Planning a trip to the canyon? Check out these tips for picking which Grand Canyon trails are best for you.
Heads up– this is part of a Hiking the Grand Canyon series! Read more Grand Canyon hiking tips here: Hiking the Grand Canyon, Training to Hike the Grand Canyon, Hiking Food Ideas, + Camping Inside the Grand Canyon.
Which Grand Canyon Trails are Best?
There are a lot of trails inside the canyon, but only a few are well traveled.
The 3 corridor trails are the Bright Angel Trail and the South Kaibab Trail on the South Rim, and the North Kaibab Trail on the North Rim.
Most visitors go to the South Rim of the Canyon.
The North Rim is less crowded, but it’s closed longer for winter, and has fewer park services available. (It’s also a 5 hour drive from the South Rim.)
Want to learn about other trails? I love this book: Official Guide to Hiking the Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon Trails: Day Hikes
(No Permit Required)
Pick one of the designated Day Hike spots on either the Bright Angel or South Kaibab trails. (These spots are clearly marked on trail maps and at the trail heads.)
Do not go past the designated day hike end points, and keep track of the time as you hike. Plan on it taking twice as long to come up as it did to go down.
If you’re hiking when it’s warm, try to avoid being on the trail between 10am and 3pm.
Be prepared– our day hike on the South Kaibab was one of the hardest hikes I’ve ever done.
Grand Canyon Trails: Rim to River Hikes
From the South Rim, you can either take the South Kaibab Trail or the Bright Angel Trail.
The South Kaibab Trail offers sweeping, breathtaking views of the canyon. At 6.8 miles long, it’s considerably shorter than the 9.1 mile Bright Angel Trail. It’s also steeper, has no shade, and no water.
The Bright Angel Trail is longer, winds through green valleys within the canyon, and has several water options.
The most popular Rim to River route is to go down the South Kaibab Trail, and back up the Bright Angel Trail. This is the route we took, and it worked well.
Rim to River hikes still require you to hike all the way back out of the canyon, but you’re only hiking to one of the two canyon rims.
Grand Canyon Trails: Rim to Rim Hikes (+ Rim to Rim to Rim)
The other popular hike through the Grand Canyon is a Rim to Rim.
This involves hiking from the top of the South Rim (either on the Bright Angel or South Kaibab), all the way to the Colorado River, and then up the North Kaibab Trail to the North Rim of the canyon.
Or vice versa.
A Rim to Rim to Rim hike is where you then turn around and hike all the way back to the South Rim.