Trail Description : Grandview Trail
The Grandview Trail was originally constructed by a prospector by the name of Peter Berry. Berry operated a copper mine called the "Last Chance Mine" at the end of the trail, out on Horseshoe Mesa. Berry later used some of the profits from the mine to build the Grandview Hotel out on Grandview Point. He operated this for some years and being the only lodging available in the area it proved to be a most successful venture. That is until the Santa Fe Railroad extended its reach up into the Canyon which sparked construction of what is now Grand Canyon Village. That pretty much put an end to Berry's operation.
The trailhead for the Grandview Trail is located out at Grandview Point on the Desert View Drive.
Mileages are as follows (one-way):
Note: This trail is normally used by hikers to descend to Horseshoe Mesa or those beginning a multi-day trek through the inner canyon. It does not provide "direct" access to the Colorado River. Your only options for reaching the Colorado River from this trailhead are listed below. WARNING : THE LAST TWO OPTIONS ARE EXTREMELY DIFFICULT AND DANGEROUS ROUTES
Following Hance Creek to the Colorado is not an easy task. You should bring a rope and you should not attempt it alone. There a number of high dry falls that you will need to climb down or work your way around via various bypasses. There are no bypasses for the final drop-offs and you have no choice but to climb down.
This option is not recommended either, especially for solo hikers! The route is very difficult and requires technical climbing gear. I tried it last year and did not get very far. The descent down Cottonwood Creek requires you to climb down a number of high, dry (usually) falls. It would probably not be so bad if you had some rope and a partner or two. I had neither and considering the likelihood of ever getting help in this remote region of the canyon in the event of an emergency, decided against it.
The Grandview Trail is one of the best of the non-maintained trails. The upper sections are still held together by logs and steel rods dating back to the days of the Last Chance Mine. Some sections are filled in with cobbles which keep the trail level during some descents. The engineering and skill that went into building these Canyon trails is remarkable. These same cobbles, however, can create problems in the winter when they ice up and travelling over them will require the use of instep crampons. Aside from that, and a couple of sections that you might not like if you have a fear of heights, the trail does not have any really difficult sections and is a very easy hike down to Horseshoe Mesa.
The upper sections of the trail bring you down through the Kaibab and Toroweap Limestone. After about a mile and a half you reach the Hermit Shale. From this point on the trail follows along the western face of a cliff composed of the Coconino Sandstone. Below the Hermit Shale you will encounter the Supai Group which stays with you until you reach Horseshoe Mesa.
If you plan to camp on Horseshoe Mesa, the campground is located on the eastern side of the mesa, just back of the eastern arm. Just follow the signs. Chemical toilets are also available near the camping area.
The mesa top has a number of artifacts dating back to the mining period: miner's cabin / dining hall, mine shafts, ore crusher, ore carts and the such. The mine shafts should be avoided as the timbers are getting close to 100 years old and can give way at any time. There is an old indian ruin which is visible just below the northwestern end of the eastern arm of the mesa.
There is also a very nice collection of caves, named Cave of the Domes, just below the rim of the mesa on the western side of the western arm. To reach the caves continue north after reaching the mesa top, past the Cottonwood spur and the miner's cabin. Follow the trail towards the western side of the butte that tops the mesa and look for a trail that descends to the west over the mesa rim. I remember the trail as being very faint and unmarked, except for a cairn somewhat larger than the others that marked the trail. The trails goes down over the side and hugs the western wall of the rim along ledges and slides and after maybe ¼ mile comes to some openings in the cliff face. The first openings that you come to are fairly small though you might be able squeeze in. I am not sure if these are part of the main cave network. Continue on a little ways until you get to the more sizable entrance. You'll know it when you see it. There is a nice overhang of rock here that protects the entrance from the rim above and provides an excellent place to leave your pack and other gear while you explore the caves. Make sure you've got some sort of backup light source with you, be it another flashlight and/or extra bulbs and batteries. Make sure that you can change the bulb & batteries without being able to see what your doing. Practice with your eyes closed. Try dropping the bulb and make sure you can find it. Your life could depend on it. It is not advisable to explore the caves alone. If you must do so at least make sure that someone knows you plans so that they can tell the rangers where to go look for your body. When I was there a string had been pegged to the floor of the cave in the first or second chamber beyond the entrance. This ran down the middle of the cavern that lead away from the entrance that you could follow into the cave and use as a reference point. Many other corridors, some very large, ran away from this in all directions. I spent about an hour or two wandering around in the caves with two other people and we managed to work our way back maybe 2-300 feet under the mesa. If you find any passages between chambers that look a little difficult, look for alternates before making the attempt. Often times we did it the hard way only to find later (usually on the way out) that there was a much easier way of getting to the same place. Unfortunately most of the cave formations, stalagmites and stalactites and the such, have been broken off and carried away by souvenir hunters. Only the stumps remain of these but there are a number of other larger formations that I guess could not easily be carried away.
Back to the trails... If you are heading down to Cottonwood Creek, continue north towards the western side of the butte that caps the mesa. Look for the sign that marks that start of the spur trail that descends to Cottonwood Creek. If you reach the structure that is the remnants of the miner's dining hall, you've gone too far. This spur trail has a couple of steep sections but for the most part is a very easy hike down to Cottonwood Creek. From what I have heard Cottonwood Creek is usually dry. The two times that I have camped there, both times in late November / early December, it was flowing at a pretty good rate. Don't count on it.
It is also possible to reach Cottonwood Creek or the Tonto Trail by descending the spur trail that leads off from the northeastern part of the western arm of the mesa. This trail is known as the Cave of the Domes Trail. To reach it, follow the trail that leads to the left of the butte in the center of the mesa. I don't remember the top of the trail being marked but you'll know it when you see it. If you miss it you will end up at a cliff on the north side of the western arm from which you can go no further. There is a very nice little sandstone bench out here under a Pinon pine that I have used before as a picnic spot. It provides an excellent view of the Tonto Platform and also a good view of the Colorado River. The spur trail that descends from the western arm is considerable more difficult than the trail that leads down from the west side of the mesa. It switchbacks down very quickly and is littered with small rocks as well as some large boulders and does not look like it is used often. I've been down this trail once and up the western spur once and I definitely prefer the western one. When you reach the junction with the Tonto Trail head west and contour around the base of Horseshoe Mesa until you reach Cottonwood Creek. If you're heading for Hance Canyon or Red Canyon, take a right and head east.
There is also a spur trail that leads down to Miner's Spring, the Tonto Trail and Hance Canyon from the east side of the mesa. I watched some people trying to come up this trail once and said "No way"! It looks almost vertical in places, or maybe sections of the trail have simply fallen away. I do not recommend it. If anyone has been up or down this section and wishes to supply some details on it, I would be glad to include them here.