Explore the most popular river trails in Grand Canyon National Park with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

What a great trail! Beautiful scenery everywhere! The hike out is challenging for sure but worth it! The heat made things very difficult for awhile. Be sure to hydrate REALLY well!

Made this awesome hike with my wife and daughter last week for out 36th Anniversary. Impossible to describe! We did the hike in 3 days and spent two nights at Phantom Ranch. Be sure to see Ribbon Falls it is worth the extra distance.

Chose this as our one true hike at the Grand Canyon. I don’t regret my decision.

The way down Bright Angel is a breeze. Awesome views during that descent. Coming into Indian Garden is cool too. After Indian Garden the Plateau Point Trail is very exposed and is much hotter than the rest of the trail. Stick with it though and you’ll have great views of the Colorado River. On the way back, it’s cool to see Indian Garden sticking out compared to the rest of the canyon. We stopped there and soaked our feet in the water. The trek up Bright Angel is brutal. I’m in pretty good shape and it was tough. I’ve hiked a lot of trails with similar elevation gain but this one seemed like one of the tougher ones. The sun takes it out of you, and the dusty air seemed to mess with me a bit.


This trail was totally worth it. Bring lots of sunscreen, water, snacks (a solid meal probably), and make sure you’re acclimated properly before hopping. While there are water stations along the trail, I wouldn’t depend on them!

Great hike with great views.

Holy.... this was a very very hard hike. It didn’t help that the temperature got to 114 degrees, but it was insanely rewarding coming out of bright angel 13:35 hours later. Please train for this hike, no one will be able to help you if you can’t make it back out. Bring ample water and bring hiking poles. This isn’t a hike to take lightly. But it is an amazing hike and you will love it.

Hiked the trail down on 4/23. Amazing views every step I took. I would recommend the hike, but make sure you have plenty of water and you're sure-footed!

Pretty busy trail at the trail head to the first 1.5 mile stop. Then thins out and becomes a really great hike. We only made it down to the three mile stop before we turned around do to time, but the scenery is amazing!! Hike back up is harder for sure. Double the time down. Took us total of about 4 hours to complete stopping to take pictures and a couple rest stops. Water fill spots are really nice, but bring some snacks too. Next time will be prepared to go to the bottom!!

just hiked a little on the Boucher trail, but it was awesome, faint trail and great views

Completed this hike in April 2018 and I don’t think anything can compare to the feeling of reaching Bright Angel Trailhead after hiking for 50 miles. We did a lot of research leading up to it with the help of the park rangers and the resources on the NPS website.

We got very lucky with the weather in April, but it’s important to know that it’s technically off-season so the water is shut off in certain places. Having a filter is a must! Our itinerary was South Kaibab trailhead to Cottonwood campground (Day 1, ~15 miles), Cottonwood to North Rim to Cottonwood (Day 2, ~15 miles), and Cottonwood to Bright Angel Trailhead (Day 3, ~16 miles). I also highly recommend hiking the extra distance (~4 miles there and back) to Bright Angel Point once you reach the North Rim trailhead. It will reward you with incomparable views of the canyon and it will be worth it, I promise!

Also, park your car at your finishing point (in this case, Bright Angel trailhead) or bring 2 cars. The last thing you’ll want to do is take a shuttle when you’re tired and sweaty!

44.7 miles completed in 29 hours 21 min. South Kaibab - North Kaibab - Bright Angel. Beautiful and very intense. Bucket list ✅

May 19 2018. Not too hot yet. About 90 degrees at the end of the plateau.
A must see. The river view like none other. You can hear the rapids. Indian Gardens was like something out of a dream. So calm and serene. Nice stream running through.
It took us about 8 1/2 hours to do the round trip. Took lots of photos on the way down. Water available every 1.5 miles. The last 3 miles up were the killer.
This trail is used by the mules so be prepared for flies and stuff on the trail.
great day hike!!!!

I would recommend starting early in the morning between 6–7am. First, it can get very hot as you descend into the canyon. You want to start the return trip before the afternoon heat sets in. Second, if you leave early you can avoid the crowds from the tour buses. It’s a stunning hike. I don’t think it deserves a ‘hard’ rating but that’s relative. Bring plenty of water, a hat and sunscreen.

Amazing views the whole way down! Don’t be deceived by the short mileage, this hike can be tough on the way back especially if you don’t go early in the morning. There are water bottle filling stations every 1.5 miles though!

Incredible. Be ready for a grueling climb back to the top of Bright Angel Trail.

So, so sweet. Easier than Kaibab, but you get amazing views of the Colorado River.

I repeated this journey from 35 years earlier when I was in high school with a round trip hike down South Kaibab and back up Bright Angel on the south rim. This time though we did it on a full moon night hike. Started at 7:30p while the sun was setting and made it out at 5:30a with a beautiful sun rise. I've been to the bottom of the canyon multiple times before so I was looking for a different experience, hence the night hike. Obviously you can't see as much but it was a unique in experience.

Excellent pay off with views of the Colorado.

Amazing, but challenging hike. Once you make it to Plateau Point you are treated to an amazing view back towards the south of the canyon. bring plenty of water and check to see which water stations are open.

Accomplished this epic hike in one day at end of October 2017. Total time 11 hours with about 1 hour of stops, including 30 minutes for lunch.

North Rim campground was still open but not the lodge - it was the last weekend they were open. We dropped in at 6:30 am and it was 36 degrees. When we got to the tunnel we stripped down to base and kept moving. In all my prep hikes I focused on the ascent and underestimated the beating my knees would take going down and I tweaked my left knee. Could only step down with the left and up with the right so slowed pace to about 2mph going up. We stopped every two hours for protein and salt/electrolytes. Temp was a cool 80 degrees through the box and we carried 2L of water and refilled at each stop (the water was still turned on). My hiking partner missed eating protein at one stop and we had to make an unplanned stop in the box to eat (we were trying to get past PR before eating lunch). We stopped at the river house on bright Angel Trail for 30 minutes to eat and change socks. Then we started the climb out - kept a steady pace but I could really feel my knee - more on the incline then the steps. We climbed out at 5:30 to our shuttle group who set up camp. Nice shower, meal and Ice for the knee

Getting ready to do South to South in 2 days (May 2018) and will consider my lessons learned. I will take my knee stabilizers and wear them the entire trip. I will use my trekking poles the entire way. I will stay with our protein/electrolyte plan. Ultra electrolytes, pickles, almonds, tuna packs, cut veggies with full fat dressing and we will start with 4L of water since there is no water on South Kaibab and it will be close to 100 at our he bottom

hard trail, but so worth it.

started around 8 am, incredible walls of course, very step and one heck of a work out, only went to checkpoint 3 miles in then turned around, the steep down was wearing on my knees, I climbed out by noon, what a workout. I check GC off my list.

Stayed at South Rim the night prior to starting the early morning descent to Phantom Ranch via the 7.4 mile waterless South Kaibab Tr. We were able to leave our rental car at the the hotel parking lot (free of charge) and catch the free shuttle bus to the South Kaibab TH. Nice weather at the Rim (76*) but at the bottom, one can always expect the temp to be around 10-20* hotter, which was the case on our April 23, 2018 hike! Phantom Ranch was 98* when we reached it just a short 4 hours later!

The trail is well marked an maintained, so we never had to worry about losing the trail. There are at least 2 solar latrines that was impressively kept clean, HOWEVER, you will NOT have any available water (like you will on the Bright Angel Trail). Your first available water will be at the Colorado River at the very bottom, so make sure to bring at LEAST 3L of water and maybe even more if you tend to drink a lot. The lady at the Rim's visitor's center suggested 5-6L but for me (who tends to ration and drink less) I thought that was overkill and once at the bottom, I ended up barley drinking the 3L that I carried.

A must on this trail are:
1. Hiking poles. its at least a 4500 foot descent, which can be tough on your knees, so bring hiking poles to distribute the weight and save your knees so you'll have more years to hike.
2. Bring your camera - or at least make sure your camera phone has a descent camera and make sure your lens is clean! Every step of this descent will have magnificent views to take it all in but be careful not to hike an take photos or you could twist and ankle - something I witnessed when I hiked the Tahoe Rim Trail!

On the return trip up 9 a few days later) via the Bright Angel Tr - it is not as steep as this trail is 2.5 miles longer - but still goes up at least 4500 feet. Great views as well, many areas you can filter water as well as 2-3 latrines (again well kept) and with potable water sources. This trail is frequented by mules and their lakers, which carry people and/or supplies to/from Phantom Ranch and the Rim. When they approach, you are REQUIRED to pull off to the side to let them pass - and make sure your poles are out of the way - their packers say that hiking sticks can spook them.


...SIDE NOTE and PUBLIC RELATIONS NOTE FOR THE DAY:

Please know trail ETIQUETTE!!!! - there is such a thing as trail etiquette.
1. Horses and mules ALWAYS have the trail right of way! Step far off the trail as safety will allow and GET OUT of their way or bad things can happen!!! IF you spook the animal, he can hurt itself or the rider and/or you as well. If the animal hurts itself and cannot be healed, they must put the animal down!

2. The UPHILL hiker has the next right of way! Many people do not know this nor adhere to this etiquette and its disappointing! The uphill hiker has the more difficult hike and it makes it more difficult for him/her to constantly stop to get out the way of the downhill hiker who has the easer hike.

3. Sad to day but Mountain bikers have the least right of way...they are suppose to yield to animals, uphill and downhill hikers, but often I witness no etiquette here...they may not know, but if your are reading this please use etiquette...if you can't, then the NEXT BEST THING you can do is to call ahead and ALERT anyone up ahead on the trail!


Thanks for anyone willing to use trail etiquette!...Now get out there and enjoy our beautiful trails!!!

My wife and I just did this hike. Amazing views. A bit challenging to go back up, yet overall experience was great. We did it in 3h20m at a very slow pace, taking lots of pics along the way.

backpacking
22 days ago

Completed the Escalante route in late April 2018 with my son. What a wonderful trail! Regarding safety, it was quite comfortable for us in every aspect (though the Papago Wall gave me pause - more of a steep pitch than I expected). Our biggest near miss was with a rattlesnake about 18 inches away as I walked past with it unseen, sleeping under a low ledge next to the trail between Papago and Hance rapids. Hearing its loud rattle and turning to see it coiled and raised to strike was quite scary, particularly considering the rescue implications if I had been bit. We did not find the stretch from Cardenas to Papago intimidating, in spite of other trip reports. It really was quite comfortable walking. Poles are a must, but I never backpack without them on any trail. The most challenging part of the trip for me was hiking down Tanner midday in the heat – we weren’t able to get started until 9 AM and hiked until 4:00 arrival at Tanner beach with few shade opportunities. The hardest part for my son was hiking up from Horshoe Mesa the last day to the rim with a terrible sore throat. I started the trip with a terrible cold - he ended with it. So it goes! Temperatures down by the river were in the upper 80s during midday, and we carried 4-5 litres of water each, particularly important heading down the Tanner trail. Better to carry more than you need than less, as I learned last time I backpacked in the canyon! We adopted a successful strategy for beating the heat: started hiking by 5:45 AM, hiked until about 10:30, stopped to nap, read, sketch in the shade until about 4:30pm, and then hiked until dusk. Wouldn’t do it any other way - that midday heat is so depleting. We left at 9:00am on a Monday morning, and camped at Tanner Beach night 1. We hiked Tanner-Escalante Creek and rested in shade till 4:30, then hiked to Hance Rapids to camp for night 2 (thus doing the entire Escalante portion in a day). Day 3 hiked to Hance Creek, rested, then up to Horseshoe Mesa for night 3. Topped out on the rim at Grandview about 10:30 AM on day 4, Wednesday. A kind tourist couple gave us a ride back to our car at Lipan Point. My son and I both wore Altra Lone Peak trail shoes, and we’re so glad we did. They kept our feet comfortable, not too hot, handled the terrain really well, and were far preferable for us than hiking boots. The Escalante Route is definitely an expert trail, but if you are an experienced backpacker, it’s comfortable and really wonderful. Route finding skills (cairns are primary guides on this trail) and map + good trail beta printed out are a must. I’ve done a number of trails in the canyon, and this was my favorite.

Details: Began at South Kaibab, descended to River, crossed Black Bridge, followed River trail to Silver Bridge, crossed back over and ascended to rim via the Bright Angel trail. Did not actually go to Phantom Ranch.

Began our hike at 6:06 AM on 4/28. I was quite surprised that there was a few other groups starting out as well. We took our time going down the trail, stopping to take pictures and admire the gorgeous scenery. Hiking down this trail is like being on a alien planet. There were a fair amount of people trying to shove past us to run down, some more polite then others. There are two rest stops with vault toilets on the way down, one is Cedar Ridge and the other is The Tipoff. Made it to the black bridge at 9:24, early, but already getting hot outside. There is a water station that was open that is between the Black and Silver Bridges, so we were able to refill there. I am not sure its open year round, so check before planning your hike. After crossing the Silver Bridge, we sat in the shade for snack time, again just marveling at the mountains and river. Lots of rafts going down and even a few kayaks and paddle boards ! The River trail is short, but flat, so it was a nice break, but from Pipe Creek beach you begin ascending to reach Indian Garden. I have never quite understood or appreciated the meaning of "oasis" until I experienced reaching Indian Garden after trekking in the boiling hot sun. Its a beautiful little area with water, vault bathrooms, and tons of shady picnic spots. Spent a leisure hour eating, relaxing, and preparing for the hike up. The hike up is NOT easy, especially in the sun. The heat and dust really start to dry you out, so we took several breaks along the way, to drink water and eat something salty or a protein snack. We ended up passing several runners we had seen in the beginning of the day, I suppose they did not properly prepare. I would recommend bringing a hat and bandanna that you can drench in water and then wear. There are areas between Indian Gardens and the river trail that depending on the time of year, you cross a stream, and nothing feels better on your noggin then a cool bandanna. Do not underestimate this hike- bring water, food, and be prepared for a challenge. That being said, it has been the most rewarding hike I have accomplished thus far. The perspective it gives you on the canyon is too great for words. It is absolutely stunning up and down, but I really must say the hike down the Kaibab was more scenic in my opinion.

I have included my times below for anyone who may be concerned about going up and down in one day. Take it with a grain of salt, as my pace may be faster or slower then yours ! I would consider myself in above average physical condition, I am not an athlete by any means, but I am very used to backpacking, hiking, and running in the outdoors.

Begin: 6:06 AM
Oh Ah Pt- 6:28
Cedar Ridge - 6:45 to 6:55
Skeleton Pt- 7:29
The Tipoff- 8:10
Cross Black Bridge- 9:24
Crossed Silver Bridge to begin ascent- 10:38
Sat down at Indian Gardens - 1:09 to 2:19 PM
Indian Gardens to 3 mile resthouse - 2:19 to 3:15
3 mile resthouse to 1.5 mile resthouse - 3:15 to 4:16

End at Bright Angel trailhead- 5:26

Total time- 11 hrs and 20 minutes , apprx 20 miles

I do not have the total break time, but a family members GPS said we were active for about 8 hrs 46min, and the rest was breaks.

I hope this helps ! Do the hike if you are confident in your abilities, you will have the experience of a lifetime !

One of my favorite hikes, good advice to take your time, we had to shorten this to a 3 day hike so skipped on past Indian Garden right to the south rim, but if we had the choice staying there at Indian would have been better. My son and I did this hike starting at the north rim on the first day it opened, around middle of May. The weather/temps were perfect then. Make sure to spend some time at Ribbon falls it was my favorite spot.

Easy walk on the way down to the river, unbelievable views that you can’t miss! The walk back is quite difficult and requires you to be in excellent shape! The whole trek took us around 7 hours with breaks and photo ops.

26 days ago

The bomb!!

Friends and I won some camping spots via lottery to this trail (specifically Horse Shoe Mesa camping area) in April or May 2012. Unlike Bright Angel, there is a different view every turn, lots of twists and turns, solitude, and a bit more shade in parts. The saddle is particularly gorgeous. And also unlike Bright Angel, it has a lot of rocky, tall, steep stairs in the top half which can wear you out early, even if you consider yourself in moderately good shape, as I did. The forest service provides a detailed caution in how to prepare for this trail, yet our group still made some rookie camping mistakes. We brought too much gear. A trail this steep means you need to be light, especially returning up when you're already tired. Bring extra water...We used up more than 2.5-3 liters each in 24 hours, including cooking. The spring is to the east of the campsite, at least a mile away. It's in a small fern filled cove but not easy to spot from a distance. You should have a water filter as well. I missed locating the spring and hiked another 3 miles looking for water the next day after hiking from the rim to the camp. Talk about tired. And the anxiety I felt when returning to camp to tell the other campers I couldn't find any water. We all returned together to search again and found the spring, which was a lush small pool in May. I missed a turn at the old miner's wheelbarrow.... But by day 3, when it was time to go back up the canyon, with our heavy packs, nearly every one of us gave out before reaching the top. One camper got altitude sickness (vomited) on the easiest part of the hike, which was near the start as we descended from the rim. If you're not living at a similar altitude, take that into consideration as a possible unexpected setback. Take wind into consideration as it may mean you can't get that too heavy cook stove to work that you (we) shouldn't have brought anyway. It was a grueling time due to our mistakes, but still an amazing trail without the crowds. I returned a few weeks later to trail run the flatter parts of it. If you're a novice camper, though, consider the physical toll hauling gear and water at altitude will take on you and skip a camp stove, plush bed rolls, big tents, or thick sleeping bags, and non-prepared food. Don't risk camping more than one night in times when the spring might be dry. It was also extremely windy at the camp site. I got by with a kid's sized tent for $10 from Walmart. Light and small and didn't tear up in the wind, amazingly. Items we didn't secure really well blew off our packs and out of our reach as we returned up to the rim. The only shade are short juniper trees at the camp site, but there is some shade. It felt 20 to 30 degrees warmer on Horseshoe Mesa compared to the rim. The wind only made it hotter. The top half of the trail has rock walls and taller pine trees intermittently for shade.

Did this hike at the end of April. Road getting out was pretty serious. Definitely need some ground clearance. We were expecting to pay $25 bucks to on the Havasupai reservation but nobody was at the gate so we just went through. Great views at the trailhead. As should be expected, the trail is steep with lots of loose rock. Very easy to slip. Took 4 liters going down and cached 2 at the edge of the esplanade. Also had a filter to refill at the river. We camped at the river on a nice little beach. Had packed an inflatable raft to cross to the north side which we did (had to put in about a 1/4 mile down river to avoid some rapids). Explored the north side a bit before heading up river and crossing back to the south. My garmin recorded almost 8 miles to the river. Left at 4am to hike out and caught sun on the first climb and the esplanade. Lots of good shade on the second climb. It was a good hike with great views. I think it took us 3-4 hr going down and 6-7 going up (with an hour break at the esplanade).

walking
27 days ago

Beautiful introduction to Grand Canyon

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