Originally built with the intention of providing access to copper mines on Horseshoe Mesa, the Grandview trail was one of the first highly-maintained trails on the South Rim. As such, the trail quickly became a magnet for tourists as it provided visitors with a way into the canyon at a time when such trails didn’t exist.
Instead of leading to the outlook it is named after, this trail starts off at Grandview Point, a lookout spot located along the South Rim’s famous Desert Drive. While highly maintained in its pioneering years, today the trail has become narrow and overgrown as visitors touring Desert View stick to the rim and its many views. Venturing down the rim, however, will reveal that Grandview Point has much more to offer than the outlook suggests, namely the Coconino Saddle and Horseshoe Mesa. While many people rarely go beyond the Coconino Saddle, making a round-trip to and from Horseshoe Mesa is a completely doable six miles (9.7 km) and absolutely worth it.
Getting to the first goal-point, Coconino Saddle is a fairly easy ordeal. While the trail starts off steep with only a few wide switchbacks to balance the terrain, the hike is easy enough to enjoy the gorgeous views of wildflowers and expansive scenery. From here, you’ll be able to see sections of the trail ahead. When you reach the Coconino Saddle, you’ll be warned not to proceed further unless you are adequately prepared for the trail ahead. While a bit rougher than the first mile, getting to the Horseshoe Mesa is simply a matter of caution.
Beyond the Coconino Saddle, the trail turns away from the familiar South Rim cliffs and opens up to reveal the eastern face of the Grand Canyon. Where once the creativity of the trail’s engineers was showcased through a series of logs chained to the side of the cliffs (called “cribs”), today the mounds of rock and gravel that take their place reveal the unpredictable nature of landslides. It is because of landslides that this section of the trail is considered dangerous.
Nearing the mesa, you will also find evidence of the trail’s past in the form of giant mounds of the copper mine’s waste. The metallic flecks in these gravel heaps will catch your eye, but don’t get too near as radiation poisoning is a risk. Mine shafts, old machinery, a stone cabin and an old camping site provide further insight into the site’s mining past.
For a day-hike distance, Horseshoe Mesa is a good turn-around point, but continuation trails do exist past thos point. For those wishing to reach the Colorado River, a two-mile hike further down the rim will reveal a fork at Tonto Trail.
Keep in mind that Grandview Trail, while located on the more accessible South Rim, is still considered an unmaintained trail and as such, lacking in water and helpful park rangers.