By the numbers
Length: 2-, 3-, or 4-day options
Cost: $550 (2-day) / $750 (3-day) / $950 (4-day)
Route distance: 6 to 15 miles
Energy-mile equivalent: 11 to 23 EMs
Difficulty: Very Strenuous
Accomplished hiker? No fear of heights? The Grandview Trail has phenomenal views and incredible hiking. Your route takes you three miles down the Grandview Trail to Horseshoe Mesa, where the scattered remains of a 19th-Century mining operation are on display. Beyond the mesa, the horizon is dominated by flat-topped Wotan’s Throne and the craggy peak of Vishnu Temple. Following a narrow trail through cliffs on the east side of the mesa, we descend toward Hance Creek. Over the next two days, we hike around the base of Horseshoe Mesa, pausing to explore various areas. Our return trip takes us up the west side of the mesa, and we hike Grandview Trail back to the canyon rim.
What you experience
- Expansive views, beautiful campsites
- Challenging hiking with rewarding destinations
- Seldom-seen Grand Canyon history
- Forest, desert, and riparian habitats
Hiking mileage: 5.2 miles
Start/finish elevation: 7,400 ft. / 3,700 ft.
Route: Grandview trailhead to Hance Creek
On day one, we begin our trek at the Grandview Trailhead, where tourists crowd along the rim. But steep drops and a narrow trailbed discourage casual hikers from tackling the Grandview Trail, and the crowds are soon left behind us. A three-mile descent to Horseshoe Mesa takes us from the forested canyon rim to a sparse pinyon-juniper environment. If energy permits, we may take a side trip to one of the “arms” of the aptly named horseshoe-shaped mesa. After following a narrow trail through the steep Redwall cliffs, we pass by a small spring and continue on to find a camping spot near Hance Creek.
Hiking mileage: 5.4 miles
Start/finish elevation: 3,700 ft. / 3,900 ft.
Route: Hance Creek to Cottonwood Creek via Tonto Trail
Today, we leave behind steep trails for a relatively easy route that takes us counterclockwise around the base of the mesa. This is some of the flattest hiking that Grand Canyon has to offer, with inspiring views of Wotan’s Throne, Vishnu Temple, and the Desert Palisades. An early arrival to our campsite at Cottonwood Creek affords us time to relax and enjoy the late afternoon.
Hiking mileage: 4.4 miles
Start/finish elevation: 3,900 ft. / 7,400 ft.
Route: Cottonwood Creek to Grandview Trailhead
The day begins with a steep climb through the Redwall Limestone, following closely spaced switchbacks all the way to the top of Horseshoe Mesa. Atop Horseshoe Mesa, we rejoin the Grandview Trail, take lunch, and enjoy wide-open views. From there, we follow the Grandview Trail back to the trailhead, retracing our steps from the first few miles of day one.
Two- and four-day options
The two-day option omits the circumnavigation of Horseshoe Mesa, following an out-and-back route with one night of camping. The four-day option adds an extra day to the usual itinerary, allowing for additional exploration either atop or below Horseshoe Mesa.
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.
Grandview Trail and Horseshoe Mesa 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.