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The 7 Best Grand Canyon Hikes

Avoid the summer heat and hoards of tourists – visit the Grand Canyon during early fall, the perfect time of year to hike the canyon’s numerous trails.

Bright Angel Trail – A 9.2 mile strenuous roundtrip (with a 3,000-foot return climb) to Indian Garden, an oasis in the middle of the desert with a natural spring . Water is available from the trans-canyon pipeline at the Mile-and-a-half Resthouse, the Three Mile Resthouse, and Indian Garden.

South Kaibab Trail - A less crowded alternative to the Bright Angel Trail, its easiest day hike is the 1.8 mile very strenuous roundtrip to Ooh-Aah Point (named for the response it elicits) 600 feet below the rim. The trail is only accessible by shuttle bus. Unlike the Bright Angel Trail, there is virtually no shade on the South Kaibab Trail. A good option is to take the Kaibab Trail down into the canyon, and the Bright Angel Trail on the way up.

Rim Trail – The only completely level trail on the South Rim, Rim Trail is a 12 mile hike on a mostly paved road with spectacular, unrestricted views of the canyon. With numerous shuttle stops along the route, hikers can choose which areas to explore. Hopi Point and the nearby Mohave Point are perfect vistas to watch the desert sunset cloak the canyon in vibrant shades of red and orange.

Hermit Trail – A rocky 4.5 mile strenuous roundtrip with 1,760 foot return elevation gain, this unmaintained trail is best for moderately experienced hikers seeking a more secluded trek into the Canyon. Once you get to Hermit Creek the hike will seem well worth it as you swim in natural pools carved into the rock by cascading waterfalls. Other highlights include an abandoned cable car approximately 3,000 feet above Hermit Camp.

Grandview Trail – An unmaintained, strenuous 6.4-mile roundtrip with 2,500-foot return elevation gain leads you to outstanding views from wooded Horseshoe Mesa. Though Grandview Trail is unmaintained, the original cobblestones from the mining days are still intact in many areas. Horseshoe Mesa provides great exploration opportunities at the Cave of Domes, which is actually a collection of caves.

Widforss Trail – Hikers have the option to do a 10 mile roundtrip hike all the way to Widforss Point, or a shorter 5 mile hike. The Widforss Trail has many shaded parts through the forest and though it is level for the most part, there are several steep uphill and downhill sections making it suited for moderately experienced hikers.

Ken Patrick Trail - The Ken Patrick Trail takes you 10 miles (one way) to Point Imperial. At 8,803 feet, Point Imperial is the highest point on either rim of the Grand Canyon and the perfect place to view the Painted Desert. This trail can be difficult to follow at times, so continue in the same direction until the trail picks up again.

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