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Tonto East Trail --
Grapevine Canyon to Boulder Canyon
Hiking Around Las Vegas, Grand Canyon National Park
Grapevine Canyon to Boulder Canyon
Overview | Next Segment West | Next Segment East

Tonto East Trail
Tonto Trail crossing in Grapevine Canyon. The trail climbs around the left edge of the cliffs (view south).

Overview

I've organized my description of the Tonto East Trail into two parts: (1) an overview of the entire trail, trailheads, and other general information, and (2) individual canyon-to-canyon segments.

From Grapevine Canyon, it is about 6.4 miles and 2.75 hours to Boulder Canyon. This segment of the trail runs out the west side of Grapevine Canyon (heading northeast), loops around Lyell Butte, and then runs up into Boulder Canyon. The trail is fairly fast and easy, and the views above and below the trail and out into the Inner Gorge are spectacular. Grapevine Canyon and Boulder Canyon are both in Camping Zone BH9 (camping at-large).

Link to map of this segment.

Tonto East Trail
Lower Grapevine Canyon (view north).

Watch Out

Other than the standard warnings about hiking in the desert, ... This is a fairly safe trail. Be sure to read the Watch Out section on the Tonto East Overview page, which discusses things such as cell phones and signal mirrors. While hiking, please respect the land and the other people out there, and please try to Leave No Trace of your passage.

Tonto East Trail
Edge of the Inner Gorge between Grapevine and Boulder canyons (view west).
Getting to the Trailhead

Trailhead information is presented on the Tonto East Overview page. This segment of the Tonto East Trail can only be accessed from other segment of the Tonto East Trail -- there is no rim access.

Tonto East Trail
North Rim and Inner Gorge (view northwest).

The Hike

5. Grapevine Canyon to Boulder Canyon -- 6.4 miles and 2.75 hours

From the wash crossing in Grapevine Canyon (Wpt 35; 1356 hrs), the trail runs more-or-less straight across the canyon on the slickrock, down a little bit, and then switchbacks up under some little cliffs, angles south to the edge of a gully, then breaks out of the cliffs onto the Tonto Platform and runs north.

A few minutes out (1403 hrs), the trail turns a ridge and runs southwest into the west arm of Grapevine Canyon. Crossing the wash in the west arm (Wpt. 36; 1410 hrs), the trail stays more-or-less on the contour, crossing upstream from an outcrop of cliffs that would make a nice wet-night bivvy.

Tonto East Trail
Side canyon with slick rock crossing (view west).

Back along the main channel of the canyon (1416), the trail continues northeast along the edge of the Tapeats Sandstone overlooking the gorge. The trail turns into a 2-horned side canyon (1425 hrs), passes the back of the first horn (1427 hrs) in a jumble of rocks and comes out under an overhang, and turns out of the side canyon (1430 hrs) along the edge of the Grapevine gorge.

The trail then quickly turns into a shallow, multi-gully side canyon (Wpt 37; 1433 hrs), crosses it, and turns out of the side canyon at a spot (Wpt 38; 1440 hrs) with a campsite and space for 2 tents.

Tonto East Trail
Lower Boulder Canyon (view south).

The trail continues northeast, then turns into a huge side canyon (1445). In the back of the side canyon (Wpt. 39; 1453), the trail cuts up the gully, then takes an odd jog back down and around to the east, cutting below an enormous boulder before exiting the side canyon on the contour (1500 hrs).

The trail runs north and passes a point (Wpt. 40; 1503) with the first view into the Inner Gorge. Shortly thereafter (1510 hrs), the trail runs across a steep hillside with a spectacular drop-off into Grapevine Canyon with views of the Inner Gorge and the Colorado River.

Tonto East Trail
Upper Boulder Canyon (view south).

Passing the drop-offs, the trail runs up onto a low saddle (Wpt. 41; 1520 hrs) and turns out of Grapevine Canyon. There are nice campsites at the trail, and there is space for several tents out towards the point, all of which have truly spectacular views of the river and Inner Gorge in both directions.

From the low saddle (0728 hrs), the trail runs northwest across the hillside, rocky at first, then fairly smooth. The trail turns into a major side canyon (0737 hrs) and drops slightly to cross the back of the side canyon (0750 hrs) on slickrock that is almost at the very top of the pour-overs. The trail crosses a low ridge out of the side canyon (0805) and shortly turns into Boulder Canyon (0805 hrs) on a point overlooking the Inner Gorge.

Tonto East Trail
Trail into Boulder Wash (view southwest).

The trail then turns southwest and runs back into Boulder Canyon. The trail crosses a couple of little side canyons and one larger one. The trail is mostly gentle on the sidehill and mostly rocky in the side canyons, but fairly easy overall.

From the last major side canyon, the trail more-or-less follows the contour into the back of the canyon, then drops abruptly into Boulder Wash (Wpt. 42; 0849 hrs).

There are no campsites here, and no water either. Water is sometimes available at a spring a few minutes up the south fork of Boulder Wash, and also about 20 minutes down the canyon from the trail crossing.

Tonto East Trail
Hiker in Boulder Wash (view north).

The trail west cuts across the wash and slightly upstream following cairns.

The canyon is fairly wide here with lots of shrubs including Squawbush, Catclaw Acacia, Cliffrose, Single-leaf Ash, and lots of composite shrubs.

Table 5. Hiking Coordinates Based on GPS Data (NAD27; UTM Zone 12). Download Entire Route Hiking GPS Waypoints (*.gpx) file.

Wpt. Location Easting Northing Elevation Point-to-Point Time (min) Cumulative Time (min) Point-to-Point Distance (mi) Cumulative Distance (mi) Total Tonto Distance (mi)*
35 Crossing Grapevine Canyon 407987 3988245 3,500 0:00 0:00 0.00 0.00 19.76
36 Crossing West Arm of Grapevine 407657 3988405 3,549 0:14 0:14 0.57 0.57 20.33
37 Turning into shallow, side canyon 408243 3989182 3,590 0:24 0:38 0.96 1.53 21.29
38 Campsite for 2 tents 408420 3989251 3,646 0:06 0:44 0.20 1.73 21.49
39 Trail cuts up Gully 408726 3989813 3,672 0:13 0:58 0.54 2.27 22.03
40 First view into Inner Gorge 409180 3989799 3,707 0:09 1:07 0.37 2.64 22.40
41 Saddle turning out of Grapevine 409365 3990575 3,795 0:17 1:25 0.64 3.28 23.04
42 Boulder Wash 406881 3990605 3,620 1:22 2:47 3.09 6.37 26.13

Happy Hiking! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 111002

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