Tanner Trail

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona 86023

Elevation Gain6,171ft
Trailhead Elevation7,356ft
Elevation Min/Max2684/7356ft
Elevation Start/End7356/7356ft

Tanner Trail

Tanner Trail is a hiking trail in Coconino County, Arizona. It is within Grand Canyon National Park. It is 6.9 miles long and begins at 7,356 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 14.1 miles with a total elevation gain of 6,171 feet. The Lipan Point viewpoint, the Lipan Point (elevation 7,408 feet) cliff, and the Lipan Point parking are near the trailhead. This trail connects with the following: Escalante Route and Beamer Trail.

Tanner Trail Professional Guides

Detailed Trail Descriptions from Our Guidebooks

Hiking Grand Canyon National Park (Falcon Guides)
Ben Adkison
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"A rigorous rim-to-river backpack of three or more days, following one of the South Rim’s more difficult trails."
Backpacking Arizona: From Deep Canyons to Sky Islands (3rd printing) (Wilderness Press)
Bruce Grubbs
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"This hike initially descends into the eastern section of the Grand Canyon, where the geology is strikingly different from the central Grand Canyon. Here, the soft rocks of the Precambrian Grand Canyon series are exposed. These colorful shales and sandstones have eroded into a relatively open space along the Colorado River, as compared to the deep Granite Gorge along the western section of this hike. The stretch of the Colorado River through Granite Gorge features some of the wildest rapids in the Grand Canyon. Optional side hikes take you to several of these long, rocky, and violent rapids."

Tanner Trail Trip Reports

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This trip is a great choice for anyone looking for an epic, challenging journey in the Grand Canyon that is away from tourists and off the beaten path. It offers plenty of spectacular views and remoteness. I did this trip in Jan 2009 with 4 other guys over the course of 6 days. This turned out to be a rather aggressive itinerary. If I were to do this again, I would consider adding another day (maybe 2) to make it a little less taxing.
The trip was strongly front-loaded in difficulty. The 1st day, descending the Tanner Trail, was by far the worst (the upper reaches of the trail were covered in snow, which made progress tedious). The 2nd day, on the Escalante Route, was also difficult. Much of the “trail” is strewn with boulders, and there is virtually no level hiking; progress is always slower than you expect. Upon arriving at our 1st 2 campsites, we felt destroyed physically, and we even camped a little short of our goals.
The hiking became progressively easier, and by the end of the 3rd day, on which we transitioned to the Tonto Trail, we had caught up to our original itinerary. If the Escalante is like driving on a dirt road, the Tonto trail is like driving on a paved road; progress is much faster. The 4th and 5th days were steady hiking on the Tonto, and we even camped ahead of our itinerary on the last night. On the last day, the South Kaibab Trail, which is well-maintained, was like an interstate freeway, and we went into uphill cruise control and arrived at the South Rim in the early afternoon.
Several notes are in order: 1) The trail guide here claims 47.5 miles; this is a gross underestimation. My GPS recorded 50.9 miles; it does not take elevation change into account, so this is also too short. The true distance is probably 55-60 miles. 2) Winter is an awesome time to do this trip. The weather is fantastic most of the day (nights are cold), and water is, relatively speaking, readily available. 3) Overall, the trip is rewarding and well worth it.
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For most of its distance, the Tanner Trail provides classic views of the Grand Canyon. Once the initial descent is completed, the Palisades of the Desert come into view all along the right hand portion of Tanner Canyon, Desert Tower up on the rim becomes a friendly sentinel for the remainder of the trip and the river is frequently glimpsed in the distance. The trail itself is relatively easy most of the time, if a bit tedious at the end when your quads are screaming at the relentless downgrade. There are two steep descents but no significant exposure, a long one right at the beginning lasting about the first 1.5 hours and a short one mid-way in the hike lasting about 30 minutes. Otherwise, there are relatively flat traverses and moderate, if long, downhill stretches. The trail is very easy to follow and no water is available until the river. Great beach camping is available at the river. I've always hiked it in the early Spring and experienced good weather. If you read, "Over the Rim: Death in the Grand Canyon," you may be discouraged from hiking it in the Summer and certainly without sufficient water. You shouldn't see more than 2-3 other people on the trail. It's an excellent first-time in the Grand Canyon backpacking route. 5-6 hours down, 6-7 hours up. Good camping (dry) is available halfway down if you want to do a more relaxed trip.
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My best friend and I made a mad attack on Tanner Trail the weekend after Christmas, 2002. We only had the weekend to spare, so we carried only what we absolutely needed for an over-night trip. The morning was beautiful, windy but sunny, but as soon as we dropped below the rim, the wind vanished and the air warmed. There was probably six inches of pretty fresh snow on the ground, and there had been at least one party through before us. This made the trail easy to see, but not to packed or slick. With crampons, the hiking was easy, especially with our light packs. I carried only a sleeping bag and pad, and food for two lunches, dinner and breakfast. My buddy carried his gear plus, a stove and fuel, and a water filter. We made pretty good time down the trail,caching water at the Seventy-five Mile Saddle and mading lunch on the final descent in the Dox sandstone. The views of the river were amazing as well as a pretty continual view of the watchtower on the south rim all the way down. We made the river by mid-afternoon and set camp right on the river. We cooked our dinner at sunset and we were in our bags soon after. It was in the 20's on the river, but we had good bags, sleeping pads, and a tarp to get us through the night. We had no problem with rodents on this trip. The next day started early with an oatmeal breakfast and hot chocolate. The hike out was steep and steady, but not over-whelming. We could not believe how fast this trail gained elevation and distance from the river! The weather was perfect all the way up. We made lunch just after retrieving our water at the saddle. Weather closed in on us on the way up, and we both hoped to hike in a little falling snow. We were lucky, the flurries started in the last mile and a mini-blizzard hit as we walked to the truck. The hike out was very steep in places, but with our light packs, not extremely strenuous.
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This trail was the culmination of our 4 day backpack in the Grand Canyon. The previous night we camped at the rapids where the trail meets the river. I would strongly suggest not camping there. The varmits are horrible. Birds swooped in and grabbed pieces of unattended food/gear. A squirrel ripped a whole in my tent to get at some food. Overall a bad place to camp! Alas I digress, the Tanner Trail. We started early so we could reach the top before the heat really kicked in. You can see the river for a substantial distance before it finally wanders out of view, unlike the New Hance trail. This would be a substantial benefit if you hiked into the canyon by way of Tanner. The most difficult section is the two mile section below the rim. Rocky and fairly steep I had no illusions of paradise as I trudged the last few yards out of the canyon... then I saw the views from the overlook and my mind instantaneously made the transition back to paradise mode!

Tanner Trail Photos

Trail Information

Grand Canyon National Park
Nearby City
Grand Canyon National Park
Moderate to Difficult
Skill Level
Additional Use
Grand Canyon National Park, P.O. Box 129, Grand Canyon, Arizona 86023, (928) 638-7888 www.nps.gov/grca
Local Contacts
Desert View, Cape Royal, Grandview Point U.S.G.S.
Local Maps

Trail Log