Grand Canyon National Park
Walking & Hiking
The descent into the Grand Canyon presents a thrilling trip back in time, offering views of up to six million years of erosion through four geologic eras. Excellent maps and trail pamphlets are available at visitor centers and park stores. This is just a sample of how you can enjoy the canyon on foot.
Rim Trail (moderate)
The perfect introductory hike, the Rim Trail extends from Pipe Creek Vista on Desert View Drive west to Hermits Rest. This approximately 13-mile trail is partially paved and partially dirt. Use caution when hiking along the rim. The trail is excellent for visitors acclimatizing to the 7,000-foot elevation and those unprepared for the physical challenge of the canyon descents and ascents.
This trail is also recommended for adults hiking with children. Although portions of the Rim Trail are unpaved and close to the edge, it is paved from Maricopa Point to Pipe Creek Vista.
South Kaibab Trail (steep)
This 12.6-mile round-trip trail is one of the few in the park that follows a ridge rather than side canyons. It is steep, however, dropping close to 5,000 feet in 6.3 miles. This trail hooks up with the Kaibab Suspension Bridge en route to Phantom Ranch and Bright Angel Campground. The trail is maintained but exposed, with no water available. The whole hike requires two days. The free Kaibab Trail Shuttle takes hikers to the trailhead, which is located five miles east of the village. For an excellent day hike, go as far as Cedar Ridge (three miles round trip, 1,140-foot elevation drop).
Bright Angel Trail (steep)
This well-maintained trail, improved in 1891 to provide access to mining claims, begins near Kolb Studio west of the Bright Angel Lodge in the Village and follows switchbacks through the several rock layers to the Indian Garden Campground and Inner Gorge. A detour on the Plateau Point Trail allows a dramatic overlook of the gorge. Near the Colorado River, the River Trail connects the Bright Angel and South Kaibab Trails. The Bright Angel Trail descends all the way to the river and Phantom Ranch (via the River Trail and North Kaibab Trail). The entire 19-mile round-trip hike descends 4,400 feet and takes most visitors two days.
Hermit Trail (steep)
This 17-mile round-trip on an unmaintained route leading from the canyon rim to the Colorado River begins at Hermits Rest, eight miles west of Grand Canyon Village, on Hermit Road. Take the Hermit Road shuttle to the trailhead. Sights include Hermit Gorge, the remains of Hermit Camp and Santa Maria Spring. A 1.5-mile trail variation leads to Dripping Springs. Water is usually available at Hermit Creek (7.8 miles from the rim). All water from backcountry sources must be treated or filtered. Elevation drops 4,240 feet. The route takes most hikers at least two days.
Grandview Trail (very steep)
The highlight of this six-mile round-trip trail is its descent onto Horseshoe Mesa where remnants of Pete Berry's mining operation can still be seen along with the blue copper ores that the Hopi once gathered for paint. The trailhead is located at Grandview Point on Desert View Drive, 12 miles east of Grand Canyon Village. The unmaintained trail drops 2,600 feet very quickly and requires caution. The round trip to Horseshoe Mesa can usually be done in one day by experienced canyon hikers. There is no water anywhere along this trail.
Permits for overnight backcountry hikes are available from the Backcountry Information Center. Please see "Camping" on pages 49—50 for more information.