12 Best Day Hikes in Grand Canyon National Park

Everyone has heard of the Grand Canyon, seen its pictures, or flown over it, but only those that visit in person know what it is really like. The beauty of the canyon must be witnessed first hand at least one time in your life! The trip will last with you forever as it is impossible to forget the immense beauty that this park offers. Most people come to the Grand Canyon to drive to one of the many overlooks along the South Rim before returning home. However, the hikes below are where you really get to appreciate the beauty on a deeper level. I have broken the best hikes in Grand Canyon between the North and South Rim to make it easier to plan your next trip. Although the South Rim is open all year round, the North Rim is seasonal and is typically only open from March to October each year. As with all hikes in the southwest US, temperatures and conditions can get dangerous so bring plenty of water and plan ahead! Official Website.

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South Rim

1. Bright Angel Trail

One of the most popular hikes in Grand Canyon National Park, this trail is a must-do for any hiker out there! Leaving early will allow you to miss most of the crowd as you head your way down from the rim. The views throughout this trail are what make this such a special hike and why it is the best hike in the park. Similar to South Kaibab Trail, there are many locations to turn around. If you are looking for an out and back day hike, consider heading to 3 Mile Resthouse. A trip to Bright Angel Campground and back should not be completed in 1 day. The trailhead can be found just west of Bright Angel Lodge.

  • 6.0 miles – Out and back
  • 2050′ gain
  • Strenuous

2. South Kaibab Trail

A steep dirt trail, South Kaibab takes hikers from the ridgeline down into the canyon the quickest way possible. There are several spots to turn around including: Ooh-Aah Point (1.8 miles RT), Cedar Ridge (3 miles RT), and Skeleton Point (info below). This route can also be taken for those adventurous enough to do the Rim-to-Rim Trail. For those that wish to combine this with Bright Angel to make a loop back up to the South Rim, plan on hiking 7 miles to Bright Angel Campground. You can set up shop there for the night before heading back up the more gradual Bright Angel Trail. Do not attempt to hike from the rim to the river and back in 1 day! The trailhead is accessed by shuttle bus only, beginning just south of Yaki Point.

  • 6.0 miles – Out and back
  • 2050′ gain
  • Strenuous

3. Rim Trail 

Excellent paved trail with relatively little elevation gain that gives visitors a chance to stop off at any of the many viewpoints along the South Rim. Regardless if you do not want to hike the entire trail, at least some section should be completed on your visit! Plan out your hike and utilize the shuttle service so you don’t have to retrace your steps – this is one of the best hikes in Grand Canyon National Park. The trailhead can be found near South Kaibab Trail or you can start from one of the shuttle stops between there and Hermits Rest.

  • 12.2 miles – One way
  • 200′ gain
  • Moderate

4. Shoshone Point Trail

Maybe the best part about this beautiful trail is that it is quick and easy enough for the whole family to enjoy. The viewpoint of the eastern Grand Canyon area at the end makes it all worthwhile. Even further on is the ‘point’ where there is a large standing rock that has one of the best overlooks into the canyon of anywhere else in the park. The trailhead is 3 miles east of the visitor center off of Desert View Drive.

  • 2.1 miles – Out and back
  • 150′ gain
  • Easy

5. Hermit Trail

This hike descends on a steep and rocky trail down into the Grand Canyon. Backpackers have the option of continuing all the way to the Colorado River but Santa Maria Spring makes for a good turn around point for day hikers. Water runs at the spring year round but must be treated before consuming. A shuttle is required to reach the trailhead from March to the end of November. The trailhead is located 7 miles west of the Village.

  • 4.4 miles – Out and back
  • 1700′ gain
  • Strenuous

6. Grandview Trail

Rocky with steep drop-offs, Grandview Trail is another solid South Rim hike. The trail is not maintained and is held together in some areas by logs and steel rods making it difficult to traverse. The views however are phenomenal around every turn on your way to Horseshoe Mesa. The trailhead is located 12 miles easy of the Village on Desert View Drive.

  • 6.0 miles – Out and back
  • 2500′ gain
  • Strenuous

 

North Rim

1. North Kaibab Trail

This is the only maintained trail into the canyon from the North Rim. The initial section is very steep and makes for a challenge why you head back up. The best destination for day hikers is a Roaring Springs where water pours from the cliffs to form Bright Angel Creek. This hike will take about 8 hours to finish so plan ahead! The trailhead is located next to a parking area off of Grand Canyon Highway, 2 miles north of the visitor center.

  • 9.4 miles – Out and back
  • 3050′ gain
  • Strenuous

 

2. Widforss Trail

This trail has a nice mix of shaded forest and open canyon scenery with plenty of picturesque steps along the way. One of the best hikes in Grand Canyon to see wildlife as you walk through the trees. Stunning views of the canyon appear as you approach Widforss Point. The trailhead is 1 mile down a dirt road turnoff just south of Cape Royal Road.

  • 9.8 miles – Out and back
  • 1000′ gain
  • Moderate

 

3. Cape Royal Trail

Simple trail out in a peninsula of the North Rim that presents incredible panorama views of the canyon. Don’t forget to take in the Angels Window view that frames the Colorado River for a fantastic shot. This is a popular trail for both sunrise and sunset. The trailhead begins at the southeast side of the Cape Royal parking area.

  • 0.8 miles – Out and back
  • No elevation gain
  • Easy

 

4. Bright Angel Point Trail

One of the best viewpoints along the North Rim is at the end of this short hike to Bright Angel Point. The paved trail is family friendly and has some of the best photo opportunities in the park. The trailhead is just south of the visitor center which means it is crowded most of the day.

  • 0.5 miles – Out and back
  • 100′ gain
  • Easy

 

5. Transept Trail

Another great hike that skirts the edge of the North Rim from the North Rim Campground to the Grand Canyon Lodge. Continuing past the lodge, hikers have the chance to add on Bright Angel Point Trail. Unlike many of the other hikes in this national park, the aspens and ponderosa pines provide a little bit of shade on the trail. The trailhead can be accessed just north of the campground off of Grand Canyon Highway.

  • 3.0 miles – Out and back
  • 250′ gain
  • Easy

 

6. Cape Final Trail  

Family-friendly hike with beautiful view of the canyon. After passing through a shaded forest near the trailhead there are several viewpoints at rock outcroppings along your way. The trailhead is located near a parking area off of Cape Royal Drive.

  • 4.0 miles – Out and back
  • 450′ gain
  • Easy

 

 

 

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