No permit, no problem! Walk-up permits are usually available for the less popular trails and campsite options. Being flexible is key. My requests were semi-solitude, views, reasonable water access and some good hiking miles over a 3.5 day period. The ranger helped me put together a trip starting and ending at the Grandview Trailhead. I might have been a little surprised to see this on my permit: NOTE: Aggressive Itinerary! Leader advised of associated risks. Was it because of this profile perhaps?
At 3pm I donned my microspikes and happily headed down the Grandview Trail. Although this is a well constructed switchback trail, the snow, ice, steep grade and rocky trail made for slow travel. My route included a circumnavigation of Horseshoe Mesa which is dead center in this photo.
Grandview trail was originally built for travel to the Last Chance Mine. The sign for Miners/Page Springs is overshadowed by the one warning of radiation. With my time limitations, I didn’t have time to explore Horseshoe Mesa.
The remains of an old cabin marks the end of the Grandview trail and the junction for HorseShoe Mesa, Cottonwood Creek and Tonto East trails. I met one solo and a team of two hikers between this junction and the creek, otherwise except for the first 1/4 to 1/2 mile of trail I didn’t see anyone else this entire trip.
With cactus come Arizona Trail memories of the stickery prickeries.
Are you contaminated? The map says Miners/Page Spring is the best water for those visiting Horseshoe Mesa. My permit says “while samples may exceed municipal water standards for arsenic, the dehydration threats from not drinking can be much more immediate and life threatening.” I drank it and lived to tell the story.
Date(s) Hiked: 3/1-4/16
Road Trip Day(s) #11-14
- If you like to plan on the fly like I do, then be prepared to be flexible in areas such as the Grand Canyon which have a quota permit system. I’ve rarely been disappointed in my options and experiences. Most have walk-up permits. Ask about permission to camp outside your permitted zone.
- The Grand Canyon is known for the wide fluctuation of temperature between the rim and the river. During this early March trip, it was quite chilly with snow on the rim and uncomfortably warm in the canyon. I was glad I packed my puffy, microspikes (although they can be treacherous on the rocky sections of trail), and umbrella. My overnight temps were 40-50F. I also experienced intermittent windy conditions.
- My notes indicate the trail was steep (not nice to those with cranky knees) with technical footing in sections. There are several sections rated D and one rated DD.
- The trail was easy to navigate with signage at all junctions.
- In peak season, the Grandview Trail can be quite busy with Horseshoe Mesa a destination camping location. I found some issues with LNT (and yes I carried this fuel canister and sardine cans out).
- According to my app this was about a 26-mile, 10,000′ elevation/gain loss trip. The green line represents my route. If you have more time, there are plenty of options especially if you can plan for a shuttle or hitch.
- My friend Sirena spends significant time in the Grand Canyon and is in the process of section hiking the entire thing. Her blog, Sirena’s Wanderings, is a great resource with incredible photography.
- Grand Canyon NPS – Website
- Grand Canyon NPS – Backcountry Hiking
- Grand Canyon NPS – Backcountry Permits
- Grand Canyon Map – by Sky Terrain
- Grand Canyon Maps – South Rim – by National Geographic
- Grand Canyon Maps – North & South, East, West – by National Geographic (my next purchase)