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Grand Canyon Hiking Guides
Grand Canyon Guided Treks
Grand Canyon Backpacking
Grand Canyon National Park Hiking Tour
Grand Canyon Guided Backpacking
Grand Canyon Backpacking Tour
Grand Canyon Hiking Guides
Grand Canyon Hiking Vacation

Grand Canyon

Highlights

  •   Remote and breathtaking Tonto Plateau
  •   Rapids on the Colorado River
  •   360° kaleidoscope views
  •   Scenic, narrow side canyons
  •   Natural and cultural history
  •   Rejuvenating desert solitude

Description

This backpacking trip in world famous Grand Canyon National Park is an opportunity to hike with other, like-minded participants and explore one of the world's natural wonders! Grand Canyon's permit system is a lottery so we cannot guarantee an exact itinerary, and we recommend not making final travel arrangements until we have secured the permits. However, it is critical to register 4+ months in advance so we can apply for permits for this trip!

The primary itineraries we will apply for are the Hermit Loop and the Grandview Loop. The Hermit Loop is a traverse of the western side of the Park from the South Rim Village to Hermits Rest. We descend Bright Angel Trail and head west on the Tonto Trail, enjoying side hikes to rapids on the Colorado River and soaking up profoundly amazing views. The Grandview Loop on the other hand is east of the South Rim Village off Desert View Drive. We descend on the Grandview Trail and then circumvent Horseshoe Mesa on the Tonto Trail, camping at wonderful desert oases and day hiking on historic trails to the Colorado River.


Trip Dates

  •   March 2-6, 2020
  •   November 12-15, 2020

BACKPACKER Trek
Difficulty:
Solitude:
Flagstaff, AZ
4-5 days
25+mi / 40+km
4 Days: $995
5 Days: $1105

Taxes & Fees

Travel to Flagstaff


BACKPACKER Treks

About BACKPACKER Treks
BACKPACKER Logo

BACKPACKER Treks are for experienced backpackers to join fellow, like-minded BACKPACKER readers on extraordinary group adventures in the United States. Yellowstone, Utah, the Grand Canyon, Joshua Tree, Death Valley and more - these trips are in world-class backpacking destinations! These trips are 100% for readers of BACKPACKER Magazine and are not advertised to any other demographic. BACKPACKER readers are passionate about hiking, camping, wilderness and backcountry adventure - perfect company for like-minded companions!

Unique Adventures
BACKPACKER Adventures

These trips are for experienced backpackers. The guide(s) will cook dinner each night but outside of that all meals are the guest's responsibility. Gear is also the guest's responsibility. Transportation, permits, reservations...etc. are provided. Just show up with your food, gear and passion for backpacking and have a blast connecting with nature and fellow backpackers!

Trip Itinerary

The itinerary for this trip will vary depending on which permit we secure. We expect to do either a Hermit Loop or Grandview Loop. The itineraries detailed here are not guaranteed. The Hermit could be 4 days in length, or the Grandview Loop could be 5 days in length. Or we could end up with a completely different itinerary. We recommend not making your travel arrangements until we have secured the permits (4 months in advance) and are happy with the itinerary we secure.


Hermit Loop

Day 1
  • Shuttle to the South Rim: 1.5-hour drive from Flagstaff
  • Hiking Mileage: 6.9 miles (+ optional 2-mile side hike to Plateau Point)
  • Elevation Loss: 3,060 feet

This memorable Grand Canyon backpacking tour begins with a 4.9-mile downhill hike on the Bright Angel Trail to Indian Garden, a Havasupai spring site that watered seasonal garden plots for centuries. At Indian Garden we'll relax in the shade of the Cottonwood trees, dip our feet in the ice cold spring water of Garden Creek, and enjoy a peaceful picnic lunch. If time and conditions allow, we'll add a side hike to Plateau Point - one of the most stunning views in all of Grand Canyon - before continuing to our first night's camp at Horn Creek. Horn Creek is a beautiful creek-side camp with wonderful solitude, where we're guaranteed to be the only group since only one group is allowed per night.

Day 2
  • Hiking Mileage: 8.9 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 800 feet

We’ll get an early start and begin our westward trek along the Tonto Plateau to Monument Creek. This is a long hike of almost 9 miles, but most of the route is on a well-groomed, relatively flat trail. Our hike takes us around the head of two large drainages: Salt and Horn Creek, and offers an abundance of classic, expansive views of the Grand Canyon, inner gorge, and Colorado River. Our destination for the night is Monument Creek, a cozy camp nestled beneath towering Redwall Limestone cliffs next to a trickling, spring-fed creek.

Day 3
  • Day Hike Hiking Mileage: 3 miles
  • Day Hike Elevation Gain/Loss: 1,000 feet

This is a layover day (if a 5 day trip) to sleep in, relax, read, bathe, hike and explore, or do nothing at all. For the willing, we’ll hike down Monument Creek to the Colorado River and Granite Rapids. This is a great day hike, and we often see bighorn sheep as a small population inhabits the area. At our leisure, we’ll eventually hike back to camp to enjoy a quiet evening.

Day 4
  • Hiking Mileage: 3.5 miles (plus an optional 3-mile day hike)
  • Elevation Gain/Loss: 1,200 feet (includes day hiking)

We’ll get up reasonably early, eat and pack up. We'll hike west to our camp on Hermit Creek. We’ll set up camp and have lunch, then hike approximately 1.5 miles one-way to Hermit Rapids, where we’ll take a few hours to explore this breathtaking section of the Colorado River. If we're lucky we'll get to watch a rafting party brave these impressive rapids! We'll return to camp and enjoy a tasty dinner beneath one of the clearest night skies you've ever seen before turning in for the night.

Day 5
  • Hiking Mileage: 8 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 3400 feet
  • Shuttle to Flagstaff: 1.5 hours

The first mile of hiking takes us to the junction of the Tonto Trail and the Hermit Trail. At the junction we begin our ascent out of the Grand Canyon on the Hermit Trail. We'll switchback throught the immense Redwall, then contour a series of shelves high above Hermit Creek. This section of hiking features increasingly stunning views of the Grand Canyon behind us. The last bit of hiking is on beautifully constructed, hand-fitted rock slabs - a true work of masonry art - and takes us past 250+ million year old footprint fossils that are some of the best in the Canyon. Once we reach the South Rim, we'll shuttle back to the South Rim Village where our shuttle awaits us.




Grandview Loop

Day 1
  • Shuttle to the South Rim: 1.5-hour drive from Flagstaff
  • Hiking Mileage: 5 miles
  • Elevation Loss: 3,500 feet

We’ll begin this exceptional Grand Canyon backpacking tour by hiking down the Grandview Trail, a historic Indian route rebuilt by Pete Berry for his Last Chance copper mine. Pete Berry and partners staked the Last Chance claim in 1890 and worked the mine on and off until 1916. We'll hike to Horseshoe Mesa then drop off the west side to Cottonwood Creek, which is a remote camp nestled beneath a small grove of cottonwood trees. Cottonwood Creek is a spring-fed creek that trickles between pools near camp. Your guide will prepare a hearty dinner while you relax and soak up the views!

Day 2
  • Hiking Mileage: 6 miles
  • Elevation Loss/Gain: 1,500+ feet

Today is a layover day at Cottonwood Creek to descend the Old Grandview Trail, which is a spectacular 6 mile round trip hike to the Colorado River and back (1500 feet elevation loss/gain). This ancient trail, which was built in the 1800's by a miner and hasn't been maintained for more than 50 years, is unknown to all but a few who call the Grand Canyon their second home (rangers and guides mainly). It's rarely hiked and is a truly memorable experience in and of itself.

Please note: since this trail is not maintained its condition can vary and there are always some loose, exposed sections that may not be suitable for some guests. We do not guarantee reaching the Colorado River on this trip, but we do guarantee a tremendously scenic and adventurous journey into the Grand Canyon!

Day 3
  • Hiking Mileage: 5 miles + day hike
  • Elevation Change: minimal

If you're doing the 3-day itinerary, you'll be departing today and hiking back out the Grandview Trail, which is the opposite of Day One. Day three, on the four and five day itineraries, is our hike across the Tonto Plateau, which is often compared to a kaleidoscope of mesmerizing 360 degree views that shift constantly as we make our way toward our next camp. Plan on having the Grand Canyon all to yourself today, as we're unlikely to meet more than one or two other hiking groups. This is Canyon Solitude at its finest! We'll be hiking east from Cottonwood Creek to camp at Hance Creek, which is another remote and quiet camp with a spring-fed creek trickling nearby. After dinner we'll stay up and enjoy the stars, which are unparalleled in this special, wild place!

Day 4
  • Hiking Mileage: 5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 3,500 feet
  • Shuttle to the Flagstaff: 1.5-hour drive to Flagstaff

On the 4-day itinerary we'll be hiking out today. Please read below for information on the 5-day itinerary, which allow for an extra night on Horseshoe Mesa. If we're hiking out, we'll get an early start, enjoy a quick breakfast and begin our hike back to the South Rim. Our route takes us up a rugged trail to Horseshoe Mesa, where we'll stop in the shade of Junipers, have a trail snack and soak up some more views. Then we'll continue up the Grandview Trail back to where we started. An hour shuttle ride to Flagstaff gives us time to relax and reflect on the incredible journey we've just completed!

Trip Details

What's Included

  • A professional, knowledgeable, certified trip leader (full-time Wildland Trekking guide)
  • Roundtrip transportation from your hotel in Flagstaff, Arizona to the trailhead and back
  • Backcountry dinners in the field
  • Bear cannisters when/where required
  • Entrance fees and national park permits
  • Emergency equipment including a company-issued first-aid kit and satellite phone
  • You will receive a Lifetime Hiking Membership entitling you, your spouse and kids to a lifetime discount of 10% off any Wildland Trekking hiking trip after your first one!


What's Not Included

  • Backpack, tent, sleeping pad, sleeping bag, trekking poles, cooking gear (gear list below)
  • Breakfasts, lunches and trail snacks
  • Clothes, raingear, and footwear (Oboz hiking shoes and boots recommended) (clothing list below)
  • Sunscreen, toiletries and personal items
  • Trip leader gratuity (industry recommendation is 10+% of trip cost)


Optional Gear List

  • Trekking poles
  • Backpacking stove and fuel (if your breakfasts only need boiled water, guide can boil water for the group in the morning at camp eliminating need for personal stoves and fuel)
  • Waterproof matches and/or lighter
  • Water filter (guide can filter water for the group at camp but if you would prefer to bring your own)
  • Camera, spare batteries
  • Notebook or paperback book
  • Vitamins
  • Fly fishing gear, if you want to fish (area-specific)


Important Packing Note

Please leave a shoe-box's worth of room in your pack for accommodating approximately 5 pounds of group gear that the guide will disperse to the group on the night of the trip orientation. Group gear will include food items for the group dinners as well as group dinner cookware, stoves, water filtration, etc.


Group Dinners

Your guide will plan and prepare all of the dinners for the duration of the trip for the group. Our prepared backcountry dinners include a diversity of tasty meals packed full of critical carbohydrates, proteins and fats. We carry foods that travel well in the backcountry – rice, pastas, lentils, beans, couscous, packaged meats, etc.

We regularly accommodate vegan, vegetarian, kosher and non-gluten diets and will make adjustments for food allergies. These and other special dietary requests may require an additional fee.


Gear List

  • Multi-day backpack (recommended 4000-5000 cubic inches)
  • Backpacking tent
  • 15 degree sleeping bag (down or synthetic)
  • Sleeping pad
  • Trekking poles (optional)
  • 3 1-liter water bottles or hydration system and a water bottle
  • Headlamp or flashlight and extra batteries
  • Bowl, plate, mug, fork, spoon, folding pocket knife and personal cookware needed for your breakfasts and lunches
  • Folding pocket knife
  • Waterproof matches and/or lighter
  • Backpacking stove and fuel
  • Camp pillow, lightweight, packable camp pillow.
  • Contact lenses and glasses if you wear contact lenses please also bring a pair of glasses - your contacts are likely to become dirty and may be difficult to clean
  • Sunglasses, sunscreen, lip balm
  • Toiletries, and a small washcloth in stuff sack (bandana can serve as a washcloth)
  • Camera, spare batteries (optional)
  • Notebook or paperback book, (optional)
  • Knee braces, if needed
  • Prescription medicine, please inform your trip leader of any medications you are taking
  • Vitamins, (optional)
  • Money, for tipping your trip leader (optional but appreciated, generally 10+% of your trip cost based upon the quality of your experience)



Clothing List

  • Sturdy Hiking boots, mid weight, lug-soled, above the ankle, waterproof and ideally well broken in Important note: Buy your boots 1/2 size to 1 size larger than your street shoes to allow for feet swelling and thicker socks
  • Lightweight tennis shoes or Crocs®, for camp
  • Hiking socks, one pair for every two days of your trip, plus an extra pair to sleep in. Recommended brands include Bridgedale®, Smartwool®, or similar padded socks (wearing thin liner socks under your hiking socks is highly recommended). No cotton socks!!
  • Gaiters
  • Sunhat or baseball cap and bandana
  • Warm hat and gloves, sherpa style hat and light-to-mid weight fleece or wool gloves
  • Long underwear, one pair of wicking tops and bottoms that are light-to midweight, example materials include capilene, merino wool, polypropylene, etc.
  • T-shirt or nylon travel shirt
  • Warm top, mid-weight shirt, sweater or pullover, also wicking material such as merino wool, fleece or polypropylene
  • Fleece jacket or insulated coat, warm, lightweight and packable fleece jacket or coat insulated with a synthetic material
  • Nylon pants and shorts, or zip-offs
  • Rainproof jacket and pant - Waterproof/breathable jacket and pant such as Gore-Tex® or coated nylon - with the pants look for side leg zippers or a style that will allow you to remove them without removing your

Trip Logistics

How do I Register?

Ready to hike? In the Dates section of this trip page, the green dates are bookable online by simply clicking on the date, and blue dates must be booked through our customer service team for a variety of possible reasons. To email our customer service team, you can click here to get the ball rolling. Our adventure consultants will confirm availability, and if you're ready to register we'll email you a link to a registration profile. You'll have 72 hours to complete your profile (and that of any dependents) and pay the deposit ($500).

Feel free to call us for more info - we're here 7 days a week!


Where Do We Meet?

You'll meet your hiking guide and group in Flagstaff, Arizona for an orientation meeting at 5:00 PM the evening before the trip begins. Your guide will be in contact approximately 2 weeks before your trip and will specify the exact location of the orientation meeting at that point. The next morning we'll pick you up at your hotel for transport to the trailhead.

Check out our Travel Resources page for information on flights, shuttles, lodging and more.


Start/End Times

Your guide will inform you of the first day's pick-up time at the orientation meeting. Generally, you can expect it to be between 5 and 8 am, although the exact time will depend on current weather and road conditions. We will drop you off at your hotel on the final day no later than 7 PM.


Safety Considerations

Your safety is our top priority. Our hiking tours are led by professional hiking guides, all of whom are wilderness-certified first responders or EMT's, each with years of guiding and wilderness experience. We've developed comprehensive risk management protocols that our guides adhere to in case of an emergency, and most tours carry a satellite phone. If you have any further questions about safety, please contact us at 1-800-715-HIKE (4453) for more information.


Guides

Your tour will be led by a trained, experienced professional with a solid guiding background, years of personal wilderness and hiking experience, medical certifications, and a passion for leading people into breathtaking landscapes. Check out our Meet Our Team page for staff bios.


Guide Working Parameters

Guides are required to take 8 hours off each 24-hour period to sleep, recuperate, take personal/down time...etc. In addition, as part of the 8 hours off they must sleep/rest or be in their tents/rooms uninterrupted for a minimum of 5 hours each night. We ask guests to respect these requirements and to not interrupt guides' off time and sleep time unless there is a true emergency.


Group Size and Age Restrictions

The standard group size on BACKPACKER trips is 9 guests and 2 guides. If you have more questions about group size, please give us a call at 1-800-715-HIKE (4453) and we'll answer all your questions.

Age restrictions are as follows:
  • 14 and older to join this trip


Weather in the Grand Canyon

The weather in the Grand Canyon varies tremendously from the rim to the canyon floor, with as much as a 30 degree Fahrenheit difference. For this reason, the Canyon is truly a year-round hiking destination. To be fully prepared, please follow the recommended clothing list closely (this list comes as part of your trip packet when you register). Read below for average high and low temperatures at the South Rim and the Canyon bottom:

Average Temperatures (Fahrenheit)
     
 
Month
South Rim
Canyon Bottom
 
 
hi
low
hi
low
 
 
Dec-Feb
41°
18°
60°
38°
 
 
March
51°
25°
71°
48°
 
 
April
60°
32°
82°
56°
 
 
May
70°
39°
92°
63°
 
 
Jun-Aug
82°
53°
108°
75°
 
 
September
76°
47°
97°
69°
 
 
October
65°
36°
84°
58°
 
 
November
52°
27°
68°
46°
 

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