Grandview Trail To Horseshoe Mesa Hike
|In This Guide|
|Distance||6 miles (9.7 km)|
|Hike Time||4-5 Hours (Total)|
|Total Ascent (?)||2,760 feet (841m)|
|Highest Elevation||7,400 feet (2256m)|
|Fees & Permits||National Park Entry Fee|
|Park Website (?)||Grand Canyon National Park|
|Stay In Touch||Newsletter - Instagram - YouTube - Facebook|
Easily the toughest and most rugged of the Grand Canyon Park Service’s recommended day hikes, the Grandview Trail to Horseshoe Mesa is not for the faint of heart. The trail was built in 1893 by miners, and after a few minutes on the Grandview, you’ll realize that people were a lot tougher back then. The route is an engineering marvel, with steep cobbled sections and wood cribs hugging the cliffside that lead down to an abandoned mine site at Horseshoe Mesa. This day hike offers expansive views, natural beauty, and a break from the Grand Canyon crowds.
Don’t forget to check out my Grand Canyon hiking tips here!
How to Get to the Grandview Trail
The Grandview Trail is located at Grandview Point, about a 15 minute drive east from the Grand Canyon Visitor Center (South Rim). The trailhead at Grandview Point is at the scenic overlook; expect lots of tourists. But it’s far enough away from the main South Rim attractions that there’s almost always parking at the trailhead area.
Use this trailhead address:
Grandview Point, Grand Canyon Village, AZ 86023
There is no water at the trailhead or on the Grandview Trail, so fill up before you get here.
Gear for the Hike
Even though it’s only 6 miles, this is a tough hike and I recommend having backcountry hiking gear. In the warmer months I bring 2-3L of water. There is no water source along the trail and the springs that are close to the Grandview Trail are not reliable and/or contain arsenic. Trekking poles will help on the steep sections of the Grandview, of which there are many. And because this is a more remote trail, I bring enough gear in case of an emergency.
As the Parks Service says in their literature, “Know how to rescue yourself. YOU are responsible for your safety and the safety
of your family and friends. Rescue is not guaranteed, and assistance may take hours or days due to weather or other emergencies.”
In the winter or colder months this trail is not a good option unless you’ve had experience on it already. Ice can make the already steep and slick sections treacherous. I hiked the Grandview Trail in May once, when the temperatures were high, and there was still ice on some of the shady sections. And even with micro-spikes, it was dangerous, so I turned around. Summer and Fall are great times to do this hike.
I try a lot of hiking boots and shoes, and there are some great options out there, but the La Sportiva Spire is the best combination of comfort, protection, low-weight, and durability. They are waterproof, and the high cuff keeps debris out without the need for a gaiter. Time tested over thousands of miles. Use them with a two-layer sock system to end blisters for good.
Reviews & Lowest Prices: Women – Men
On a medium or longer hike I recommend a pack like the Osprey Talon 33 (men) or Osprey Sirrus 36 (women) which is a little bit larger. These packs are on the upper end of the (35L) daypack range, but they only weigh a small fraction more than a pack with less capacity. Having the extra space gives you more flexibility and means you don’t have to jam things in there. I use the space for things like extra layers in the winter, extra water on desert hikes, and even a tent & sleeping bag on overnights.
If you’re not familiar with the Garmin InReach technology, it allows you to send and receive text messages where you don’t have cell phone signals. You can also get weather reports and trigger an SOS to emergency responders. Even if you don’t have an emergency, sending a quick message telling a loved one that you’re okay or are running late is well worth the cost. The Mini fits in your palm and weighs next to nothing. Read my review and see the lowest prices and reviews at REI.
Here’s my complete gear list that I personally use, have tested, and recommend, updated January 2020.See All of My Best Gear Picks Here
No company pays me to promote or push a product, all the gear you see here is gear I use and recommend. If you click an a link and buy gear, I get a small commission that helps offset website expenses. There is no cost to you.
Grandview Trail Condition
Before we dive into the maps, let’s talk about the condition of the trail. The trail was built by miners in the early 1890s and is an engineering marvel that cost $12,000 (about $350,000 in today’s dollars). While most native trails follow natural fault lines or natural features to the bottom of the Canyon, the Grandview Trail was built to get miners up and down as quickly as possible. They built a cobblestone ramps on the steep sections from Grandview Point. On sections where no path was possible, they created “cribbing” out of logs and added a path to the side of the cliff.
I already mentioned that you shouldn’t try this in winter or cooler months unless you have previous experience here, but even in good conditions this trail can be challenging. At some points the Grandview is about 18 inches wide and some points have drops of 100 feet or more down the side. Unlike the main corridor trails (Bright Angel, South & North Kaibab), the Grandview Trail is not actively maintained or built to any standards. However, it is looked after by the Parks Service and when sections get damaged or washed out, they fix them.
This hike is listed as a recommended day hike in the official Grand Canyon National Park publications, but it still has its hazards. People have fallen and died here, although more people die taking selfies from the rim. I mention it because you need to be focused and vigilant when on the trail, watch your footing, and take care if passing other hikers.
Because the trail is so steep in tricky, plan on going down at the same rate as you climb back out.
Camping at Horseshoe Mesa
You can overnight at Horseshoe Mesa; there are 3 regular campsites, 1 large group campsite, and primitive toilets. You need a backcountry permit to overnight here. If you want water, it’s a steep descent (and climb back) to the only reliable water sources at Hance Creek and Page Spring (aka Miners Spring). Page Spring has high arsenic levels, so have fun with that. Both sources should be treated with a water filter.
Other nearby camping options include Cottonwood Creek Campground (not to be confused with Cottonwood Campground on the North Kaibab Trail) and a dispersed area beside Hance Creek just below the Tonto Trail.
If you camp, you need rodent protection. Ravens will also make quick work of unattended packs and can open zippers with their beaks.
Grandview Trail Maps
Grandview Trail To Horseshoe Mesa Hike Map Downloads
Download the Hike GPX File
View a Printable PDF Hike Map
|Steep Section End||1.3||5670|
|Page Spring Junction||2.6||4970|
A Quick Grandview Trail History
- The trail was built when miner Pete Berry and the Cameron brothers (of Bright Angel Trail notoriety) discovered copper at Horseshoe Mesa. Berry helped build this trail and the Bright Angel Trail, but later split from the Camerons to focus on Grandview.
- The mine at Horseshoe Mesa was called the Last Chance Mine, and was one of the only profitable mines in the Canyon. It’s copper ore won the 1893 World’s Fair’s top prize for purity. The mine operated from 1893-1907. You can still see relics from the mine (like the old cookhouse) and there are still mines and old equipment in the area. You are not allowed to enter any of the (very dangerous) mines without a permit, and you have to leave any miner gear where you find it.
- At the height of the mining days, 10 mules did one and a half trips a day, hauling 200 pounds of ore out on the way up.
- In 1897 when Berry realized that tourism was the way to go, he built the Grandview Hotel at was is now Grandview Point. The hotel was billed as the “only first-class hotel at the Grand Canyon” and had a regular stagecoach service from Flagstaff. But when the railroad was built to the Bright Angel Trail, visitors by stagecoach stopped and the hotel closed in 1913. It was torn down in 1929.
How to Hike the Grandview Trail to Horseshoe Mesa
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Turn by Turn Directions
There are use trails up to the mesa and some overlook areas if you have the energy. You can also explore Cave of the Domes on the left side of the mesa and down a small trial market by cairns. It’s the only officially “open” cave in Grand Canyon without a permit. Otherwise from here you turn around and head back up the way you came.
Did something change on this hike? If so, please contact me and let me know. I'll update the guide.