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Tonto East Trail --
Pipe Canyon to Garden Canyon
Hiking Around Las Vegas, Grand Canyon National Park
Pipe Canyon to Bright Angel Canyon
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Tonto East Trail
Pipe Canyon crossing (view NE)


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 the creek crossing in Pipe Canyon, it is about 2.6 miles and 1 hour to the creek crossing in Garden Canyon (Indian Gardens). This segment of the trail runs northwest from Pipe Canyon to the edge of Garden Canyon, then turns southwest and runs back into Indian Gardens. Views above and below the trail, especially the Redwall above the trail, are spectacular. Camping is not permitted along this segment of the Tonto Trail.

Link to map of this segment.

Tonto East Trail
Looking back at the Pipe Canyon crossing with trail on opposite bank (view SE)

Watch Out

Other than the standard warnings about hiking in the desert, ... this is a fairly safe trail, although there are some places to stumble off the trail into the abyss. 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
Trail on sideslopes with Blackbrush (view W)

Getting to the Trailhead

Trailhead information is presented on the Tonto East Overview page. The west end of this segment of the Tonto East Trail can be accessed from the Bright Angel Trail. The other end can only be accessed from other segments of the Tonto East Trail.

Tonto East Trail
Redwall cliffs above the major side canyon (view S)

The Hike

10. Pipe Canyon to Garden Canyon -- 2.6 miles and 1 hour

From the creek crossing in Pipe Canyon (Wpt. 81; 1145 hrs), the trail climbs out of the bottom of the canyon at a moderate grade to get above the cliffs, then runs out more or less on the contour.

The trail runs northwest, crossing a rocky gully (1153 hrs) with spectacular view of the Redwall limestone walls above the trail, and then runs up onto a broad ridge and turns into a major side canyon. Crossing the side canyon, the trail cuts across the side hills, angles down into the bottom of the canyon, runs up along the base of some cliffs, cuts across the wash (Wpt. 82; 1205 hrs), and then angles out on the contour (more convoluted than elsewhere on the Tonto).

Tonto East Trail
Trail on edge of side canyon (view N)

Getting out of the side canyon, the trail crosses a steep hillside (1208 hrs) with some good exposure into the bottom of the side canyon, then runs up onto a low ridge (Wpt. 83; 1216 hrs) to exit the Pipe Creek drainage. The trail mostly runs at gentle to moderate grades across the hillsides and up-and-down little ridges and ravines.

The trail crosses the low ridge and wanders down to cross another shallow side canyon, then contours onto a low saddle (Wpt. 84; 1226 hrs) behind a pile of boulders.

Tonto East Trail
Trail on sideslopes looking towards turn into Garden Canyon (shaded ridgeline; view W)

The trail continues to run west across the hillside in erosion gullies with lots of rocks, making a rather unglamorous ending to a grand trail, then crosses a ridge (Wpt. 85; 1232 hrs) and turns into Garden Canyon and the Indian Garden area.

After crossing the ridge, the trail runs southwest and descends the sunny and rocky hillside into Garden Canyon and the junction (Wpt. 86; 1239 hrs) with the Bright Angel Trail.

The Tonto Trail continues southwest, concurrent with the Bright Angel Trail, running upstream along Garden Creek. The trail passes a large stone building (pumphouse) and suddenly opens into a large shady clearing (Wpt. 87; 1248 hrs) and civilization.

Tonto East Trail
Trail down to Garden Creek (view SW)

The trail arrives at the corrals at the south end of Indian Gardens. Across the clearing, between the corals and the hitching posts, are the Plateau Point Trail and the beginning of the Tonto West Trail. The trail junction is marked, and across the creek, a broad trail runs north along the west side of the creek.

Upstream from the clearing, hikers will find water faucets, composting toilets, benches, and picnic tables. Farther upstream, the Bright Angel Trail continues to the Indian Garden Campground, Indian Garden Ranger Station, and eventually the South Rim near the Bright Angel Lodge.
Tonto East Trail
Hiker on Tonto Trail arriving at Bright Angel Trail (view N)
Tonto East Trail
Tired hiker in Indian Garden Campground

Table 10. 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)*
81 Crossing Pipe Wash 400762 3992384 3,646 0:00 0:00 0.00 0.00 37.97
82 Crossing a major side canyon 400005 3992760 3,683 0:20 0:20 0.80 0.80 38.77
83 Leaving Pipe Canyon 399898 3993315 3,780 0:10 0:30 0.47 1.27 39.24
84 Crossing a low saddle 399428 3993465 3,689 0:09 0:40 0.38 1.65 39.62
85 Crossing ridge into Indian Garden area 399071 3993597 3,703 0:06 0:46 0.28 1.93 39.90
86 Bright Angel Trail junction 398815 3993417 3,646 0:06 0:53 0.24 2.17 40.14
87 Trail junction to Plateau Point 398584 3993027 3,758 0:11 1:04 0.39 2.56 40.53

Happy Hiking! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 170820

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