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Backpacker Magazine – October 2010

Rip & Go: Grandview Loop - Grand Canyon, South Rim

Descend to the Ditch's primitive core on a three-day loop.

by: Carrie Madren

View of Zoroaster Temple from Horseshoe Mesa (Ed Callaert)
View of Zoroaster Temple from Horseshoe Mesa (Ed Callaert)
Cave of the Domes (Michael Quinn/NPS Photo)
Cave of the Domes (Michael Quinn/NPS Photo)

trip iconTAKE IT WITH YOU
Download a printable version of this entire trip right here.

Key Skill
Heat-aware hiking


The killer combination of dry heat, relentless sun, infrequent water sources, and steep terrain makes dehydration and heat-related illness all too common in the Grand. Here’s how to stay safe:

Water You’ll need to carry a gallon of water per person per day. MSR Dromedary bags come in four sizes, the nylon outer resists punctures, and the cap screws on tight to prevent accidental leakage—even under pressure. A hard rubber collar around the opening makes it easy to hold while filling. Attach the Hydration Kit ($20) hose to the reservoir to keep water at hand and encourage constant sipping. $35; 6.9 oz. (for the four-liter); msrcorp.com

Back up Pack two hard-sided one-liter bottles and store them inside your pack to keep water cooler.

Timing
Start early (6 a.m.) and rest frequently. Avoid hiking between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., the hottest part of the day.

Danger Feeling flushed? The early stages of heat-related illness include cramps, fatigue, and muscle pain. Apply cool water to the neck, armpits, and inner thighs (where the carotid, brachial, and femoral arteries approach the skin’s surface), and fan to facilitate evaporative cooling.

See This
Cave of the Domes

An estimated 1,000 caves pock the Grand Canyon’s Redwall, but only one is open to recreational use. Spend a cool afternoon in Cave of the Domes, accessed via the precipitous Trail-of-the-Caves Trail, near the ruined cookhouse at mile 2.8. Crawl inside, and explore the cave’s many rooms, rough walls, stone pillars, and 10-plus-foot-high, domed ceilings with inscriptions dating back more than 100 years. If you plan to explore the cave, carry a headlamp, backup flashlight, and extra batteries. Some spelunkers unspool rope to avoid becoming lost. inside.

Locals Know
Pete Berry’s Last Chance copper mine thrived at the turn of the 20th century. In 1893, Berry constructed the Grandview Trail—loosely following an old Native American route—to get supplies in and ore out, with heavily laden mules traveling the steep path daily. Hikers still use the cobblestone paths and original log “cribs” that support the steep cliffside switchbacks, all of which Berry and his workers built by hand. When mining became unprofitable, Berry built the two-story Grandview Hotel, and mules carried visitors instead of ore. Around the mine ruins, find chips of blue ore that Native Americans used to make dye.




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Reader Rating: -

READERS COMMENTS

Star Star Star Star Star
Giampiero
Apr 04, 2014

I recently hiked Grandview to Horseshoe Mesa as an express up and back since my wife and baby were waiting for me at the top. I highly recommend it. I have a trip report with photos here: http://giampiero.com/grand-canyon/

Andy W.
Jun 18, 2011

Just hiked to the horseshoe, spent the night and hiked out the next morning. Awesome spot, few other hikers and no campers. Plus the cave of the domes is really cool. Take more water than you think, the extra weight won't bother you when you need it!

Max Teto
Nov 11, 2010

To echo some of Gary's comments (which I totally agree with), the first time canyon hiker needs to realize that many of the trail junctions in Grand Canyon are not adequately signed. Most notable is the junction of the Tonto trail and the "easy route" back up to Horseshoe Mesa and the west arm. There is a good chance that a hiker will walk right past this junction which is somewhat distinguished by an old iron rod in the ground, left over from the mining days. Basic orientation and terrain recognition skills will help if one wishes to avoid hiking all the way around to Cottonwood Creek and then having to climb the longer route back to the mesa.

And I also agree on his assesment of water needs and availability. Other than Miner (Page) spring, Cottonwood Creek can often be counted on in temperate times or after rain periods. It was flowing nicely a week ago, but the summertime hiker might not be so fortunate. And if a hiker gets around to the creek and finds it dry, there is no other recourse but to return over the long dry route to Miner spring. There is no water available for the climb back to the rim after leaving Miner spring or Cottonwood Creek!

Max Teto
Nov 11, 2010

To echo some of Gary's comments (which I totally agree with), the first time canyon hiker needs to realize that many of the trail junctions in Grand Canyon are not adequately signed. Most notable is the junction of the Tonto trail and the "easy route" back up to Horseshoe Mesa and the west arm. There is a good chance that a hiker will walk right past this junction which is somewhat distinguished by an old iron rod in the ground, left over from the mining days. Basic orientation and terrain recognition skills will help if one wishes to avoid hiking all the way around to Cottonwood Creek and then having to climb the longer route back to the mesa.

And I also agree on his assesment of water needs and availability. Other than Miner (Page) spring, Cottonwood Creek can often be counted on in temperate times or after rain periods. It was flowing nicely a week ago, but the summertime hiker might not be so fortunate. And if a hiker gets around to the creek and finds it dry, there is no other recourse but to return over the long dry route to Miner spring. There is no water available for the climb back to the rim after leaving Miner spring or Cottonwood Creek!

Gary Barnes
Nov 11, 2010

There are some dangerous errors included in this trip report down the Grandview Trail at Grand Canyon that can get you into plenty of trouble.

(1)The photo leading off the article taken from the Western Arm of Horsehoe Mesa is incorrectly labeled. This is a photo of Vishnu Temple, not Zoroaster. Big problem if one attempts to map orient to Zoroaster (well to the West) and not Vishnu.

(2)One gallon per person is not enough for the Grandview, even in cool weather. The low humidity, steep slope, altitude, and heat will leave you dehydrated and in big trouble. If you head down to Miner's Spring (also called Page Spring but not called out as such in the article)you will need to purify your water---the spring is the waterhole for wildlife and needs to be treated/filtered. Not called out in the article. The article sends you packing with but one gallon per person---you will need to pack out more to do the loop around the Mesa and then climb back out. Cottonwood Creek can go 'dry' and you have to hunt water pools upstream if you expect to resupply. Not called out in the article. If you only have one gallon, you will be hard pressed to fill up at Miner's Spring, do the loop hike around the Mesa, climb back up to Horseshoe Mesa, then continue up to the Rim.

3)You do not pass the cookhouse to get to the East Horseshoe Mesa Trail---you turn after going past the mine opening. If you go down to the cook house you have missed the turn off and will have to double back to the south to connect with the East Horseshoe Mesa Trail. The GPS points look OK but the trail description is in error. If you head east at the cookhouse, you will go past the designated campsites and toilet and then stumble around looking for the trail down. If you go west at the cookhouse you will drop off Horseshoe Mesa and may or may not find water in Cottonwood Creek. The 'cookhouse' is a remant structure from Pete Berry's mining operation over a 100 years old. Now the 'cookhouse' is nothing more than a rubble pile and should be described as such---hikers may go looking for a functional structure and/or anticipate a source of food/water at the 'cookhouse.'

The East Horsehoe Mesa trail is not maintained and one of the more unstable trail surfaces in the Canyon. Hiking poles are a must and the trail is steep and littered with rock debris.

Check with the NPS Backcountry office before primitive camping near Hance Creek. Recent efforts are being made to prevent human waste accumulation. You may be required to pack out your fecal wastes and not bury.

Doing the loop off Grandview can be dangerous--hikers have missed the return trail and instead headed out across the Tonto---and run out of water. Last summer (2009), a day hiker died after he went down to Horseshoe Mesa and dropped down and headed across the Tonto Plateau. Do NOT continue to the West on the Tonto given the current hiking description in the article---you may face a long dry march before you hit the junction with the South Kaibab Trail and other hiker traffic.

Reader Rating for the Trail Description: Big minus 10 out of 10.



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