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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 as seen from the South Rim (view north)

Overview

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

The Plateau Point Trail runs north from Indian Garden on the west side of Garden Creek. The trail climbs gently 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.

Link to map.

Plateau Point Trail
Hiker on Tonto Platform heading for Plateau Point (view north)

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 you could 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 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
Plateau Point sign with hitching posts for mules in the background (view north).
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 parking is a few minutes walk to the southeast, across the railroad tracks from the Bright Angel Lodge.

Plateau Point Trail
Hiker at the farthest overlook (view northeast).

The Hike

From the trailhead, hike 4.6 miles down the Bright Angel Trail to Indian Garden. Continue past the Ranger Station and campground to the corrals (Table 1, Wpt. 65), where the Plateau Point Trail branches off to the west and crosses Garden Creek.

Across the creek, the wide trail 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.

Plateau Point Trail
Plateau Point Overlook (view west).

The trail continues running 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.

As the trail approaches the edge of the Inner Gorge, there is are hitching posts for mules and a "Plateau Point" sign (Wpt. 67). This is the highest point in the area and provides grand views up and down the Inner Gorge.

Plateau Point Trail
Colorado River rushing below the Plateau Point Overlook (view down).

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.

Return to the trailhead by retracing your footsteps.

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 120424

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