We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Tonto Trl. from Indian Garden to S. Kaibab

Austin, Texas
Level Contributor
263 posts
Save Topic
Tonto Trl. from Indian Garden to S. Kaibab

GC beckons again.

I have questions about doing Tonto from IG, then up SK. Everything I've read/found thus far on this section of Tonto seems to be about doing SK-Tonto-BA. Sometimes, landmarks, markings, etc. that are seen going one way are not seen/clear in the reverse direction. Due to circumstances beyond my control, I may have a camping opportunity at Indian Garden (on the way up). I don't wish to ascend on BA and was wondering if I could go up SK via Tonto. This will most likely be done solo, so my question is about the clarity of the trail (Tonto), markings, forks in the trail one needs to watch for etc. (assuming it is not inadvisable to do this solo for someone who is generally well-prepared and not foolish). I don't own a GPS device and am generally not directionally challenged. But would it be advisable to take one for this (short stretch of Tonto)? I don't foresee this to take longer than half a day to reach the top, if that. I'll be starting from IG first thing in the morning. This is planned for mid-Sep.

I am aware of the exposure, total lack of shade, water, the distances and elevations (Tonto between BA and SK, and SK between Tipoff and top), etc.. FWIW, I've done SK-PR-BA twice, once with companions overnighting at PR, and once solo going to PR just to be there for a bit, drink lemonade and come right back up after a short rest. If getting a spot at Phantom Ranch was not such a PITA, life would be somewhat easier.

Thanks.

Ann Arbor, Michigan
Destination Expert
for Grand Canyon National Park
Level Contributor
7,593 posts
15 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Tonto Trl. from Indian Garden to S. Kaibab

I think you're asking if there are any route-finding issues on that stretch of Tonto and the Tonto-SK junction? Shouldn't be a problem. That's the heaviest-travelled portion of the Tonto and, last time I was there, the junction was signed (at the Tip-Off). There's also a toilet at the function.

You have about 4 miles on the Tonto and then 4.5 miles on SK, plus about 3K feet in elevation. "Average" hike time would be about 5 hours (@ 2mph on the Tonto and 1.5 mph on SK.) Mid-September weather can vary but it sounds like you know this has the potential to be a hot hike.

Austin, Texas
Level Contributor
263 posts
Save Reply
2. Re: Tonto Trl. from Indian Garden to S. Kaibab

Thanks DTF.

Yes, my question was about the potential to get lost coming on Tonto from IG to SK. I've seen the marker for Tonto near Tipoff while going down SK to the bottom but not hiked on any part of Tonto.

Would you say SK is less heavily traveled than Tonto between SK and BA? I crossed maybe 10-15 people total when I descended all the way down on SK a couple of yrs back (perhaps because ascent is not recommended on SK?). I had the canyon all to myself for the most part. SK has minimal potential to get lost on since it's pretty obviously going up/down the whole way, but Tonto being flattish in those parts, I'm just a bit wary of continuing on it past SK by mistake and continue to Cottonwood Creek.

Thanks for the toilet structure reminder (hope it's visible when coming on Tonto from the west). The exposure, lack of water and time of the year for my plan make it somewhat of a concern that I not end up wandering around anywhere unintentionally. Otherwise, I don't always mind unplanned detours in less hospitable conditions.

Ann Arbor, Michigan
Destination Expert
for Grand Canyon National Park
Level Contributor
7,593 posts
15 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Tonto Trl. from Indian Garden to S. Kaibab

There's a sign at the junction and South Kaibab is a clear trail. I can't imagine you missing it.

The Tonto is cairned sporadically, especially where it crosses washes. Imo, even the sections where the trail becomes faint, it's nearly impossible to get truly lost with the rim to the Colorado River on one side of you and the Redwall on the other. Even if you get off-trail temporarily, you can't help but cross South Kaibab and there's nothing faint about SK.

There will definitely be more hikers on SK than the Tonto. (From my perspective, 10-15 people on one trail in the GC is "crowded"...)

Austin, Texas
Level Contributor
263 posts
Save Reply
4. Re: Tonto Trl. from Indian Garden to S. Kaibab

Excellent. Got it. Thanks.

If 10-15 people over a stretch of 6+ miles is a crowd, I take it you are not into cruises. :)

vcv
Tennessee
Level Contributor
1,728 posts
170 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Tonto Trl. from Indian Garden to S. Kaibab

If you are at all concerned about making your way through the washes, you can design a map of the area on the website mytopo.com (thanks to DTF, I know about this site). I ordered an enlarged map from them showing the trail through the washes on another section of the Tonto; the enlargement makes it much clearer what to do after entering a wash than the maps sold in outdoor stores (such as the National Geographic one, which is excellent but has a much smaller resolution). The mytopo maps cost slightly less than $20 and they ship almost immediately, or I think you can print out your own if you have the right equipment.

Edited: 08 July 2014, 17:31
Austin, Texas
Level Contributor
263 posts
Save Reply
6. Re: Tonto Trl. from Indian Garden to S. Kaibab

Thanks VCV. I am not concerned about any specific thing as I don't know enough detail of the terrain on that section. Just trying to not overlook possible problems.

The <mytopo.com> maps seem to be essentially Google maps. I didn't check the site in detail for their other offerings. I'll look at the details of the Tonto trail topography to see if I can identify any potentially confusing sections and be watchful.

Meanwhile, here is some light entertainment -

http://tinyurl.com/lbmeep7

http://tinyurl.com/kmhaoky

SK seems pretty straightforward on these and one barely notices the switchbacks after (below) Skeleton Point. But the never-ending switchbacks on BA between just below the 3M Resthouse and the BA Trailhead are somewhat clearer. The real entertainment is, of course, in actually coming up on them.

I've read the description of the Tonto Trl between SK and IG elsewhere on-line and hope that with all this information plus my familiarity with my pace and fair ETA projections etc., I can manage to stay out of trouble.

7. Re: Tonto Trl. from Indian Garden to S. Kaibab

-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-

This topic has been closed to new posts due to inactivity. We hope you'll join the conversation by posting to an open topic or starting a new one.

To review the TripAdvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html

We remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason.

Removed on: 14 July 2015, 20:16
Get answers to your questions about Grand Canyon National...