Trip Details

Type: Backpacking/Camping

Days: 4 or 5 Days

Distance: 30 mi/48 km

Difficulty: Intermediate +

Origin: Flagstaff, AZ

Cost: 4 Day: $1100/person, 5 Day: $1300/person

*All commercial trips in Grand Canyon National Park are subject to a 5% fee required by the National Park Service. This fee is included in the advertised trip cost. 

Trip Description

This rewarding hike is a great first step away from the popular corridor trails and into Grand Canyon’s more rugged backcountry. The route descends from the South Rim on the historic Bright Angel Trail to Indian Gardens before merging onto the Tonto Trail for a night in the quiet and secluded Horn Creek. Over the next two days, you’ll travel west along the Tonto Trail, traversing in and out of the many side canyons and being treated to some of the most awe-inspiring views Grand Canyon has to offer. Monument Creek is a beautiful watery oasis with great campsites along the babbling stream. A final night along Hermit Creek offers the opportunity to visit the Colorado River at the mighty Hermit Rapids. A hearty climb out the Hermit Trail on Day 4 will test your endurance while rewarding with stunning views along this exciting route.


Guest Testimonials

“A Spectacular Experience! From our first contact with Four Season Guides, to farewell hugs at the conclusion of a mind-blowing backpacking trip, this was an outstanding experience. The trail itself was mind-blowing, and very different from the “corridor” we had done previously. This is definitely a route requiring an experienced guide, and we were in the best of hands with Jeremy and Four Seasons.

Being able to communicate directly with Dave, the owner of the company and himself an experienced guide, made all the difference in getting consistent, accurate, credible (and patient!) information, which was not our previous experience with a larger company. We also scored the Emperor of All Guides, Jeremy Williams, whose unflagging enthusiasm for the Canyon animated our entire experience. Jeremy was an inexhaustible source of Grand Canyon history, geology, botany, zoology, entomology, and lore–exactly the “nerd” you want on a guided adventure. (We encountered multiple people along the route–from Rangers to Wranglers–who greeted Jeremy with warm enthusiasm, and told us he was the best guide they knew.) Jeremy prepared delicious, healthy, abundant meals, and pampered us in every way (especially carrying enormous weight in water, food and gear so we didn’t have to). 

We recommend this company whole-heartedly and will be back for more! Thank you for a spectacular experience.” Deena B.


“Far beyond any expectations my husband and I had in our minds. We did a 5 day backpacking trip, the “Hermit Loop” itinerary with guide Matt. My husband and I have each been to the Grand Canyon previously, but those experiences were very superficial “peek over the rim” type trips. We felt very well-equipped with the equipment provided by Four Seasons, and I felt safe during all aspects of the trip. I could not have planned a better trip without the guidance of Matt and owner Dave.  

The Hermit Loop trip showed us a side of the canyon we never knew existed. It really shows the vastness of the canyon and allows you to enjoy it on a more personal level without crowds. Definitely recommend this trip. Matt is a very enthusiastic, knowledgeable and caring guide in addition to being fun. You can tell how passionate he is about the canyon and nurturing similar feelings in his guests. He absolutely made this trip for us, and we will ask for him the next time we travel with FSG! Also, regarding food, my husband and I were prepared for granola and MRE-type meals we carry on personal backpacking trips– we were pleasantly surprised with the quality of food offered and abundance. We certainly did not expect fresh chicken fajitas the first night!” – Bill W.


“Just back from Grand Canyon Hermit Loop, with Four Seasons Guides, backpacking for 5 days 4 nights end of September. The Hermit Loop is an amazing adventure with some time without packs. Highlights included a creek walk to the Colorado-Hermit rapids, very cool fossil rocks, tiny Salt Creek with smooth narrow canyon walls, camping by Granite Rapids with the thundering water, and the high isolation of the Tonto trail and desert lands, last evening having supper on Plateau Point (from Indian Gardens campsite) and hiking up Bright Angel trail before dawn .

Pre trip info was very informative, and we all arrived ready to go and fit enough to handle it. Our guide Jeremy was extremely well organized and took care of everything. Jeremy did all the cooking with very careful and thorough water and food preparation and cleanups. We had impressive meals and snacks every day and 3+ litres of clean water each. The FSG provided backpacks and equipment were very good – light and easy to set up. I especially loved the great sleeping bag and my little one woman tent.

Jeremy obviously loves being in the Grand Canyon and had extensive knowledge of the trails and history, biology and geology. It was a lot of fun to have him as our guide and to be shown his favourite sites, side creeks, and fossils. And I dont know how he carried that massive heavy pack.

Start training and go with Four Season Guides!” – Helen R.


“Our first hike with Four Seasons Guides three years ago will always be special because we were in “shock and awe” for the first 48 hours and didn’t quite know how to think, feel and act because it was so incredibly different than anything we had ever experienced being from Ohio. That said, this hike, our third now with FSG took it to a new level! And, the experience was exactly what we had asked FSG for … longer, more remote, ability to venture into side canyons, etc.

Our FSG guide, Dave, was awesome in all respects … personality, responsibility, fun, sense of humor and adventure, thoughtfulness, meal prep, biology education and he’s part mountain goat! We’d definitely hike with Dave again and sincerely enjoyed his company. The Hermit Loop (down Bright Angel Trail, out Hermit Trail) is everything we hoped for and better. It’s so much nicer to only see a handful of people each day and get to explore the side canyons along the way, versus staying on the Bright Angel and South Kaibab trails the entire hike. Camping at Salt Creek and Hermit Creek are absolutely wonderful and we’d highly recommend them. The Tonto and Hermit trails are incredible experiences and so much more “authentic” feeling than the “highway” trails in GC. They truly enable you to enjoy a better sense of “adventure” and “unique, custom experience”. The weather in late April was perfect, all the equipment and gear worked just right and the food was delicious as always. We wouldn’t have changed a thing except for wanting to stay longer! And frankly, FSG’s rate structure provides excellent value for your dollar. We highly recommend both Four Seasons Guides and Dave specifically with absolutely no reservations!! Don’t look any further.” – Chris G.

Trip Itinerary

Day 1:
Depart Flagstaff early for the drive to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon and the Bright Angel Trailhead. After final preparations, we will begin our trek down into the Canyon, stopping regularly for breaks, snacks and photo opportunities. A stop at famous Indian Gardens for lunch offers a well-earned break from downhill hiking. We then turn west on the quiet Tonto Trail and enjoy more level terrain for the last few miles into camp along Horn Creek. Relax as while your guide sets up camp and prepares a delicious dinner.  
Drive Time: 1.5 hours
Distance & Elevation: 7.3 miles, 3000 foot descent
Light Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 2:
After a tasty breakfast, your guide will pack up camp and lead the group along the Tonto Trail to Monument Creek. You’ll pass through Salt Creek Canyon along the way and be treated to epic views of the Colorado River, Granite Rapids and The Abyss. This day features relatively level walking punctuated but short, steep ups and downs as you pass through each tributary canyon. Monument Creek is a welcoming home for your second night below the rim.
Distance & Elevation: 8.2 miles, minor decents & ascents
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3:
Continuing west along the Tonto Trail, you’ll enjoy another day of beautiful vistas and peace and quiet. The sculpted buttes of the North Rim and the towering canyon walls are highlights of this wonderful stretch of trail. Your camp at Hermit Creek offers a lovely stream flowing through a gorgeous stretch of sandstone narrows. It’s only 3.5 miles from Monument Creek so you’ll have the whole afternoon to explore the lower canyon and perhaps visit the Colorado River at Hermit Rapids. Your guide will prepare a final evening feast before your last night’s rest beneath the starry skies.
Distance & Elevation: 3.5 miles + 3 miles day hiking, minor decent & ascents
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4:
After packing up camp we begin our final ascent to the South Rim. The Hermit Trail climbs 3800 feet across 7.8 miles and is an exercise in patience and determination. We will get a sunrise start, take our time, and enjoy the stunning views as we climb the Cathedral Stairs, pick our way through a lengthy Supai traverse, and pass through peaceful Waldron Basin before the final climb to Hermits Rest. Expect to arrive back in Flagstaff by 5pm.
Distance & Elevation: 7.8 miles, 3800 foot ascent
Breakfast, Lunch

*5-Day Option:
This 5-Day itinerary involves a layover day at Monument Creek on Day 3, before continuing on to Hermit Creek. This day will involve a relaxing morning followed by a 4-mile roundtrip day hike down Monument Creek to the Colorado River. The afternoon can spent relaxing at camp, enjoying the beautiful pools along Monument Creek, or exploring the upper reaches of Monument Creek with your guide.

*Final itineraries are occasionally subject to change due to permit/campsite availability, park restrictions/closures, weather conditions and/or road closures.

What’s Included

  • A professional, licensed and medically trained guide
  • All necessary gear: backpack, tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, trekking poles
  • All cooking/eating gear: bowls, cups, utensils (your guide will prepare all meals)
  • All meals from a light breakfast on Day 1 through lunch on the last day + trail snacks
  • Roundtrip transportation from your hotel in Flagstaff, AZ to Grand Canyon
  • Entrance fees and backcountry permits

What’s Not Included:

  • Transportation to/from Flagstaff, AZ
  • Lodging the night before/after the trip
  • Clothing, raingear, and footwear
  • Personal toiletries, sunscreen
  • Water bottles/hydration bladder
  • Headlamp or flashlight
  • Guide gratuity (suggested 10-15% of trip cost)

*Upon Booking you will receive a detailed trip information packet

How many people are in the group?

Most backpacking trips in Grand Canyon will accommodate 5 people plus one guide. On occasion, a group may be as large as 9 people plus 2 guides.

Are there age restrictions?

Children under the age of 13 are generally not permitted on backpacking trips. This restriction may be negotiable on private tours. Please contact us with any questions regarding this policy.

How do i sign up?

In order to confirm a reservation, we require an initial deposit of $250 per person, with the final balance due 90 days prior to the trip’s departure. If you book a trip within 90 days of the trip’s scheduled departure, then full payment is due at the time of booking.

Your deposit is payable over the phone by Visa, MasterCard, AmEx, or Discover. Checks by mail are fine as well, as are bank transfers ($35 transfer fee). Call our office Monday to Friday, 9am to 4pm Arizona time. 1-877-272-5032

Where does the trip begin/end?

This trip will begin/end in Flagstaff, AZ and you will need to spend the night prior to your trip’s scheduled departure in Flagstaff. You will want to fly into either Phoenix (2 hour drive) or Flagstaff. Please visit our Travel Resources page for information on airports, shuttles/rental cars and recommended hotels.

Where do meet our guides?

We will hold a pre-trip orientation at 4:30pm the evening prior to your trip’s departure at the Four Season Outfitters shop in Flagstaff. Departure times and logistics for the following morning will be discussed at the orientation.

Departure times and logistics for the following morning will be discussed at the orientation. Most trips will depart between 4:30am and 7am. *This meeting is not mandatory, but highly recommended, as we will depart early the next morning. If you are unable to attend, please let us know in advance so that we can make alternate arrangements.

What do we do with our car and extra stuff?

We will provide all transportation to/from trailheads for the duration of the trip. We will pick you up at your hotel in Flagstaff and return you there at the trip’s conclusion. Guests staying at the Embassy Suites (recommended) or Hampton Inn & Suites can leave their cars at the hotel. These hotels will often store your luggage for you, as well. If not, we are happy to store extra luggage at our shop for the duration of the trip. If you are staying at a different hotel, you will need to check with them as to whether you can leave your car there.

What time will we get back on the last day?

Expect to be back in Flagstaff by 5pm at the latest on the last day of the trip. Many trips will return earlier but we cannot make any guarantees. In general, it is recommended that you do not plan to fly home on the same day your trip finishes. Since each trip has slightly different logistics, feel free to contact us with specific questions related to the expected return time for your trip.

2019 Dates

November: 7-10, 13-16, 17-21

December: 16-20

 

2020 Dates

January: 6-10, 16-19

February: 13-17, 24-27

March: 9-12, 16-20, 18-21, 22-26, 24-27, 30-April 2

April: 6-9, 9-12, 13-17, 19-22, 27-30

May: 4-7, 7-10, 11-15

More dates to come soon…

Don’t see your dates? Custom dates may be available!

Call 1-877-272-5032 or email us for details.

When booking your Grand Canyon backpacking trip, make sure that you book out at least 4+ months in advance due to Grand Canyon National Park’s permit system. The deadline to apply for backpacking permits is on the first of the month, 4 months prior to the month you intend to hike (i.e. January 1 deadline for all May trips, February 1 for June, March 1 for July…etc.).