Tonto Trail from Grandview Point to South Kaibab Trailhead

HARD 10 reviews
#63 of 98 trails in

Tonto Trail from Grandview Point to South Kaibab Trailhead is a 27.2 mile lightly trafficked point-to-point trail located near Grand Canyon, Arizona that features beautiful wild flowers and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until November.

Distance: 27.2 miles Elevation Gain: 5,216 feet Route Type: Point to Point

backpacking

camping

hiking

nature trips

bird watching

running

views

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

no dogs

A rigorous point-to-point backpack of four to five days; recommended for experienced Grand Canyon backpackers only. Long stretches of this scenic, lonely segment of the Tonto Trail are dry most of the year, so water is your most important consideration on this trail. There is no shuttle bus going to Grandview trail head. Cab ride is recommended by the Backcountry office and is approx ~$25 from South Kaibab to Grandview trailhead.

hiking
no shade
rocky
scramble
washed out
24 days ago

This is a very challenging, grand, and lonely backpack. My hiking partner and I stayed at Phantom Ranch/Bright Angel Campground before ascending the Bright Angel Trail. Until that point, we followed the route as described. Despite extensive hiking and backpacking experience in the Rockies, this trail was tougher than anything we faced in the summer. The greatest difficulty in mid-November - based on our experience - was the lack of water. Cottonwood Creek was flowing steadily but the only other visible source was a series of seep springs on the east side of Grapevine canyon. Grapevine Creek itself was dry a few hundred yards in either direction of the crossing. Lone Tree may have had water at the spring but we were in a hurry to beat the afternoon sun in the Cremation drainages, so did not descend the 1/4 mile to it from the crossing. Fortunately, we fully refilled at Cottonwood so were just out of water upon reaching Phantom. That said lugging around 5+ liters per person was a bummer. Other than that, be prepared for washed-out and rocky sections starting at the mouth of Grapevine's canyon. This includes many areas with extreme exposures, descents into washes across unmarked scree, and boot-wide "trail" on 45° slopes. The rodent situation at the "creekside" campsites absolutely requires a rat sack. After descending from Horseshoe Mesa, views down drainages and across the canyon are dominated by Zoroaster Temple for almost the whole hike. This can seem monotonous but its constant and subtle changes are beguiling. Going up drainages, towering battlements of Redwall limestone dwarf everything living and most of stone. We had it all to ourselves as we did not see a single person from Cottonwood Creek to Tip-Off on the South Kaibab Trail. If grand scenery and solitude are what you seek, this trail will satisfy and tax you. Despite the challenges, I'd do it again (though probably in spring).

backpacking
no shade
rocky
scramble
1 month ago

hiking
no shade
2 months ago

!!! CHECK WITH A BACKCOUNTRY RANGER BEFORE ATTEMPTING THIS TRAIL!! We originally had a permit to do a 4 day hike from grandview to south kaibab in October. We emailed the backcountry office ~2 weeks prior to the trip about water, and at that time they expected to have water at cottonwood, grapevine, boulder, and lone tree. when we checked at the backcountry office the morning of the hike, there was no reported water at boulder or lone tree and only small pools at cottonwood. This has been a very dry summer in the canyon. based on the 95 degree heat and no shade or water on the tonto, we opted to change our hike to an our and back from grand view to grapevine. anyone who attempts should just be prepared to pack a lot of water! our new route was a lot lower mileage, but sure water sources. We found pools of water ~0.7 miles before the cottonwood site at the trail crossing. We also found a small sulfuric stream about 4.5 miles after cottonwood toward grapevine. At grapevine, there was no water at the trail crossing, but if you ventured down the creek about 15 min there was a very good sized stream that you could get as much water as you wanted. Because we had extra time at each site, we explored the grapevine drainage area and the horseshoe mesa more than we would have and it was absolutely beautiful. We ended up hiking from grapevine out in a day, making our overall trip 3 days. This is a beautiful trail with some more technical hiking going up and down grandview than bright angel or south kaibab. Very remote, we only saw a couple others. Highly recommend and will definitely be back when water is a little more abundant!

backpacking
7 months ago

Wow. My partner and I tackled this as a three day trip, with plenty of experience between us in WA backcountry. The views stay similar throughout, but watching sunrises and sunsets from inside the canyon was inspiring. The trail was easy to find, but poorly maintained with little to no signage- it becomes difficult to track your mileage and progress. Aside from the masses at Kaibab, we saw only three groups at Cottonwood, and one other hiker on the Tonto. Definitely had our butts kicked by this trail- would definitely reccomend as a four day.

backpacking
11 months ago

Man, this trip kicked our butts!! This hike is challenging in every sense of the word: physically of course, with a quad-busting descent on day 1 and climb out on day 4; mentally, because the scenery, though awe-inspiring, does not vary over the distance; emotionally, if you are at all afraid of heights, since the eroded trail at times meanders mere feet from thousand-foot dropoffs to the Colorado River; and tactically, since both the trail and water can be hard to locate. Not a trip to be taken lightly, but achingly beautiful and austere in the sheer isolation of being on this seldom-traveled section of trail. We did this trek over 4 days, almost added a 5th day out of necessity because the terrain was much harder than we expected and it was slow going. In late December, we found water at Cottonwood, a nameless creek before Grapevine, Grapevine proper, and Lone Tree. Boulder and Cremation were dry. Call the Backcountry Information Center for recent water info, but know that their information might still be old, since this trail isn't often patrolled. The top of the Grandview Trail was icy and microspikes were a must. At night temps hovered around freezing, sometimes dipping into the high 20s. Be prepared for the weather and to carry lots of water, there is no early bailout on this route. Life on the Tonto is stripped down to its core, it will change you. If you are planning a trip here, be prepared for a thoroughly rugged and primitive trip of a lifetime.

hiking
6 months ago