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Plateau Point Trail
Hiking Around Las Vegas, Grand Canyon National Park
Plateau Point Trail
Plateau Point Trail
Plateau Point and Indian Garden (view N from the South Rim)

Overview

The Plateau Point Trail runs north from Indian Garden on the west side of Garden Creek. The trail climbs gently traversing grand country as it runs out across the Tonto Platform to the edge of the Inner Gorge. At the edge, the trail goes out onto a narrow neck of rock that juts into the canyon and provides breathtaking views. A guard rail protects people from falling over the edge, but be sure to keep an eye (maybe a leash) on the kids.

The Plateau Point Trail starts at the north end of Indian Garden, so to hike this trail, visitors must first get to Indian Garden, some 4.8 miles below the South Rim. For details of getting to Indian Garden from the South Rim, see the Bright Angel Trail.

Link to map.

Plateau Point Trail
Lower Bright Angel Trail at Plateau Point Trail (view N)

Watch Out

Other than the standard warnings about hiking in the desert, ...the Plateau Point Trail is pretty safe out to the end, but the cliffs are abrupt and hikers will find several places to stumble off into the abyss. Don't be fooled by the cool summer temperatures on the rim; these temperatures quickly give way to scorching heat lower in the canyon. During the mule-riding season, when droppings on the trail can make a dusty mess, pay attention to instructions from the cowboys.

Water and toilet facilities are available only at Indian Garden.

While hiking, please respect the land and the other people out there, and try to Leave No Trace of your passage. This trail is short, but it is a long way to get there, so be sure to bring the 10 Essentials. Be sure that you are physically fit and that you choose routes of the appropriate difficulty for your skills and endurance.

Plateau Point Trail
Trail signs at Bright Angel--Plateau Point trail junction (view N)
Getting to the Trailhead

This hike is located down inside the Grand Canyon. The easiest access is from the South Rim, about 5 hours southeast of Las Vegas.

From Las Vegas, drive out to the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park. From the South Rim Visitor Center, ride the shuttle bus to the Bright Angel Lodge bus stop or the Village Transfer bus stop. The Bright Angel trailhead is located on the rim of the canyon between these two shuttle bus stops. The trailhead is marked with signs and a round mule corral made of stones. The closest public all-day parking is a few minutes walk to the southeast, across the railroad tracks from the Bright Angel Lodge.

Plateau Point Trail
Second trail signs at Bright Angel--Plateau Point junction (view N)

The Hike

From the trailhead, hikers must first descend 4.6 miles down the Bright Angel Trail to Indian Garden. Continue past the ranger station and campground to the mule corrals (Table 1, Wpt. 65), where the Plateau Point Trail branches off to the left and runs west crosses Garden Creek.

Across the creek, the trail turns north and generally follows the contour as it winds in and out of several little side canyons for about 0.7 miles. As the trail runs out onto the Tonto Platform, it passes the Tonto West Trail junction (Wpt. 66) and begins to straighten.

The trail continues northeast in a fairly straight line as it climbs gently towards the edge of the Inner Gorge. The vegetation through here mostly is blackbrush and widely spaced two-needle pinyon pine trees. Keep an eye out for mule deer, which are also common in this area.

Plateau Point Trail
IG Mule barn and hitching posts; trail to Plateau Point (view NW)

As the trail approaches the edge of the Inner Gorge, it passes the place where the mules used to stop (Wpt. 67) and riders had to dismount and walk the rest of the way. This is the highest point in the area and provides grand views up and down the Inner Gorge.

A narrower trail continues for another 0.1 miles to the Plateau Point Overlook (Wpt. 68), which is at the end of a narrow neck of rock. There is one particularly narrow point that adds some serious interest to the end of the hike, but beyond that railings protect people from falling over the edge.

Views from the overlook truly are spectacular, and the view down to the river makes you feel as though you are flying above it.

Be sure to notice the trace fossils in the rocks at the overlook, then when ready to depart, return to Indian Garden by retracing your footprints in the dust.

Plateau Point Trail
Passing mules and starting on the Plateau Point Trail (view NW)
Plateau Point Trail
Crossing foot bridge over Garden Creek (view W)
Plateau Point Trail
One more Plateau Point trail sign (view W)
Plateau Point Trail
Hiker following along Garden Creek (view N)
Plateau Point Trail
Trail stays level while Garden Creek drops away (view N)
Plateau Point Trail
Grand scenery (view N down Garden Creek)
Plateau Point Trail
Trail contours in and out of side canyons (view W)
Plateau Point Trail
Hiker on trail (view N)
Plateau Point Trail
More grand scenery (view N down Garden Creek)
Plateau Point Trail
Contouring around another side canyons (view W)
Plateau Point Trail
Wild green colors in the sedimentary rocks (view NW)
Plateau Point Trail
Keep an eye out for little surprises growing among the bushes
Plateau Point Trail Plateau Point Trail
Plateau Point Trail
Some prickly pear cactus get purple in winter
Plateau Point Trail
Hiker at Tonto West--Plateau Point trail junction (view N)
Plateau Point Trail
Tonto West Trail (view N)
Plateau Point Trail
Tonto West Trail sign (view N)
Plateau Point Trail
Plateau Point Trail continues across open blackbrush flats (view NE)
Plateau Point Trail
Banana Yucca along the trail (view NE)
Plateau Point Trail Plateau Point Trail
Plateau Point Trail Plateau Point Trail
Plateau Point Trail
Trans-canyon water pipe can be seen under the trail
Plateau Point Trail
One of several water control structures (here in green box)
Plateau Point Trail Plateau Point Trail
Plateau Point Trail
Sign near Plateau Point
Plateau Point Trail
Save a life: don't feed or harass California Condors
Plateau Point Trail
The mules used to stop here (view N)
Plateau Point Trail
Narrower trail continues towards the point (view N)
Plateau Point TrailA thoughtful French day-hiker records our memories (view NE)
Plateau Point Trail
Approaching Plateau Point (view NE)
Plateau Point Trail
Hiker descending stone stairs (view NE)
Plateau Point Trail
Trail goes into shadow and around the rock slabs
Plateau Point Trail
Hiker passing behind rock slabs
Plateau Point Trail
Behind rock slabs: a rather cliffy spot (view NE)
Plateau Point Trail
Hiker approaching end of trail (view NE)
Plateau Point Trail
Hiker at end of trail guardrail (view NE)
Plateau Point Trail
Hiker at Plateau Point guardrail (view W)
Plateau Point Trail
North Rim (view NE from Plateau Point)
Plateau Point Trail
It is a long way down to the Colorado River (view NE)
Plateau Point Trail
Colorado River rushing below the Plateau Point Overlook (view down)
Plateau Point Trail
Colorado River (view W from Plateau Point Overlook)
Plateau Point TrailPipe Spring Canyon (view SE from Plateau Point Overlook)
Plateau Point Trail
Making more selfies at Plateau Point
Plateau Point Trail
Plateau Point Overlook (view W)
Plateau Point Trail
Trace fossils in the stone at Plateau Point
Plateau Point Trail
Trace fossils in the stone at Plateau Point
Plateau Point Trail
Trace fossils in the stone at Plateau Point
Plateau Point Trail
Trace fossils in the stone at Plateau Point
Plateau Point Trail
Trace fossils in the stone at Plateau Point
Plateau Point Trail
Trace fossils in the stone at Plateau Point

Returning to Indian Garden

Plateau Point Trail
Ready to depart Plateau Point (view SW)
Plateau Point Trail
Hiker approaching the narrow spot (view SW)
Plateau Point Trail
Hiker at the narrow spot (view SW)
Plateau Point Trail
Hiker atop the stone stairs (view SW from narrow spot)
Plateau Point Trail
Long, straight trail heading towards Indian Garden (view SW)
Plateau Point Trail
More long, straight trail heading towards Indian Garden (view SW)
Plateau Point Trail Plateau Point Trail
Plateau Point Trail
Approaching Tonto West trail junction (view SW)
Plateau Point Trail
Starting to contour around gullies (view SW)
Plateau Point Trail Plateau Point Trail
Plateau Point Trail Plateau Point Trail
Plateau Point Trail
Descending into Indian Garden (IG; view S)
Plateau Point Trail
Crossing a wet spot on the trail with cattails (view S)
Plateau Point Trail
Crossing footbridge over Garden Creek (view SE)
Plateau Point Trail
Returning to Bright Angel Trail north of IG campground (view E)

Table 1. Hiking Coordinates (NAD27, UTM Zone 12S). NOTE: This is UTM Zone 12. Download Hiking GPS Waypoints (*.gpx) file.

Wpt. Location Easting Northing Elevation Point to Point Distance (mi) Cumulative Distance (mi)
65 Indian Garden Corrals 398582 3993025 3,723 0.0 0.0
66 Tonto West Trail 398825 3993862 3,694 0.7 0.7
67 Plateau Point 399506 3994599 3,786 0.6 1.4
68 Plateau Point Overlook 399594 3994669 3,765 0.1 1.5

Happy Hiking! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 170809

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