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Tonto West Trail --
Indian Garden Campground to Horn Creek
Hiking Around Las Vegas, Grand Canyon National Park
Tonto Trail -- IGC to Horn Creek
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Indian Garden Camp
Indian Garden Campground (view northeast.

Overview

I've organized my description of the Tonto West Trail into two parts: (1) an overview of the entire trail, trailheads, and other general information, and (2) individual canyon-to-canyon segments. Elsewhere I have described the Hermits Rest, Monument Creek, Indian Garden, Bright Angel Trailhead loop (west to east) because this is a popular loop and it is easier to follow descriptions going forward than going backwards.

Link to map of this segment.

Plateau Point Trail
North of Indian Garden Camp. Trail can be seen on hillside at left edge of photo (view north).

Overview: From Indian Garden Campground, it is about 2.5 miles and 1.5 hours to the east horn of Horn Creek, the first legal camping area along the trail. Drinking water is available only at Indian Garden Campground. Water flows in Horn Creek, but it is contaminated with uranium from the old mine at the head of the canyon, so don't drink the water. This segment of the Tonto Trail exits Bright Angel Canyon, loops west around the ridge below Maricopa Point, and runs up into Horn Canyon. This segment of the trail is fast, wide, easy, and provides many grand views. Indian Garden Campground is in Backcountry Use Zone ICG (camping only in the campground), and Horn Creek is in Zone BL4 (camping only in designated campsites).

Tonto Trail -- IGC to Horn Creek
Tonto Trail (view east).

Watch Out

Other than the standard warnings about hiking in the desert, ...be sure to read the Watch Out section on the Tonto West 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.

Getting to the Trailhead

Trailhead information is presented on the Tonto West Overview page.

Tonto Trail -- IGC to Horn Creek
View across Horn Canyon (view northwest from trail).

The Hike

1. Indian Garden Campground to Horn Creek -- 2.5 miles and 1.5 hours

From the campground at Indian Garden (Wpt. 001), it takes about 15 minutes to get to the start of the Tonto West Trail. Hike north down the Bright Angel Trail to the corral, then cross the creek to the west side of Bright Angel Creek, and continue hiking north along the creek towards Plateau Point. About 10 minutes past the last cottonwood tree, the Tonto West Trail forks off to the west (Wpt. 002). If you have time, it probably is worth the walk out to Plateau Point (Wpt. XX1), although there are many similar views down the trail.

Mule deer in Horn Creek
Mule deer in Horn Creek (view southwest from trail).
The Tonto West Trail runs west and up across a gentle slope for about 5 minutes to cross a low ridge and exit the Bright Angel drainage system (Wpt. 003). From the low ridge, the trail gradually descends at an easy grade as it runs west across the blackbrush-covered side-slope below Maricopa Point. This is a good, easy trail with only a few rocky spots.
Tonto Trail at Horn Creek
Tonto Trail at east horn of Horn Creek (view north).

The trail goes over a ridge (Wpt. 004) and turns into the Horn Creek drainage system. The trail runs on the contour, drops down a hillside at fair grade on a rocky trail to the edge of the canyon, and then runs south on the contour towards the back of Horn Canyon. The trail passes a large side canyon with grand views down the cliffs (Wpt. 005) and then a smaller one before reaching the east horn of Horn Canyon (Wpt. 006).

There is a nice campsite under a tree on the east edge of the streambed, and there is an outhouse up the hill just west of the creek. From the number of cairns and hand-drawn signs, it seems that people have trouble finding the outhouse. Water runs in the creek about 50 yards up from the trail crossing. I found the water suitable for bathing, but don't drink it.

Table 1. Hiking Coordinates Based on GPS Data (NAD27; UTM Zone 12). Download Entire Route Waypoint (gpx) file.

Wpt. Location Time Easting Northing Elevation (ft) Verified
001 Indian Garden Campground (B13) 1313 398461 3992941 3,780 Map
002 Plateau Point - Tonto West trail junction (B12) 1248 398829 3993857 3,700 Map
003 Turn out of Bright Angel drainage 1243 398363 3994211 3,805 Map
004 Ridge (B11) 1220 398009 3994469 3,770 Map
005 Cliff with view 1205 397567 3994179 3,630 Map
006 East Horn of Horn Canyon (B10) 1150 397077 3993717 3,520 Map
XX1 Plateau Point (XX1) -- 399550 3994640 3,765 Map

Happy Hiking! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 120424

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