't feeling good but still drove us up, hiked the first couple miles, then hiked and napped on top until I dragged myself out. He rocks!
The hike itself was a good one and the trails are in pretty good shape. A couple small rock slides but the trail is still visible. This is a good loop. With the wildflowers putting on a show and Joe and Dave joining me it really was enjoyable for the most part. I would say if your going to filter do it at Hermits creek as it's on the way. Santa Maria spring has water in the tank you could filter but not as clean. The pipe was not dripping enough to filter from.
After the hike we took an adventurous ride on the shuttle and meet back up with Wally. We all went over to Maswik food court to eat before the drive home. Thanks to Joe,Dave and Wally for another great outing,like HAZ, :yr:
22.94 mi • 5,800 ft aeg
Boucher Hermit Loop
T'was the day before Easter and all through the canyon we searched for companions. A bunny was not to be found yet the buttonose chipmunk near and dear emitted strange sounds.

Shivering was the name of the game for the first hour followed by perfection for the balance. After five miles it felt like we were still near the rim.

Just a nice hike until the mother of all wildflower shows along my least favorite Tonto killed the pace.

Lunched in the shade of the narrows along Hermit Creek before hiking out. Denny didn't care for the ascent but found the gear to get us out before the buses stopped.

Great to hike new terrain and Dave had a funny or two to share. Big thx to Wally for driving, he's been under the weather this week.

Bazillion Sego Lilies, brittlebush gone wild
35.65 mi • 9,452 ft aeg
Boucher Rapids Hermit Loop
We had done this loop before but without going down to Boucher Rapids so this time we added that piece. Down Boucher went without any issues and all the steep sections were easy to navigate. Took short break at Boucher Creek before heading out to the rapids. Lunch at Boucher Rapids getting there about noon and took 45 minute break to enjoy the river which was unfortunately muddy brown but still nice to see.

After lunch headed back to Tonto Trail junction above Boucher Creek and started the traverse over to Hermit Creek. We had forgotten how long this section is at about 5 miles but made it to Hermit Creek and took another break to fill up water and recharge for the climb out. It was almost 4pm and Hermit camp site was filling up so we talked to couple of the guys. Water topped off and ready to go we headed up Hermit and the long climb. Slow going uphill and reached Santa Maria Spring as it was getting dark. Another short break and last push to the top.

We knew the last bus was about 730 so at this point we were pretty sure wouldn't make that arriving about 1 hour late. Backup plan was to call taxi from Hermits Rest which would have worked if the signal was strong enough. Tried several times but the call kept dropping before I could tell the guy to send taxi to Hermit's Rest. So we started walking the road back to the Bright Angel Lodge where the vehicle was parked. Long day made longer by extra walk but cool to see the rapids!
26.24 mi • 8,287 ft aeg
Grand Canyon Christmas
Christmas in the Grand Canyon staying at Phantom Ranch in the cabins. We started from Bright Angel TH hoping to hike in the snow but it didn't start until afternoon and by then we were too low for snow. At Indian Gardens we decided to take Tonto Trail east across to South Kaibab for something a bit different. Then down to Phantom Ranch with a steady but light rain.

Next day we headed up North Kaibab Trail to Ribbon Falls and Upper Ribbon Falls
[ triplog ]
Chilly day but the storm had moved through and it started to clear up. Arrived back at Phantom Ranch for a beverage before dinner.

Last day we packed up and headed out the River Trail and up Bright Angel. Part way up we hopped on the Old Bright Angel Trail but had trouble fining the start and ended up skipping the first 1/4 mile of it which looked very steep from above. The rest of Old Bright Angel was decent and easy to follow for old trail. On top the trail came out on the Tonto near Indian Gardens. Short break there and continued up the trail looking at the snow left over from 2 days ago.

We finally started to see some snow just below 3 mile rest house. By the time we reached mile and half rest house the snow was several inches. The last mile and half up to the rim was great hike through the fresh snow. Nice to see everything with snow cap!
30 mi • 2,424 ft aeg
Being both heathens and scrooges, the wife and I decided to disappear into the Canyon for a few days over the weekend. This was our first trip on the Grandview and our first extended walk on the Tonto. We loved both of them!

Grandview was terrific--a bit icy but no problem with Microspikes. We made it to the end of Horseshoe Mesa before the storm really hit. But then we had cold rain for the last few miles to Cottonwood. Luckily, we've dealt with cold rain plenty of times on our thru hikes, so we didn't have any trouble. We pitched the tent, changed into warm clothes, spent a few hours reading, cooked dinner in our tarp vestibule, and managed to stay nice and warm despite the hours of constant cold rain outside.

Amazingly, despite the rain continuing well into Saturday night, we woke to an xmas miracle on Sunday--a dry tarp! Thank you, gusty winds that blew our tarp around all night. The Tonto was great, especially the area around Grapevine, and we really enjoyed the walking all day. The snow level was down to around 5,000, which was nice to see without being in it. We camped at Lone Tree, which is technically part of the Cremation use area now. Unfortunately, the super short daylight hours didn't give us any time to explore the canyons we crossed. We're saving that for another trip.

Total sightings on the Grandview and Tonto: 5 mule deer, 7 bighorn sheep, 0 people. That's just the ratio of wildlife to human sightings that we prefer.

The lower part of South Kaibab was a muddy, gross mess, and I swore to myself that I will never hike that trail again shortly after a storm. The upper part was mostly packed snow, no ice yet. But this was just 2 days after the storm. We didn't need use the Microspikes on the way up, but you might think about traction devices if you're planning a trip here in the near future--it will be icy soon enough. Anyway, we made great time on the way out...until the trailhead. The bus and the visitors' center parking lot were absolutely mobbed, and it took us 15 minutes just to get from our parking spot to the park road! I guess Boxing Day is prime time for park visits.

Anyway, a great time, and we'll be back soon.

(FYI: note that our water reports were all from immediately after two big, wet storms.)
27.88 mi • 7,398 ft aeg
Hermit Monument Tonto & BA
Work has been really busy these past few months and I can't take time off right now. This limits my backpacking options to weekends. So I was very content to fit this trip to the Canyon in to a weekend window. And perfect weather for an early-winter Canyon hike!

We stayed with friends in Flag on Friday night, then left for the South Rim at 5a.m. We started hiking from Hermit's Rest at 7. After a little less than two miles east, along the Tonto, we headed down Monument creek to the Colorado, and then back up to spend some time in the narrows section. Monument Creek was definitely the highlight of this trip! We left Monument at 3:15pm and continued along the Tonto until we arrived at our campsite in Salt Creek backcountry area. It was about 5p.m. and the sun was setting in the Canyon. This left about 12+ miles for Sunday's hike out: east on the Tonto, and then up Bright Angel.

Snow conditions: scattered drifts on the rim. About 0.5 inch or so for the first mile on the Hermit, but no significant ice. BA has snow and scattered ice for the highest 1.5 miles. This was actually quite slippery, but trekking poles were enough. We all had microspikes, but no one wanted to stop and put them on when we were so close to the end of our hike.

Temps: 24 degrees on the rim when we departed down the Hermit, 28 degrees at our campsite on Salt Creek, 60 at Indian Gardens at noon, and 43 back on the rim at 2:15p.m. -- Not too bad, if you're prepared for it!

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