Do It Take this steep path to a rare, 11.9-mile inner-canyon loop hike, sublime views from Horseshoe Mesa, and a peek into the Canyon’s mining past. Hike September to June to avoid the searing heat; in winter, pack lightweight crampons—ice can make the upper trail treacherous. From Grandview Point (1), pack a gallon of water per person and descend gravel switchbacks on the Grandview Trail. At mile 1.1, rest your knees at Coconino Saddle (2), a shady overlook above an east-facing gully. Continue down past daisies and vibrant-red desert paintbrushes (May), then emerge onto wide-open Horseshoe Mesa, which reaches two long arms west and north (3). Here, you’ll encounter Pete Berry’s Last Chance Mine, a shady nook with copper-mining-era pickaxes rusting in place. Head east past the ruined cookhouse (4) at mile 2.8, and take the East Horseshoe Mesa Trail toward Hance Creek. Descend steeply off the mesa with views of the Canyon’s clay-red slopes dotted with juniper and sagebrush.
At mile 3.5, fill reservoirs at Miner’s Spring (5), a perennial oasis with a small pool and fresh drip, and camp near Hance Creek. Next morning, take the Tonto Trail (6) heading northwest to begin a relatively level, 4.7-mile loop around Horseshoe Mesa. At mile 7.3, reach the junction with a use trail (7) looking south into the mesa’s thousand-foot-high walls layered in heather, russet, and slate blue. From here, take your pick: Continue northwest on the Tonto Trail to Cottonwood Creek and camp near the spring at mile 9.4, or head south to ascend the easy route up Horseshoe Mesa and camp in a designated site (8). The latter option shaves 1,200 feet off the next day’s climbing and clears the way for a 1.5-mile (one-way) hike over razor-edge cliffs to catch the sunset on Horseshoe Mesa’s westernmost tip. The 300-degree view of sunset-streaked Zoroaster Temple will redefine your sense of grandeur. Next morning, link up with the Grandview Trail and begin the long, 2,600-foot ascent up to Grandview Point.
The Way From the South Rim entrance, drive 12 miles east along Desert View Dr. to Grandview Point.
Permit $10 plus $5/person per night. Reserve four months ahead. Download permit request form (nps
.gov/grca/planyourvisit/upload/permit-request.pdf) and fax to (928) 638-2125.
Gear up Canyon Village Marketplace, South Rim. (928) 638-2262
Maps USGS quads Cape Royal and Grandview Point ($8, store.usgs.gov)
Trip data backpacker.com/hikes/823945
Navigate easily with GPS Trails for your smartphone. backpacker.com/iphone or /android