This gorgeous hike in the eastern Grand Canyon takes you through a startling change in the geology at the floor of the canyon, where the open shale hills of the Tanner area give way to the somber Granite Gorge. The hike starts at the Tanner Trailhead at Lipan Point and ends at the Grandview Trailhead at Grandview Point, so you'll need to do a short car shuttle along Desert View Drive.
The Tanner Trail starts a few yards down the access road below the Lipan Point parking area. The unmaintained trail descends rapidly through the rim formations via a series of short switchbacks, then levels out and crosses the saddle at the head of Seventyfive Mile Canyon. Descending gradually through the Supai Group as it swings around Escalante and Cardenas buttes, the Tanner Trail reaches the rim of the Redwall Limestone above Tanner Canyon. A few broad switchbacks lead onto the Tonto slope, and the trail winds past some impressive slump blocks of Tapeats Sandstone before descending along a ridge in the shales of the Grand Canyon Supergroup. The trail reaches the Colorado River at the mouth of Tanner Canyon. Most hikers will spend half a day descending the Tanner Trail, so you may want to continue downriver before camping.
The hike continues downriver to the mouth of Cardenas Creek along an informal trail. There are campsites near the river and also upstream in a short narrows in Cardenas Creek.
Continue the hike by following the cairned route and informal trail up Cardenas Creek and then onto the ridge above Unkar Rapid. The trail climbs the ridge to the south until just below the Tapeats Sandstone cliff, then turns west and contours around the end of the fin of Tapeats Sandstone. South of the fin, the route drops into Escalante Creek and follows the bed to the river, except for a couple of places where the trail leaves the bed to bypass dry waterfalls.
At the river, the trail follows the left bank downriver for a few yards before being forced to follow a rising ramp in the Shinumo Quartzite to avoid the cliffs along the river's edge. The trail follows the ramp around into Seventyfive Mile Canyon and upstream above an impressive lower gorge in the quartzite before finding a break. Descend to the bed of Seventyfive Mile Canyon when you can and then follow the bed downstream back to the Colorado River.
The trail stays at rivers edge for nearly a mile to the mouth of Papago Creek. Most hikers will take a day to travel the informal trail from Tanner Canyon or Cardenas Creek to Papago Creek, and the camping is better here than along the next stretch.
Cliffs block the route downriver from Papago Creek. To continue down river, walk a few yards up Papago Creek and follow a cairned route up ledges and to the right to a break where you can descend back to river level. It's now a easy hike downriver to the mouth of Red Canyon.
The Red Canyon Trail climbs up Red Canyon to the South Rim, but a better hike is to follow the Tonto Trail, which also starts at the mouth of Red Canyon. The Tonto Trail crosses a sand flat above Hance Rapid and then climbs around into Mineral Canyon. After crossing Mineral Canyon, the Tonto Trail climbs to reach the beginnings of the Tonto Platform north of Coronado Butte. The trail then meanders south along the Tonto Platform to cross Hance Creek. If Hance Creek is dry at the trail crossing, you can usually find water a short distance downstream. You can camp here, or shorten the climb out of the Canyon by ascending the east side Grandview Trail to the back country campsite on Horseshoe Mesa. Horseshoe Mesa is dry, so you will have to carry water for a dry camp.
Leaving the Tonto Trail on the west side of Hance Creek, the east side Grandview Trail climbs past a spur trail to Miners Spring (located on the north side of the unnamed canyon, at the base of the Redwall Limestone), passes shafts from the Last Chance Mine, and climbs to the Redwall Limestone rim on the east side of Horseshoe Mesa. The old mine cook shack and the backcountry campground are north of this trail junction. The upper Grandview Trail climbs south up the slopes of the Supai Group and then works its way through the Coconino Sandstone cliffs via some serious trail construction, finally ending at Grandview Point.