Exploring the Grand Canyon’s hiking trails

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Grand Canyon's Top Hiking Trails

With all of the lookout points, bus tours, and even helicopter tours, the Grand Canyon provides a plethora of options for taking in its abundant beautiful views. But, to really experience the Grand Canyon, you need to go deeper than just viewing, and really explore the depths of the canyon on-foot. You’ll have more fun and make more discoveries if everyone is comfortable within their ability levels. So, here are some great Grand Canyon hiking trails for different abilities:

Day hikes

Grand Canyon Hiking Trails: South Rim

Rim Trail – Source: Flickr

The most popular day hike trails can be found in the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. If you’re looking for a less-populated trek, head to the North Rim. But, remember to do so in the summer! The North Rim closes during the winter months.

Rim Trail

Beginner hikers

While there aren’t any easy trails in the Grand Canyon, the Rim Trail is certainly the most level trail that can be found here. This trail stretches for 12 miles, and the majority of the trail itself is paved and handicap accessible. The Rim Trail is great for a leisurely stroll while enjoying magnificent views of the inner canyon.

South Kaibab Trail

Grand Canyon: South Kaibab Trails

South Kaibab Trail – Source: Flickr

Beginner hikers

Taking a hike down the South Kaibab Trail rewards you with the most impressive views of all the Grand Canyon. On this trail, you’ll traverse through literally billions of years of geology and enjoy incredible views of the Colorado River. The trail itself is maintained by park service, but is quite steep and provides very little shade.

Bright Angel Trail

Grand Canyon Hiking: Bright Angel Trail

Bright Angel Trail – Source: Flickr

Beginner to intermediate hikers

The Bright Angel Trail is another trail that can be scaled by the novice hiker. It’s partially shaded, 12 mile roundtrip, is classified by the park as a “corridor trail.” The distinction means that Bright Angel receives regular maintenance, and is regularly patrolled by park rangers.

Hermit Trail

Grand Canyon Hiking: Hermit Trail

Hermit Trail – Source: Flickr

Intermediate to advanced hikers

The Hermit Trail is significantly more difficult to trek than the Bright Angel and South Kaibab Trails, but it’s unmaintained, steep paths lure experience hikers time and time again. The trail began as an Indian route, and it’s weaving path across creeks and boulders keeps hikers on their toes.

Grandview Trail

Grand Canyon Hiking: Grandview Trail

Source: Flickr

Intermediate to advanced hikers

Experienced hikers should look no further than the Grandview Trail for their Grand Canyon adventure. This steep, unmaintained trail serves up some of the toughest conditions in the South Rim. Explore the old copper mine located 4 miles from the beginning of the trail, and travel just 1 mile further to splash in Cottonwood Creek.

Rim-to-rim hikes

Grand Canyon Hiking: Guided Tours

Source: Flickr

If you’re looking for a longer hiking adventure, check out the rim-to-rim hikes in the Grand Canyon. Beginning hikers and campers should opt for a guided tour. Many tours are offered and can be found at any of the Grand Canyon Visitor’s Centers. But, if this isn’t your first hiking trip, book a Grand Canyon hotel room at the south or north rim and here’s what you should prepare for if you’re hiking rim-to-rim without a guide.

Grand Canyon Hiking: Ribbon Falls

Ribbon Falls – Source: Flickr

Expected time and daily miles

Some advanced hikers pride themselves on hiking rim-to-rim in a single day. Beyond bragging rights, what this actually gives hikers is a rushed and exhausting Grand Canyon experience. By cutting down your daily miles, you’ll get to slow down and really enjoy the beauty that surrounds you here. If you plan for a 4-day rim-to-rim hike, each day’s hike won’t be much more than 6 miles. This way, you’ll really get to spend time at each of the wonders along the trails, like Ribbon Falls, Phantom Ranch, and Plateau Point.

Hiking safety

Before you embark on your Grand Canyon hike, it’s imperative that you know the basics of hiking safety. The National Park Service outlines several tips that every hiker needs to remember:

  • Know your abilities and choose an appropriate hike.
  • Travel as light as possible; carry less!
  • Don’t huff and puff, if you can talk while you are walking, you’re going the perfect speed.
  • Take at least one 10 minute break every hour.
  • Allot twice as much time to ascend as it took you to descend the canyon. Hiking uphill is tough.
  • Remember that mules have the right of way.

Regardless of whether you’re planning a day hike or an overnight camping trip, there are no easy trails in or out of the Grand Canyon. Never attempt to hike from rim to river and back in one day, and always know the limits of yourself and every member of your party. So, fuel up beforehand with restaurants near the Grand Canyon and bring your reusable water container and comfortable shoes to prepare yourself for the adventure of a lifetime.

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