By the numbers
Length: 4 days
Cost: $1050 (4-day)
Route distance: 28 miles
Energy-mile equivalent: 37 EMs
Difficulty: Very strenuous
For experienced hikers seeking historic trails, Colorado River rapids, and wilderness solitude, the Hermit Loop has big appeal. This route takes you down Hermit Trail to a remote-inner canyon campsite along Monument Creek, named by explorer John Wesley Powell for its towering rock formations. A trip to Granite Rapid takes you to the bottom of Grand Canyon, and a traverse along the Tonto Trail takes you to the desert oasis of Indian Garden. On the final day of the trip, hikers return to civilization via the historic Bright Angel Trail.
What you experience
- Remote campsites and amazing solitude
- Incredible views from the majestic Hermit Trail
- Monument Creek, Indian Garden, and the Colorado River
- The serpentine channel of a deeply cut inner-canyon creek
- The bottom of Grand Canyon near one if its biggest rapids
Hiking mileage: 9.3 miles
Start/finish elevation: 6,640 ft. / 2,995 ft.
Route: Hermit Trail to Tonto Trail, Tonto Trail to Monument Creek
On day one, we follow the Hermit Trail seven miles to the Tonto Bench, where the Tonto Trail covers our remaining two miles to Monument Creek. Beautiful views abound form the scenic Hermit Trail, but make no mistake: This is a challenging hike. Acrophobic and inexperienced hikers will want to choose a different trip.
Once the crown jewel of Grand Canyon’s trail system, the Hermit Trail fell into disrepair after a luxury inner-canyon camp was abandoned in the 1930s. Today, the Park Service describes this local favorite as “a major step up in physical difficulty and potential hazard” for hikers whose Grand Canyon experience is limited to the better-maintained corridor trails.
Hiking mileage: 3.2 miles
Start/finish elevation: 2,995 ft. / 2,995 ft.
Route: Out-and-back trip to Granite Rapid from Monument Creek base camp
Day two on the Hermit Loop takes a more leisurely pace. In the morning, we follow the Monument Creek drainage 1.6 miles from our campsite to the Colorado River. We’ll spend the day here exploring a Colorado River beach, with a background soundtrack courtesy of Granite Rapid. Before night falls, we return to our base camp up Monument Creek and get ready for the next day.
Hiking mileage: 10.7 miles
Start/finish elevation: 2,995 ft. / 3,800 ft.
Route: Monument Creek to Indian Garden via Tonto Trail
This is a long day with some big views. An early start affords us better hiking weather as we hike the Tonto Trail. Traversing a wide, inner-canyon bench, we contour around Salt and Horn Creek, whose drainages cut more than a thousand feet into the rock below us. A desert scrub environment means lots of wide-open views to the north, where beautiful rock formations tower above us. Upon arriving at Indian Garden, we take a well-earned rest.
Hiking mileage: 4.8 miles
Start/finish elevation: 3,800 ft. / 6,860 ft.
Route: Bright Angel Trail to canyon rim
Dawn breaks at Indian Garden, and we break camp before saying goodbye to the inner canyon. The last of our high-mileage days are behind us. Instead, we’ll be ascending the Bright Angel Trail 3,000 vertical feet to the canyon rim. Gaining elevation, we hike through different life zones, leaving behind open desert and reaching juniper-pinyon woodlands Finally, the Bright Angel Trail emerges on the canyon rim, not far from modern-day amenities like ice cream and cold drinks.
You know that friend-of-a-friend who has tons of cool gear, legendary skills, and an encyclopedic knowledge of local terrain? Canyonology Treks is like the down-to-earth version of that guy.
We take care of the big-ticket gear: Packs, tents, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, and trekking poles. For clothing and various personal items, we provide a concise packing list. We also provide transportation to and from our staging point in Flagstaff. Ever struggled with a finicky camp stove? Good news: Meals in the backcountry are prepped and served by your expert guide.
Alternate itineraries: Itineraries may vary slightly from those described here. The most common cause of variant itineraries is backcountry permit availability. Canyonology Treks won’t submit a permit request for different dates or locations without talking to you first.
Group size: Other hikers may be joining you on your trip. Multi-day trips accommodate mixed groups, with a maximum of six guests total.
Rates: Listed rates are per person per trip. Guests are responsible for the cost of clothes, toiletries, and other items on their packing list. Guests are also responsible for arranging transportation between home and our staging point in Flagstaff. Flights into Flagstaff are available, but many guests will prefer to fly into Phoenix. From Phoenix, shuttle services and rental cars are available to cover the roughly 2.5-hour drive into Flagstaff.
Gratuity: Guide gratuity is not included in the trip fee. Typical gratuity is between 10 and 20% of trip cost.
Difficulty: Trekking Grand Canyon is not easy. We ask prospective clients to honestly evaluate their abilities, and to consult with a physician. Overnight trips in Grand Canyon involve an added degree of difficulty to which clients may not be accustomed. Although your guide will be carrying a disproportionate amount of the group’s gear, practical considerations mean that the trip is not fully portered, and clients will be hiking with technical backpacks.
Cancellations: For information on cancellations and refunds, see our terms and conditions.
About your guide
Your guide is Mike Campbell, a Grand Canyon local and owner of Canyonology Treks. In between guiding Grand Canyon hiking trips, Mike has written for various canyon-related publications, including Canyon Views, the quarterly publication of the park’s official non-profit partner organization. He has also worked for Grand Canyon Whitewater and led classes for the Petrified Forest Field Institute.
Hermit loop trip dates
Trip departure dates are based on hiker needs
Inquire with the dates that work best for you. Canyonology Treks then submits a backcountry permit request based on your needs. For hikes during the summer months, we recommend the Rim-to-River route.
Because registration is subject to backcountry permit availability, early applications are preferred.