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Tonto West Trail --
Monument Creek to Tonto-Hermit Trail Junction
Hiking Around Las Vegas, Grand Canyon National Park
Tonto Trail -- Monument Camp to Hermit Junction
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Monument Camp
Monument Canyon and camp (view east).

Overview

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

The Monument
Trail in side canyon and the Monument (view east).

From Monument Creek, it is about 2.3 miles and 1.25 hours to the Tonto-Hermit Trail junction. This segment of the trail climbs a side canyon to get out of Monument gorge, runs west around Cope Butte (the ridge below Pima Point), climbs over another saddle, and turns back into Hermit Canyon. The trail crosses a fairly long steep hillside on a narrow, dirt trail that could be hazardous when muddy. Water is available only at Monument Creek. The campground at Monument Creek (Backcountry Use Zone BL7) is the only legal camping area on this segment, although there are several illegal campsites at the Tonto-Hermit Trail Junction.

Link to map of this segment.

Monument Canyon
Hikers turning into Monument Canyon (view southeast).

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
Colorado River and Inner Gorge (view northeast).

The Hike

5. Monument Creek to Tonto-Hermit Trail Junction -- 2.3 miles and 1.25 hours

From the wash crossing at Monument Creek (Table 5, Waypoint 014), the trail runs north through the campground and down the west side of the canyon. From the outhouse at the north edge of the campground, the trail runs beneath highly sculpted Tapeats Sandstone cliffs for about 5 minutes to "the Monument," a 200-foot high, freestanding pillar of Tapeats Sandstone.

The Monument marks that start of the Granite Rapids Trail. This trail runs for about 1.5 miles to the Colorado River. I've not hiked this trail, but campers at Monument Creek said it made for a nice afternoon hike.

Tonto Trail
Hikers on trail above river (view northwest).

From the Monument, the trail turns west and runs up the south side of a side canyon. There is a species of Nolina (perhaps beargrass) growing here and in the campground that I didn't see elsewhere on the Tonto Trail. The trail runs along the south side of the side canyon, then crosses the wash to the north side of the canyon. Off-route cairns run up the wash, but a real trail runs along the north side of the canyon. The trail again appears to disappear just before it reaches several huge boulders that block the canyon. At this point, cairns mark a route up the north side of the canyon. It doesn't look like a trail, rather it is a steep, washed-out rubble field with lots of boulders to work around, but it only takes a few minutes to get from the wash to the top of the Tapeats cliffs.

Tonto Trail
Narrow trail on steep, dirt slope (view east).

Back on the Tonto Platform, the trail runs north across a pleasant segment along the edge of the cliffs before crossing a steep sidehill and running in and out of several little side canyons with steep, but short, bits of up and down. There are great views of the canyon and the rim all through here.

The trail abruptly turns west and climbs more-or-less straight up the hillside to a saddle (Wpt. 015) on the main ridge below Cope Butte where the trail turns out of the Monument Canyon drainage system. A nice illegal campsite lies just west of the saddle.

From the saddle (Wpt. 015), the trail drops at a fair grade and begins a traverse of the steep sidehill beneath the northwest face of Cope Butte. Here, the trail runs on a narrow, out-sloping, dirt trail that could be a problem if the trail were wet and muddy. It takes about 25 minutes to cross this exciting bit of trail and climb onto the next saddle.

Tonto-Hermit Trail Junction
Tonto-Hermit trail junction (view northwest).

From the saddle, there is a good view of the Hermit Rapids, and if you will be hiking out the Hermit Trail, the saddle is a good place to see the Cathedral Stairs, although the view will make you wonder how you will ever get all the way up there.

From the saddle, the trail enters the Hermit Creek drainage system and drops at a moderate grade for about 5 minutes to the Tonto-Hermit Trail junction (Wpt. 016).

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

Wpt. Location Time Easting Northing Elevation (ft) Verified
014 Monument Creek (B02) 1253 393269 3993521 2,995 Map
015 Saddle below Cope Butte (B01) 1145-1156 392445 3994573 3,389 Map
016 Tonto-Hermit Trail Junction (A06) 1116 391667 3994127 3,215 GPS

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

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