There are many Grand Canyon hikes available for hikers of all levels. Beginners can stroll through paved trails along the rims for breathtaking views. There are also flat-terrain trails that hikers can explore through the forest and lead into broad vistas of the canyon. More experienced hikers venture way down into the vast and dynamic landscape to gaze up at the dramatic beauty of the canyon’s towering walls.
These hikes are typically more strenuous and consist of steep, rugged desert trails. Nonetheless, there is a hike for everyone who visits the pristine natural wonder. Find out why the Grand Canyon is one of the most popular hiking destinations in the world. Below are some of the best Grand Canyon hikes for an epic adventure in the Southwest.
Grand Canyon Rim to Rim Hike
A Grand Canyon rim to rim hike is on many hikers’ bucket lists when visiting the natural phenomenon. However, this hike isn’t exactly a walk in the park. The 21 to 23.5-mile trek that takes adventurers from one side of the canyon to the other and back can be very grueling. But for those who are prepared, it can be one of the most thrilling and rewarding experiences.
There are many different ways to complete the rim-to-rim journey, including various routes to choose from. Hikers can begin at the South Rim at Bright Angel or South Kaibab trailhead. Or they can start at the North Rim at North Kaibab trailhead. There’s the option of completing the entire round-trip journey or taking a shuttle service back.
Some space out the strenuous hike over the course of a few days, others are experienced enough to complete the hike in just one. There are also many Grand Canyon hiking tours that can ensure a hiker’s first-time experience is a safe one.
Grand Canyon South Rim Hikes
There are numerous Grand Canyon South Rim hikes to choose from. You can hike the rim for incredible views of the inner canyon or you can venture off into the canyon itself. The great thing about the South Rim is that it is easily accessible and open all-year round. Below you will find some of the top hikes.
South Rim Trail
If you are looking for easy Grand Canyon hikes, this is the trail for everyone. In fact, much of its length is wheelchair and stroller accessible. The South Rim is mostly paved and runs for 13 miles from South Kaibab to Hermit’s rest. As you can expect, it is one of the more crowded trails. This is primarily due to the magnificent views you encounter along the way.
Bright Angel Trail
The Bright Angel trail is a popular trail that leads down to the canyon river. However, day hikers usually stop at Plateau Point, Indian Gardens or Phantom Ranch and then head back up. Day hikes can be up to 12 miles round trip. The trailhead is located near Kolb studio in the Grand Canyon Village. There are several water stations on the way down.
South Kaibab Trail
Located at Yaki Point near the Grand Canyon Visitor Center, the South Kaibab trail is a bit more challenging. The trail is very steep and directly descends down to the Colorado River. However, there are various route options to shorten the trail. Many of these day hikes range up to 12 miles round trip. The trail provides little to no shade and no access to water, so make sure you come prepared. You can only access the trailhead by shuttle bus.
Travel through Hermit trail Grand Canyon to Santa Maria Springs on a 4.5 mile round trip. Go a bit further on a 6.5 mile round trip to Dripping Springs. The strenuous hike all the way down to the Colorado River isn’t ideal for a day hike. So if you are planning on doing the entire trek, a stay at Hermit Creek Campground is recommended. The unmaintained trail is very steep and is best for more experienced hikers. Hiking boots are definitely needed.
The Grandview trail is one of the best Grand Canyon hikes for amazing scenery of the South Rim. You can embark on a 2 mile round trip to Coconino Saddle or a 6.4 mile round trip to the wondrous Horseshoe Mesa. The unmaintained trail is much more difficult than the Bright Angel and South Kaibab trails due to its extreme steepness.
Grand Canyon North Rim Hikes
If you are looking to escape the crowds of the South Rim, then consider one of the many Grand Canyon North Rim hikes. The other side of the canyon is much less congested and has many options for short and easy day hikes. Keep in mind that the North Rim is only open May through October due to its high elevation and cold temperatures.
North Kaibab Trail
The North Kaibab trail is the most popular hike of the North Rim. From Supai Tunnel to the Roaring Springs, this trail can lead you to many beautiful destinations with outstanding views and majestic wild flowers to appreciate along the way. While a short hike to Coconino Overlook is 1.5 miles, a hike to Roaring Springs can take a full day. The hike to the canyon’s largest spring is rated as difficult, but definitely worth it if you are an experienced hiker.
Fun fact: The Roaring Springs is a vital water source for the Grand Canyon Village and its visitors.
Cliff Springs Trail
Cliff Springs trail will show you a glimpse of the lives of the Grand Canyon’s original inhabitants. If you are looking for easy Grand Canyon hikes, then consider this less-traveled hike. You will descend into a side canyon with spectacular overhanging rocks to find ancient Native American ruins and pictographs, as well as remarkable views of the main canyon.
This Grand Canyon hike consists of mainly flat terrain, making it a good trail for children. Travel through an open ponderosa pine forest that leads you to striking views the eastern Grand Canyon, including Jupiter Temple and Vishnu Temple. It takes approximately two hours to complete the entire trail round trip.
Pass through an area burned in the 2000 Outlet Fire and explore the ecology of fire through the Point Imperial trail. Amongst easy Grand Canyon hikes, this four mile trail is the highest rim overlook in the park at an elevation of 8,803 feet. You can capture a remarkable panoramic view of Mt. Hayden, Marble Canyon and the Vermilion Cliffs.
For varied scenery of the forest and canyon, trek through the Widforss Trail on an approximately six hour hike. These Grand Canyon trails will lead you through an enchanting pine woodland and bring you to a grand view at the canyon’s edge. From the trail’s end, look out into the distance for Wotan’s Throne and the Zoroaster temples. On a clear day, you can catch a view of the San Francisco Peaks.