Route: Tonto Trail (AZ)

Submitted by Superstition Railway on Mon, 06/08/2020 - 07:10pm
Arizona, US
91 mi
Vertical Gain
8,311 ft

Tonto Trail is the longest trail in Grand Canyon National Park, many hikers follow a part of it, but very few hikers follow it entirely. Unlike those trails from rim to river, it runs along the south bank of the Colorado River, mostly on the Tonto Platform. The Tonto Trail officially begins at Garnet Canyon and ends at Red Canyon.  If you have finished R2R2R, Tonto Trail might be your next challenge in the Grand Canyon.

If one were to follow the longest section of Colorado River, one would start at Elves Chasm on the west and Tanner Rapid on the east, and the whole trip would be 117mi (not including getting down from and back up to the Rim).

(Editor's Note: Routes usually should start and finish at a trailhead, but the Tonto Trail is long and notable, and clearly starts/finishes below the Rim at two other trails.)

GPS Track
tonto.gpx220.72 KB


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Hello FKT community! I will be thru-hiking the Tonto Trail this coming weekend and if all goes well I will establish the first FKT record for this route. I know others have done this route and I am definitely not going to be the the fastest, but I like the idea of being the first female to solo hike and submit a time for the Tonto. This is a project I've been working on for a year + and have really enjoyed getting to know the Canyon better each time I've gone out there.

I will be hiking in classic thru-hiker style, self-supported, I will carry all my food but have cached water for myself in advance. I do not have any pre-arranged support, but if lucky will get a hitch to the S. Bass Trailhead or vicinity. Havasupai Tribal Lands Gate is closed to hikers due to Covid restrictions and so in respect of that, I will most likely just walk the Boundary Trail to get to S. Bass TH.

Since the logistics of getting to Garnet Canyon are tedious, I will aim to start on Sun 2/21, starting at Garnet Canyon and head East to Red Canyon. I will be using my Garmin In Reach and maybe Strava as tracking for time. I am really looking forward to all this time beneath the rim in the magical Canyon, and I honor all those who have come before me, especially paying my respects to the people of the Tribal Lands of the greater Grand Canyon area, and my deep respect to the land of the Canyon herself.

Cheers to a great adventure!
Mary Poppins (Milissa Gillen)

In Reach Link:

It looks like Milissa finished the full Tonto in about 2d15h.  Neat!

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Greetings! Yes, I completed the Tonto last night (2/23) for a time of 2d 14hr 46min. Will be sending in my official time to you guys. Great adventure, stoked!! 

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While the Tonto Trail is an amazing route, I feel like a more aesthetically pleasing route would be Little Colorado River to Elves Chasm, or the reverse.. I am excited to see someone tackle that someday. There are trails the entire way and the ending points seem to make more sense to me than Red Canyon to Garnet…. Anyway, just my two cents.  I’ve done this entire route and it’s pretty challenging. Especially with how vague the “trail” gets for so many of the miles, and the lack of water. I won’t even pretend Im capable of throwing down a fast FKt time, so hopefully some more hardcore athletes will get after it!

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Hi all! My friend, Molly Brown, and I are going for the Tonto (supported) FKT this weekend. We plan to start around 4 or 5am on Saturday 11/19. We'll be traveling west to east, from Garnet Canyon to Red Canyon. We'll be using an Inreach and Garmin to track our "run."