Tower of Set from Tonto Trail, between Horn Creek and Salt Creek
|Length||70 mi (113 km)|
|Location||Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, United States|
|Trail difficulty||Moderate to Strenuous|
The Tonto Trail does not terminate at either rim of the Grand Canyon, but begins along the south bank of the Colorado River at Garnet Canyon (western end) and ends at Red Canyon (eastern end), also at the Colorado River. Through most of its 70 mile length, the trail runs along the Tonto Platform, the bench in the Grand Canyon that separates the inner gorge from the upper canyon.
Tonto crosses the South Bass Trail, Boucher Trail, Hermit Trail, Bright Angel Trail, South Kaibab Trail and the New Hance Trail. The Grandview Trail is also accessible via its eastern and western spurs. All of the connecting trails provide access to and from the Grand Canyon south rim, while the Bright Angel Trail and South Kaibab Trail both provide access to the Colorado River, and the north rim via the North Kaibab Trail.
At Garnet Canyon, the Tonto Trail officially ends, but a trail continues along the Colorado River to Elves Chasm. There is also a junction with the Royal Arch Route, which requires a rappel from to access the river trail. At Red Canyon, the eastern end of the Tonto Trail, the Escalante Route continues eastward, connecting to the Tanner Trail and Beamer Trail at Unkar Creek.
There is additional access to the Colorado River in Monument Canyon via a 1½ mile spur trail that leads to Granite Rapids. There is a designated campsite at the river. There is also access to the river via all trails that cross the Tonto, except the Grandview Trail.
Trail conditions vary based on the amount of traffic certain sections receive. The section between the Bright Angel Trail and the South Kaibab Trail (4.6 miles, 7.4 kilometres) is the most heavily travelled and the easiest to follow. Less travelled sections are subject to overgrowth by canyon flora early in the spring season, and may require route finding skills to traverse.
All water sources along this trail must be treated, filtered, or boiled before drinking, with the exception of water available at the junction with the Bright Angel Trail (at Indian Garden).
Hermit Creek, Monument Creek, and Garden Creek flow year round and can be consumed after purification. Water from Horn Creek should be avoided except in extreme life-and-death circumstances due to high radioactive contamination from the Lost Orphan Uranium Mine (defunct) below Powell Point.
The park's Backcountry Information Center has current water conditions for all water sources along the Tonto Trail.
Camping is allowed along the Tonto Trail by permit only, issued by the Grand Canyon National Park Backcountry Information Center. Use of these areas overnight are regulated by the National Park Service, and they call for a maximum number of groups (7 to 11 people) and parties (1 to 6 people), as well as a maximum total number of persons. The Tonto Trail passes through numerous backcountry use areas. The three letter code indicates the park's use area designation (listed from east to west):
Use permits are available on a first-come, first-serve basis from the park's Backcountry Information Center. Requests are taken beginning on the 1st day of the month, up to four month's before the requested first night of camping.
Hazards hikers can encounter along the Tonto Trail include dehydration, sudden rainstorms, flash flooding, loose footing, rockfall, encounters with wildlife, and extreme heat. At the Colorado River, additional hazards include hypothermia (due to the river's consistently cold temperatures), trauma (due to collisions with boulders in rapids), and drowning.
Hikers who venture east of the South Kaibab Trail or west of the Hermit Trail are more likely to find solitude and isolation in addition to other hazards related to desert hiking.
- Grand Canyon Explorer / Tonto Trail Description
- Grand Canyon National Park Use Areas
- ISBN 0-925873-07-1 - Trails Illustrated Map of Grand Canyon National Park, by National Geographic
- Grand Canyon National Park Backcountry Use Permit Procedure
- Grand Canyon