Bright Angel Trail Out-and-Back
ElevationAscent: 4,366' 1,331 m
Descent: -4,367' -1,331 m
High: 6,825' 2,080 m
Low: 2,458' 749 m
GradeAvg Grade: 10% (6°)
Max Grade: 38% (21°)
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“A bucket-list hike from the rim of the Grand Canyon to the Colorado River and back.”— Jason Doedderlein
Amazing views are the order of the day.
Beware, however, as this is no easy task. The combination of mileage, elevation gain (and loss), and heat can do a number on even the strongest hiker.
This trail is one of the most crowded trails in one of the most popular national parks. Leaving early eliminates most of the masses on the way down and they tend to not venture too far from the rim, so you'll only have to deal with them the last couple of miles on the way up.
The Bright Angel Trail is considered the parks premier trail. It's well maintained, graded for stock, with regular drinking water and covered rest-houses, and is without question the safest trail in Grand Canyon National Park. There is a ranger station located at the trails halfway point (Indian Garden) and one at the bottom of the canyon (Bright Angel Campground). Visitors hiking for the first time at Grand Canyon often use this trail in conjunction with the South Kaibab Trail. Particularly during hot weather, it makes sense to ascend via the Bright Angel Trail because of potable water, regular shade, emergency phones, and the ranger presence.
You'll do that quickly as Bright Angel Trail quickly drops from the rim toward the river that caused this wonder; the Colorado River.
The trail is obvious and there are not many connecting trails. Additionally, the signage is always clear. Simply continue to plummet and remember to enjoy the views.
Around mile four (half way down), the trail begins to flatten as it approaches Indian Gardens. Here there is camping and water. Clearly this is quite the oasis compared to the parched and rocky red earth the trail began on.
After Indian Gardens, the descent begins anew. Follow the trail until you get close to the river. Bright Angel will continue above the river to the right to a bridge that can be taken to complete the Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim epic hike. However, for this route, I simply broke off of the trail, found my way to the Colorado River to cool off, enjoy the views, and fear the 6000+ ft climb back to the rim.
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Family Friendly, ADA Accessible, Flora & Fauna
Land Manager: National Park Service - Grand Canyon National Park