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

In late November/early December my grandmother, two cousins, and I hiked Bright Angel Trail. We hiked down, stayed two nights, and hiked back up. My cousins did the extra 14-ish miles to and from Ribbon Falls and speak very highly of it (their pictures are amazing). I was unable to go with them, as they were of better physical ability than I, so I did some small adventuring around Phantom Ranch. On the way back up my grandmother quickly took ill. She became dehydrated, couldn't eat, couldn't get up after we had sat for a break at Indian Gardens (half way), and then began vomiting. One cousin stayed with her while the other and I raced to the top to get help. After a long evening of essentially no communication, we ended up having to go back down ourselves to help get the other two out. We got to the point of having to tie a rope around her waist and pull her up the switchbacks ourselves, but even that proved too much. I ran to the emergency phone at the mile and a half house. We waited there against the face of the canyon, she no longer able to move or stand at that point. We waited for about two hours in the near-freezing temperatures with a bright moon shining onto the Canyon below us and the stars gleaming above us. When the EMT arrived he radioed for another ranger to come down to assist in our emergency, and two of us were sent back up to the top while my grandmother and cousin waited for a helicopter to lift her out of the canyon at dawn.

And despite all of this near-tragedy, I can honestly say hiking Bright Angel Trail was one of the greatest experiences of my life.

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.

Hiked down to Indian Garden and back. Was 100 degrees at Indian Garden so decided not to do Plateau Point. Was first time hiking a canyon and loved it. The last mile out was the easiest of the entire hike. I hate hiking downhill and the sun was setting so the canyon was mostly in shade below the rim. Water was on. Packed 4 liters in and drank 6-7 total.

hard trail, but so worth it.

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!!!

just amazing, did it in the winter and hiked through snow and ice

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 !

Serious hike to the bottom, especially with a 35lb pack. Varied terrain and grade, from sand to jagged rocks and in between. Awesome challenge and rewarding. Phantom Ranch offers a nice respite at the bottom. Be sure to send your loved one a postcard by mule! We finished faster than most at just over 3.5 hours.

Easily two of the most breathtaking trails I've ever had the chance to travel. A few things you should know before starting -- 1. You're in for a huge treat; 2. South Kaibab has very little shade; if you are starting anytime after 10am (unfortunately, I personally couldn't begin until noon and I highly recommend against doing the same), be prepared for a really hot hike, even in late April/early May. On the day I visited, it was an estimated 110F at Phantom Ranch (remember, it gets hotter as you go down), and it definitely felt that way during descent. 3. You need a ton of water AND electrolytes. Do not underestimate the importance of electrolytes; get some dissolvable tablets and put them in your hydropack/water bottles, or bring tons of sport drink. I learned this the hard way and, despite having enough water, definitely suffered from some dehydration complications, to which I was extremely fortunate to have some hikers at Phantom help me out with their tablets. 4. Bright Angel is longer, but has a lesser grade and offers more shade; I would highly suggest using this route for ascent (start early!); 5. I personally highly suggest hiking poles. They will save your knees during descend, and help you a ton during ascent.

These two trails gave an incredible experience that you'll never forget. Less than 1% of the GC's visitors each year actually descend into the Canyon and the Colorado River, and although you'll have to earn every step, there's a whole different world down there waiting to be explored. Be prepared, hike smart, pace yourself, and listen to your body.

Ran down bright angel and up south Kaibab. It is a very hard run especially if you start late (like I did). 96F at the bottom and no water on the way back up South Kaibab. Be prepared and have the right clothing as the sun is brutal. I am lucky enough to have ran in many places around the world but this is definitively in the top 3! AMAZING! Not for everyone but well worth the effort. It took me 4hours and a half for the whole loop and the milage from start to finish at 21.9miles. Enjoy responsibly !

Great trail run to be pushed physically. Start early. We decent run and allowed time for walking the ascent. Know your physical limitations and climbing altitude. I’m fit but ascent and elevation- I know my limits. It’s okay to hike your pace. You still get it done. I brought 64 ounces of water and one Gatorade. Best thing was ibuprofen. Take time to enjoy the view. Bring long shirt for morning and afternoon.

Difficult trail with built in steps. Pretty steep inclines. Legs/knees started tiring at about 5 miles. Would train on stairs for this trail in the future. A great way to see other views of the Canyon for sure. Glad I did it.

Exposed and susceptible to wind gusts so be prepared with sun production.

backpacking
1 month ago

My group of 3 hiked to Hermit Creek in April and camped for two nights before returning. The creek is lovely and we enjoyed lunching by the rapids. The campground is basic, with two composting toilets and a bar for hanging packs. You can quickly access the creek below for water; be sure to use a filter. Hermit Trail is just as tough as advertised. We knew it would be steep and rough. We didn’t expect the areas that felt quite dangerous, as we tried to get over slide areas or sections that has mostly loose rock on the incline. If you are afraid of heights, this isn’t a trail for you. The views are stunning, however, and there is little traffic on the trail. I’m glad I did it, but won’t repeat this adventure.

This was my 1st big hike of the year, I had been training for what I thought would be enough preparation for this big 9 mile hike. Hiking is nothing new to me, but these larger distance hikes are; although, I had been power walking and doing light jogging for 30 minutes 3 to 4 times a week, for 2 months. It was tough the last 2.2 miles of the trail going back up to bright angel trail. My gps said i was keeping a pace on 1.5mph going down and then coming up I was 0.91 mph and then the last couple miles I dropped down to 0.75-0.80, of course I took more breaks going up.

So we began our hike at 6:30 in the morning, and arrived at Indian gardens at 10:30 that same morning, rested and had our lunch, then started our way back up around 11:22 p.m. and after much strenuous pushing, we arrived back to the top of bright angel trailhead and 8pm that evening. This was a challenge for me but I accomplished it, I am not to thrilled with my time but I know with more training I can cut that time down. Now I know to increase my jogging pace a little longer and maybe a little harder and start working out my legs. With that being said, it was a beautiful hike and despite my minor meltdowns, I would do this hike again. For me, there is something about working out with a hike, you make your way to the destination and you have to make your way back, and with treadmill workout or gym workouts, it is so easy and tempting to just stop and not continue.

Going down I drank about 107 oz of water, about 32 oz of that was vitamin water.
Going up 132oz of water.
I ate 1 bag of store bought jerky, one of the smaller bags, and packed myself 3 granola bars and had 2 cans of Vienna sausage, and finished a store bought trail mix, and 2 sneakers. (apologies for the lack of measurement information). keep in mind I ate hearty the night before and hydrated all week, I was averaging about a gallon a day for 5 days before my hike. This is definitely in the books for another hike. I hope my information was helpful.

I am 5' 1'', and 265 lbs. with about 2 months of jogging.

Total time was about 13.5 hrs, about 8 hrs of that was going back up from Indian Gardens to Bright angel trailhead.

It was a beautiful hike, with such vibrant scenery. Majority of the hikers were kind and had good hikers etiquette.

Hardest run I’ve ever done. Ended up clocking 20 miles total in 5:35 from South Kaibib to the bottom in just under 2 hours . Phantom Ranch was a nice leg but the climb back up was rough. I’m a FL runner and not used to the elevation but hammered thru . 3 hours + back up and found out it’s well over the 15.5 claimed. Would be an awesome 2 day hike but unless you are well prepared (nutrition, water , training) don’t try to do in a single day (as many of the signs pointed out)

Started at 5:45am (just before sunrise, so it was nice and cool) and arrived at the river at 7:45am, mostly running down since the grade on the trail was perfect for running. From there I took a half hour break and ate a bunch of food and started my way back up Bright Angel Trail. I arrived at the top at 12:30pm while taking 10-15 minute breaks at each shaded rest site since there was effectively no shade on the way up at that part of the day. Be sure to bring ample supplies and if you havent hiked at this level of difficulty I strongly advise you DONT hike this trail. If you are still interested go to the Backcountry office in the park and ask them for advice about this trail since they will take into account your level of experience and plans for the hike.

I started at 10:40AM at South Kaibab TH. This trail does not offer any shade. I made it to the junction of Black Bridge and River Trail by 1:00PM and I took River Trail as I did not need to resupply my water. Hiking River Trail, I took few pictures and stopped at the river for 5-10 minutes. I started back up at 1:40 PM (from the rest station) and made it up to the top at 5:05PM. it took me 6 hours to complete this trail. Notes: I did not stop for lunch and did not eat anything while hiking except I drank 16 once of gatorade at the bottom of the canyon and at the top, I had a handful of nuts and dry fruit.
The South Kaibab trail does not offer ANY shade in the first part of the day.
Bright Angel is excellent choice for shade in the afternoon. I barely saw the sun on my way up from Canyon to the parking. 90% shade. Perfect between 1:00PM and 5:00PM. I had 64 ounces of water and 32 ounces of gatorade and I did not resupply my water; however, India Garden offered some easy and fast option.
Another note: I soaked my hiking shirt and hat in the water> that kept me cool to the top (3,5hours).
Happy hiking! be safe!

hiking
1 month ago

prepare yourself for a treat. prepare yourself for a challenge. what an awesome trail all around.

I did just the Bright Angel the previous day (till Plateau Point), and the entire hike took me only 6 hours. Based on elevation gain and distance, I calculated South Kaibab - River - Bright Angel trail to take no more than 8 hours. However, lots of Internet reports suggested a minimum of 10-14 hours. In any case, I decided to go ahead and try the hike. A bit of bad luck and really cold morning meant I didn't start until 10:40 AM; the sunset was due at 6:40 PM. So, I had to go for the kill from the word go. I run a lot and recently prepared and ran a Full Marathon, so I was in the peak of my fitness. I like running downhill, and I found it easy to run down in some part of the South Kaibab trail. There were some parts with loose sand where I had to walk but apart from that, I was doing good speed - 1.5 miles in about 25 minutes. So, I reached Cedar Ridge at 11:05, Skeleton Point at 11:30ish, and Tip Off at about 12. There was hardly anyone after Tip Off point but the scenery started getting very pretty, and I got down to the Black Bridge by about 1 PM. I met a few rafters at the beach who were travelling across the Colorado River. Since I was hiking alone, it was good to meet some humans as that place was very desolate. My next goal was to get to Indian Garden by 4PM at the latest, so I kept going at a steady pace. My lunch was just protein bars and nuts, so I could eat them as I hike. After a while on the River Trail, there were those long switchbacks but keeping my motivation high, I could climb them without any issue. After a bit of following the stream, there was a point where there was a huge rock and no clear indication of the trail. Thankfully, once I jumped over the rock, I found the trail back, and it was easy hiking from there to India Garden. I reached there at 3PM, and I knew it would take me 2.5 hours from there to the top since I did this same part the previous day. This is also the hardest part of the hike, and it comes at a time when you are really tired. So, doing the same trail the previous day helped me with the mental confidence. I met several groups on the way up who had started very very early (6AM or so), but they were extremely tired and not in a mental state to hike up. I cheered them up and gave pointers on the remaining route and reached the top at 5:40 PM. In all, it took me only 7 hours. If you really want to do it quick, try to do the Bright Angel hike till India Garden the previous day. It serves as a good practice and also prepares me mentally for the toughest part of the Rim to River hike.

This review is for the tourist:
I did basically this same loop yesterday. I was running. I have a lot of experience. There are others like me who have trained and are experienced that can SAFELY do this or even go further. Most cannot. If you haven’t done something like this before, DON’T DO IT. Most people do this hike over TWO days, for good reason. If you try this in one it will suck and you’ll you put yourself in danger. I saw at least 5 people that I had to make sure were ok. They were NOT prepared. They did NOT have the right nutrition. They did NOT have enough water. They did NOT know what they were in for. I hope you do now! :)

This was the hardest hike I have ever done in my life. There are signs about 1 mile down that say to not to hike down to the Colorado river and back in one day unless you are an experienced hiker. Unfortunately for me, I am not an experienced hiker. However, I am slightly above average. And I did it. By the time I reached Phantom Ranch from the South Kaibab descent, I was starting to feel burn. After a break, I refilled water and started up Bright Angel. Five miles up the trail, I did not want to go any longer. Everything hurt. I was tired. But I had no option but to finish. The last 2.5 miles were the hardest because I was physically and mentally exhausted, and there were loads of switchbacks. I ended up taking frequent breaks and drinking lots of water. Slow and steady wins the race. If you are looking to hike this trail remember that 1. You need to stay hydrated
2. You will have to push yourself
Overall it was absolutely incredible. Amazing scenery and a fantastic experience. Very well worth the pain you will feel the next day.

Have to be prepared and drink extra water laced with electrolytes (Heed or Nuun are two good mixes for water) otherwise dehydration will hit you in the final 3-4 miles. Also, this mileage estimate is incorrect. All my trackers and other maps suggest this is probably 18 miles +

Bucket list hike. South Kaibab to Phantom Ranch is fast and beautiful. Coming back on Bright Angel was great along the creek. Last 3 miles of hike had the most switchbacks I have ever encountered. Not enough sleep the night before and no real hiking since last October made for a painful ascent. But it was best hike of my life so far. The hike is more like 19 miles if you add up the segments of the trails on the official Grand Canyon map.

We hiked up bright angel after coming down via south kaibab

All I can say is this trail broke me I literally thought I couldn’t make it every time I looked up
The elevation gain along with my heavy backpack was enough to make me ache so much. The last 2 hours going up I was about ready to call it a day and sleep on trail lol it was that bad. It also gets pretty cold near the top so bring a jacket easy access

For us it wasn’t icy but still some scary parts of the trail with steep drops. It took us about 7 hours to reach the top from the river and luckily there was lots of shade. The trail before the steep climb was enjoyable and pretty all the way up to about Indian gardens. Don’t think I’ll ever do this one again

We took a free shuttle back to the backcountry permit office

Do yourself the biggest favor ever and bring trekking poles. My knees were in bad shape when we got to the bottom (took about 3 hours) there was a lot of steep drop offs but really pretty views

Lots of families on this trail very popular and super easy to follow
Loved the restroom stops (plug your nose if you go in lol)

Overall good trail..went down this way but going up was another story

Great hike. I left at 6:15am and finished at 3:30 with minimal stops. The last 3 miles are killer. Make sure that you have water receptacles to fill up at every opportunity. My legs and feet are very sore but this is a bucket list type of hike. I also wouldn’t mess around with this trail in high temps. It was 30 degrees when I set off and was in the 70’s down by the river. Enjoy

This must be one of the top ten hikes in the United States. Our group consisted of two college-age kids, three adults aged 47-55, and one octogenarian. We caught the 7am Hiker's Express Shuttle and were on the SK by 7:45 am. While the eldest in our group (yeah, he's 80 and in great shape) took the Tonto crosscut trail to Indian Gardens (total distance SK-Tonto-BA: 13 miles), the rest continued down the SK to the river and lingered in Phantom Ranch for 20 minutes and then another 15 minutes on the beach where the Bright Angel reaches the Colorado. Another break at Indian Garden before the final ascent gave us a total distance of 18 miles (the spur to Phantom Ranch instead of just staying on the River Trail adds a mile or more) which was done in 11 hours. We finished a half hour after sunset with enough light to not need our headlamps and flashlights. There was water at Phantom Ranch and Indian Garden, but to be safe, we each carried a regular-sized water bottle as well as three gallon jugs to replenish as needed. We could have carried a gallon less for our group of six, but preferred to err on the side of caution and as it turns out, gave water to another hiker who had run out. While most prefer to overnight at Phantom Ranch, this is a doable day hike, but only for older adults if they are fit (my wife and I are mid-50s and in marathon training). Whatever your age, do not estimate the difficulty of the final climb up the Bright Angel, however. Your quads and calfs will feel this one and it waits for you until the end of your hike. Bring food, water, headlamps if you have ANY concern about being out after dark, a fire starter and appropriate outer clothing for the season. We started at 38 degrees, experienced mid-70s at the river, and finished in the mid-40s (March 21). Weather couldn't have been better for us and the icy patches at the top of the BA had pretty much melted away during the day. If you are an avid hiker, put this one on your list!

I did this amazing trek on March 17, 2018.
Started at 6:30am and finished almost at 3pm stopping for a short lunch down by Colorado river and some rest at Indian Garden.
I did an acclimating hike down Bright Angel trail the day before just to see what those switchbacks were about. Good physical shape and some mental preparation and great spirit was all needed to complete it without huffing and puffing and enjoy every single moment. Amazing views on every spot of the trail. I got lucky with weather as it was in 60s down in canyon and in high 40s up closer to the rim and clear skies. The next day however it snowed and snowed a lot so that last 2-3 miles were covered in snow. So be prepared for a turn in the weather and have layered clothing, snow chains and trekking poles and plenty of water and snacks. If you did hikes in the mountains before, you can do this one too!
My Garmin Fenix watch clocked over 20 miles and over 4700 elevation gain on the ascent by Bright Angel.
Definitely start as S Kaibab as the trail there is more rugged and you want to go down there not up.
There are restrooms and emergency phones at least in 5 spots on the way.

Adding to my full review below:
We left the S Kaibab trailhead at 630am and took 3.5 hours to reach the silver bridge that crosses Colorado. (We picked up the River Trail heading left when Kaibab had gone right towards the black bridge)

I’ve excluded the time for photo stops, and two restroom breaks.

We stayed at the river/Phantom Ranch for 2 hours and headed back up Bright Angel at 1220. We reached Indian Garden/Tonto East by 3pm.

We finished at 1848. So the trip back up 13 mi took us 6.5 hours including all the breaks. And it was very difficult for the last 3 hours due to altitude.

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