The Tanner Trail is a Rim to River trail. If you are thinking of Rim to River and back as a day hike, it is an extreme challenge. More so than the mileage might suggest.
In fact the mileage estimates from Rim to River on the Tanner varies according to source:
- Sky Terrain Grand Canyon Map 7.8 miles
- Grand Canyon NPS 9 miles
- Hiking Grand Canyon NP Adkinson 7.6 miles
- Hiking The Grand Canyon Annerino 10.4 miles
Taking the National Park Service guidance of 9 miles Rim to River, the route from Rim to the top of the Red Wall is at minimum a 7 mile round trip. However it does feel more.
The trail starts about 150ft before the parking lot at Lipan Point. Park your car and follow the road back a short way and you’ll see a large Information Board just off the road on your left. This is the trailhead.
The trail starts gradually towards the edge of the Rim before dropping steeply in a long series of switchbacks down to the saddle between Seventyfive Mile Creek and Tanner Canyon. The saddle is in view below you for most of the descent.
This first section is steep. The trail descends the east side of a gully before switching to the west side and working its way down. The trail is in decent shape but is a bit rocky requiring a wee bit of clambering in places.
assuming you’re not trying to break any records it should take you about an hour to get to the saddle. Keep an eye out as you get close to the saddle, the trail drops down off the ridge into the wash on the right before rising back to the saddle. If you miss this you’ll be forced to backtrack or do a bit of scrambling down off the ridge.
From the saddle Escalante Butte rises ahead of you. The trail circles around the east (right) side of the butte before skirting the first of two bowls below Escalante and Cardenas Buttes. I love this part of the trail. Tanner Canyon really opens out, you can see the trail stretch ahead. You can really stride out here. There are also some perfect camping spots along the way.
According to Annerino, half hour scrambles from the saddle between them will take you up Escalante and Cardenas Buttes. I scrambled up to the saddle and left it at that!
As you come out of the second bowl the trail rises slightly before dropping down a short section of switchbacks followed by a half mile stroll out to a stunning overlook, (see the short video below). This is your destination.
You’ll see the Tanner Trail drop off to the right just before the overlook on it’s way to the river.
The river looks close from here – it’s not!!! It’s at least another three and a half miles (possibly more) to the beach. Assuming you’re coming back up, that’s a minimum seven miles to get back to where you are. Having done it, I can swear it feels a lot longer than the mileage suggests.