|Rock Garden - Grand Canyon Routes|
22 April, 2002
The Miners Trail is the old alignment of the South Kaibab access before the current trail and the black bridge were constructed as one of the earliest Grand Canyon National Park development projects. At that time, the Bright Angel Trail was still operated as a private tollway so this was the only "free" access to the river.
The easiest approach is to descend the South Kaibab Trail and turn west at the Tonto Trail junction. The head of the route is near the upriver point of the next drainage west of the South Kaibab Trail. Start down the west side of the saddle on the Tonto Trail and then cross to the north side of the ravine and contour toward the west and north along the slope of the hill. The route is aligned with the Tipoff Fault as it appears on the GC Geologic Map and descends the Tonto Platform rim along the break formed by the fault. The first cairn encountered along the Tapeats rim does not mark a route; continue north to another rim cairn above the slope behind a small north-facing cliff.
Descend the ledges following a weathered track showing remnants of trail construction and turn north at the base of the cliff to the saddle defined by a hump of pink granite. Go down and along the west slope of the hill and continue below the ridgeline to the next saddle. The track seems to disappear here. Pass around to the east side of the next hump; the route does not look very promising at this point with a very steep drop to the northeast. Rock is very crumbly and unstable and large chunks that look like handholds or footsteps can come loose. Considering that sections of the River Trail between the silver and black bridges are directly below, take extra caution not to let rocks roll. The route descends the northeast slope for some distance and crosses over to the southwest at another saddle. Again, this ravine does not look promising as a route when viewed from the top. The trail or route is obscure and there are many loose rocks on this steep slope but travel is not especially difficult. Sections of trail are evident near the bottom. The track connects with the Bright Angel Trail in the bed of the first ravine west of the silver bridge where there is a large, shaded overhang next to the trail.
Difficulty and Appeal
The original trail has been destroyed to the extent that this is now an off-trail route, but it is still good enough to travel with a pack with reasonable caution. Staff at Bright Angel and Phantom Ranch sometimes use this as the quickest way (not quite the same as a shortcut) to get up to the rim.