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Grand Canyon National Park - OutdoorPlaces.Com
Destinations > Grand Canyon NP > Inner Canyon > 1 | 2  >>> South Rim

 Hiking & Backcountry, Inner Canyon

 

 
There are hundreds of miles of trails that crisscross through the inner Canyon.  You can access them from a number of points including the North Kaibab Trail, The South Kaibab Trail, and The Grandview Trail.  Hiking to and in the inner Canyon of the Grand Canyon is very serious business.  Extreme heat and terrain make for difficult hiking conditions.  There is almost a complete lack of water and rescue can range from difficult to almost impossible.  Every year there are senseless tragedies at Grand Canyon mostly due to ill-prepared hikers.

You must be in very good physical condition to backcountry hike in the inner canyon.  Beyond the obvious that it requires the stamina to hike in and hike out, one gallon of water weighs 8.8 pounds alone!  As you descent 1,000 feet in altitude, the air temperature will go up from 3 to 6 degrees.  That means if it is 85 at the Bright Angel Trailhead and could be as hot as 105 degrees on the Tonto Trail.  When the editors of OutdoorPlaces.Com were at the Grand Canyon this year, there were two fatalities, one heat related and one a tragic fall from one of the observation points on the South Rim.

You should start your descent as early in the day as possible.  Arizona does not follow daylight savings time, so sunrise in late June can come as early as 5:10 AM.  Sometimes trail access is restricted due to extreme heat at the bottom of the canyon.  You can call 520-638-7888 and press 1-3-1 to get the latest trail conditions.  You should not hike during the heat of the day (10:00 AM to 3:00 PM).  Make sure to carry plenty of water, and a full complement of safety and survival gear.  Don't have the sun be your enemy, but your aid.  Time your hikes when the suns location casts shadows into the section of the Canyon you are traversing.

Backcountry permits, and a reservation at the Phantom Ranch if you plan to stay there are required for hikers staying overnight in the inner Canyon backcountry.  Backcountry Permits need to be obtained well in advance to your hike, at least six months before is ideal.  You can write to the Backcountry Office, PO BOX 129, Grand Canyon, Arizona 86023 to request your permit.  You can fill out an online form to print and send to the above address or fax to (520) 638-2125.  You can also call (520) 638-7875 to speak with some one in the Backcountry Permit office directly, keeping in mind that they will not be able to take your application over the phone.  If you complete the online form you will have to print it out and mail or fax it. The National Park Service has no provisions to apply online for a backcountry permit.  Click here to fill out the form  If you have an advanced reservation at the Phantom Ranch, and plan to reach there is a single day you do not need to apply for a backcountry permit.

Hikers wishing to go on a waiting list for permits can apply in person when staying at the South Rim, at the Backcountry Office, located by the Maswik Transportation Center, just west of the Historic District.  Office hours are from 8:00 AM to 12:00 noon, and 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM.  Hikers wishing to go on a waiting list for permits can apply in person at the North Rim Backcountry Office, located at the Ranger Station close to the North Rim Campground.  There are no guarantees you will get a slot to hike down if you are on the wait list.  Cost for the permit is $20, and there is a $4 per-person User Impact Fee.

Ultimately you are responsible for your own safety when hiking into the canyon.  You should never hike the inner canyon alone.  Make sure to take a map, a navigation device and know how to use them.  GPS receivers can have problems in some areas in the canyon so make sure to take a compass also.  Carry at least one gallon of water and know your limitations  Hikers that are deemed to have put themselves or others at risk, or are ill-equipped can be arrested or fined.  People requiring a rescue effort can be billed for the associated rescue costs.  The National Park Service responds to approximately 400 medical emergencies in the Grand Canyon each year.
 

Grand Canyon National Park, Stock Photograph, ClickArt, Broderbund Software

 
Hermit
Trail to Dripping Springs, Lookout Point, Monument Trail & Tonto Trail

Trailhead Location & Access:  Hermits Rest scenic overlook can be accessed by taking the West Rim Loop Shuttle that run from one hour before sunrise, to one hour before sunset, with buses running approximately every 10 minutes
Type:  overnight to extended backcountry trip
Length: 7 miles to Dripping Springs
Hiking Time:  6 to 10 hours
Difficulty:  strenuous narrow trail, fall hazard
Description:  This is an un-maintained, very steep trail that heads south for about a mile before turning to the north.  It is about 3 miles to Santa Maria Springs which is a very popular hike in the park.  You can take the Dripping Springs Trail West to Dripping Springs which is a very beautiful with an oasis of flowers and greenery in the late spring and early summer.  You can take the Hermit trail north, into the Canyon.  Camping is available at Lookout Point and the Hermit Trail ends at the Monument Trail running west to east, at the 3,000 foot elevation point in the Canyon.  Monument Trail connects with the Tonto Trail going east.  Specific information should be obtained from the National Park Service.  You should also obtain the Trails Illustrated Grand Canyon National Park Topographical Map, number 207.

Hermits Rest offers restrooms, potable water, and a small snackbar.  The water at Santa Maria Springs and Dripping Springs is not potable and must be treated and/or filtered.

Before hiking you should check with park rangers for specific conditions or call 520-638-7888 and press 1-3-1.

Grandview Trail to Horseshoe Mesa and the Tonto Trail

Trailhead Location & Access:  Grandview Trailhead is located on East Rim Drive, about 12 miles east of the National Park Service Grand Canyon Visitors Center at Grandview Point.  You can access this point on foot, bicycle, or by private vehicle.
Length: 6 miles to Horseshoe Mesa
Hiking Time:  4 to 11 hours
Difficulty:  extremely strenuous narrow trail, fall hazard
Description:  This is an un-maintained, very steep trail that heads north into the Grand Canyon.  Visitors can hike 3/4 of a mile to Coconino Saddle for a short hike into the Grand Canyon.  Due to the difficulty of the trail, day hiking is not recommended beyond that point.  Horseshoe Mesa has toilets and a campground.  The trailheads to the East Horseshoe Mesa Trail and the Tonto Trail can be accessed here.  You can take the Tonto Trail west to the South Kaibab Trail to access Phantom Ranch or the Bright Angel Campground, but that would be an extreme hike in one day and should only be attempted by experts in desert hiking and camping.  You will have to carry all water, there are no natural or manmade water sources available on this trail.  You should also obtain the Trails Illustrated Grand Canyon National Park Topographical Map, number 207.

Before hiking you should check with park rangers for specific conditions or call 520-638-7888 and press 1-3-1.

Tonto Trail

Trailhead Location & Access:  Multiple points of access.  Can only be accessed by foot by hiking down into the Canyon.  Grandview Trail, South Kaibab Trail, Bright Angel Trail, Monument Trail, Hermit Rest Trail all provide access by connection or directly to the Tonto Trail.
Length: Including connections in the east to the Beamer Trail, 94 miles (Tonto Trail is 72 miles total)
Hiking Time:  multiple days (unless used as a connector only for the Grandview Trail to the South Kaibab Trail, or the South Kaibab Trail to the Bright Angel Trail)
Difficulty:  moderate (strenuous to hike in and out)
Description:  Located at the 3,000 foot level of the Canyon, the Tonto Trail is located on the Tonto platform, a stone formation that runs through the Grand Canyon.  To many possible destinations to list, we could create a web site around the Tonto Trail alone!  Specific information should be obtained from the National Park Service.  You should also obtain the Trails Illustrated Grand Canyon National Park Topographical Map, number 207.

Before hiking you should check with park rangers for specific conditions or call 520-638-7888 and press 1-3-1.

River Trail

Trailhead Location & Access:  Can be accessed from the South Kaibab Trail to the east at the Canyon's bottom along the Colorado River, or at the Bright Angel Trail to the west at the Canyon's bottom along the Colorado River 
Length: 1.7 miles
Hiking Time:  30 minutes to 1 hour
Difficulty:  easy
Description:  Follows the Colorado River between the South Kaibab Trail and the Bright Angel Trail.  Allows access to either suspension bridge that crosses the Canyon to the Phantom Ranch, Bright Angel Campground, and North Kaibab Trail.  Although the trail is easy, it will require a strenuous hike to the bottom of the Canyon to reach.  This hike can be life threatening if attempted during the heat of the day in full gear, as Canyon temperatures can climb to 120 degrees.  You should also obtain the Trails Illustrated Grand Canyon National Park Topographical Map, number 207.

Before hiking you should check with park rangers for specific conditions or call 520-638-7888 and press 1-3-1.