Dropping Into the Grand Canyon: A four-day hike from Grandview Point to the South Kaibab Trail

In Backpacking, Family Adventures, National Park Adventures   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   9 Comments

By Michael Lanza

Hiking down the snow- and ice-covered Grandview Trail into the world’s most famous canyon, I’m thinking about time. It’s not such an odd thing to think about when you’re walking on rock that’s 270 million years old, while looking out at geologic layers that make the stone under your feet seem adolescent. But I’m thinking about a much, much shorter period of time: 11 years, actually.

That’s how much time has passed since I last backpacked into the Grand Canyon. How did I let that happen? Not for falling out of backpacking, which I’m fortunate to be able to do several times a year; nor, certainly, for the absence of desire to return here.

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9 Responses to Dropping Into the Grand Canyon: A four-day hike from Grandview Point to the South Kaibab Trail

  1. Mike Topper   |  April 23, 2016 at 7:06 pm

    I recently finished this 4 day, 3 night backpack with my wife and three children (ages 17, 13 and 13). The trip was as beautiful, spectacular, uncrowded, and fulfilling as Michael describes in his essay. We departed on April 3 and finished on April 6. We had good weather, although storms passed through the area just before and just after our trip. At Mather Campground on the South Rim the nights got down to the mid-20s, but the upper Grandview and South Kaibab were clear of any ice and no microspikes were needed. Down on the Tonto it was warm but not hot during the day, and cool but not cold at night. We camped at Cottonwood, Grapevine and Lone Tree. The relatively short days gave us plenty of time to take in the magic of the canyon. Plenty of water in Cottonwood and Grapevine, and just enough water in Lone Tree. No water near the trail at Boulder Creek or Cremation. Thanks again Michael for the inspiration.

    • MichaelALanza   |  April 24, 2016 at 7:28 am

      Thanks for that report, Mike. I’m glad the trip went so well for your family. It really is just as you described, too.

  2. KK   |  March 3, 2015 at 5:40 pm

    I will be following this itinerary May 9-15 with a layover at Cremation Canyon so we can hike down to the river (fgure we’ll reload with h2o there). The maps you have listed enough- will that and a compass suffice, or is there need for gps or additional maps as well? First time to the canyon- very excited and want to make sure I’m well prepared!
    Thanks!

    • MichaelALanza   |  March 16, 2015 at 7:59 pm

      Hi KK, that’s a good time of year, though it can get hot by midday. You might even have time on your layover day hike to the river to hike partway up the North Kaibab Trail and back; it’s in a narrow gorge for a few miles, with a beautiful stream, and may give you nice shade. Yes, the Trails Illustrated map is fine, the trail is good, you don’t need a GPS. Just a few minutes’ walk west of Cremation Creek is one of the best campsites I’ve seen in the canyon, with a natural rock overhang that provides a shaded kitchen area. You’ve picked a great baptismal hike for the Grand Canyon, have fun. I’ll be doing another canyon trip a little later in May, actually, and looking forward to it. The place is magical.

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  5. howardkaufman   |  June 16, 2014 at 9:01 pm

    Beautiful pictures and hike description! I love that you’re doing all these wonderful hikes as a family. Me and my pop did something similar over multiple summers when I was a kid. Keep trekking!

    • michaellanza   |  June 17, 2014 at 8:10 am

      Thanks Howard, we will do that.

  6. George Heywood   |  June 6, 2014 at 5:44 am

    What a beautiful location. This definitely goes on my list of hikes i want to try before i die. I can definitely agree with the ‘It doesn’t look real’ sentiment, just too beautiful.

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Grand Canyon Hiker