Whether you embark on a short walk or trek several miles through Grand Canyon National Park, you will be impressed by the diverse landscapes of this awe-inspiring natural wonder. The average day hike lasts between four and six hours, depending on your group’s stamina and how much time you spend sightseeing. These hikes cover about three to six miles on a round-trip adventure, and also usually include several thousands of feet in elevation changes. As for nearby accommodations, there are an abundance of incredible Grand Canyon vacation rentals to choose from. Check out the eight best day hikes at Grand Canyon National Park.
1. Bright Angel Trail
The safest and most popular trail from the South Rim of Grand Canyon, Bright Angel Trail begins just west of Bright Angel Lodge. To reach the trailhead, board the free shuttle bus at the Grand Canyon Visitor Center, located within easy access of various Grand Canyon vacation rentals. The trail features a series of switchbacks along the first four miles along a steep grade, with covered rest houses located every 1.5 miles where hikers access drinking water and restroom facilities. When hiking with young children, hiking to the first rest house and back is a 3-mile round-trip that takes about an hour. During cool weather, hiking to the 3-mile rest house or continuing another 3 miles to Plateau Point gives you a great experience in hiking below the rim. Remember that the steep climb back up takes a lot of stamina, which means it is essential to stay hydrated. When the weather is hot, shorter hikes are better.
2. North Kaibab Trail
To reach the North Kaibab trailhead, use the parking area two miles north of the Grand Canyon Lodge from the main road. This trail shares a parking area with Ken Patrick Trail and Uncle Jim Trail. Follow the directional signs to the trailhead. A 1.5-mile round-trip hike to Coconino Overlook is a reasonable hike for younger kids. A 4-mile round-trip hike to Supai Tunnel shows you the canyon’s sweeping vistas and rich colors. Only experienced hikers in good condition continue the extremely strenuous hike to Roaring Springs and back. The 9.4-mile round trip takes you 3,050 feet below the canyon rim, and it takes a whole day to complete the trek. Experts recommend beginning your hike by 7 a.m. Expect to share the trail with mules.
3. South Kaibab Trail
Located on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, South Kaibab trailhead begins south of Yaki Point. Ride the shuttle bus to reach this trail. This trail is wider than other trails in the park, making it a good choice for new hikers. Hiking this trail with kids on the 3-mile round-trip hike on the 1,100-foot descent along the switchbacks helps you see the canyon’s majesty. It passes through Ooh Aah Point, which gives you the best photo opportunities on the trail. At Cedar Ridge, 1.5 miles down the trail, you find pit toilets. Skeleton Point, 3 miles from the rim, is the longest recommended distance for a day hike. The trail runs steeply in places, there’s no water and very little shade. The upper section of the trail faces north, which means it receives very little sunlight in winter and early spring, creating potentially icy conditions.
4. Hermit Trail
Dropping almost 2,000 feet in the first 2.5 miles, the Hermit Trail begins 500 feet west of Hermits Rest. Park Ranger services include junior Ranger Adventure Hike for kids between ages nine to 14 and their parents. A Ranger meets hikers at Hermits Rest and leads the group on a 1.5-mile round-trip hike on this trail. Santa Maria Spring, 2.5 miles down the trail, contains year-round spring water that you must purify for human consumption. Wear hiking boots, and plan your hiking day outside the hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. to avoid the tough conditions on this trail during the heat of the day.
5. Cliff Springs Trail
The Cliff Springs Trail begins across the road from a small pullout on a curve, just .3 miles from Cape Royal. Allow about an hour when you take the kids on this easy trail that runs just 1.4 miles out and back. It gently winds through a forested ravine, ending at a large boulder beneath a broad overhang. Look for the spring beside the boulder, but do not drink the water. Alert the kids to watch for Native American ruins and pictographs left by the canyon’s primitive dwellers.
6. Grandview Trail
Grandview Trail begins at Grandview Point on Desert View Drive, about a 25-minute drive from Grand Canyon Village. One of the steepest trails in the canyon, Grandview requires an awareness that the conditions are tougher than the Bright Angel and South Kaibab Trails–narrow in places, rocky, and not maintained. The trail’s width provides safe passage, but it flanks some extremely dizzying, sheer drops. Two day trips include the 2.2-miles round-trip to Coconino Saddle and the 6.4-miles round-trip to Horseshoe Mesa. There’s no water available on the trail, so take at least 3 liters per person.
7. Transept Trail
An easy, family-friendly trail along the North Rim of the canyon, Transept Trail begins just north of the North Rim Campground. It runs along the canyon rim, connecting the Visitor Center and the Lodge with the North Rim Campground. This peaceful hike through Ponderosa Pines and Aspens takes about 90 minutes to complete the 3-miles round-trip. While it isn’t a finished surface, the trail doesn’t include any scary drop-offs or difficult terrain, making it a pleasant walk.
8. Bridle Trail
The Bridle Trail gives you a good place to begin a family hike at the log shelter on the east side of the North Kaibab Trail parking area. Look for the directional sign on the north side of the shelter. Take advantage of the restrooms, water station, and free ice machines behind the Visitor Center before embarking on your day hike. This hard-packed trail round-trip distance of 3.2 miles accommodates hikers and bikers. Take Fido along to kick up his paws as long as he stays on his leash.
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