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Bright Angel Trail

Difficult
 4.8 (50)

Hike the park's premier trail all the way from the village to Silver Bridge.


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Map Key

8.1

Miles

13.0

KM

Point to Point

6,821' 2,079 m

High

2,412' 735 m

Low

0' 0 m

Up

4,409' 1,344 m

Down

10%

Avg Grade (6°)

41%

Max Grade (22°)

Dogs No Dogs

Features Birding · River/Creek · Views · Wildlife

Description

While the South Kaibab Trail follows a ridge line, the Bright Angel Trail follows the head of a side canyon. Views on the Bright Angel Trail are framed by massive cliffs, and by virtue of being a shadier trail with natural water sources, there is more plant life and animal life along the Bright Angel Trail than on the South Kaibab Trail. These features make the Bright Angel Trail appealing to those interested in geology and in viewing wildlife.

The majority of this trails elevation change takes place in the upper four miles of trail via a series of switchbacks that can seem endless. Be sure to utilize the resthouses and seasonal water sources along the way (there are composting toilets at Mile-and-a-Half Resthouse, but no toilets at Three-Mile Resthouse). Whether ascending or descending, it is worthwhile to take breaks regularly. Approaching Indian Garden, the trail flattens out considerably as it crosses the shaley and desolate Tonto Platform.

Indian Garden is an oasis in the canyon used by Native Americans up to modern times. Ralph Cameron, one of the early pioneers who built the Bright Angel Trail (and who would later become an Arizona senator), by 1903 had come to an agreement with the resident Havasupai allowing him to build a camp for tourists. He staked mining claims to secure the site, built tent cabins, and planted the enormous cottonwood trees still present today. Hikers camping at Indian Garden should consider the mile and a half side trip to Plateau Point.

Below Indian Garden, the trail follows a creek through a meandering gully of water sculpted stone and shimmering cottonwood trees. The trail becomes steep once again where this gully empties into the broad, bowl-shaped Pipe Creek drainage. This section of trail, affectionately referred to as the Devils Corkscrew, is brutally hot during the summer months and should therefore only be attempted during the early morning or late evening hours. There are no potable water sources between Indian Garden and Bright Angel Campground. A composting toilet is located near the River Resthouse.

From the Pipe Creek/River Resthouse area to Bright Angel Campground, the trail traverses exposed sand dunes for over a mile until reaching the silver bridge across the Colorado River. Again, during hot weather, these sand dunes become a dangerous slog.

Contacts

Shared By:

Brian Smith

Trail Ratings

  4.8 from 50 votes

#2

in South Rim

#13

Overall
  4.8 from 50 votes
5 Star
80%
4 Star
20%
3 Star
0%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Trail Rankings

#2

in South Rim

#3

in Arizona

#13

Overall
147 Views Last Month
12,870 Since May 12, 2015
Difficult

0%
0%
14%
0%
86%
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Photos

Coming down Bright Angel.
Apr 7, 2015 near Grand C…, AZ
Bighorn Sheep crossing the Bright Angel Trail on our way to Plateau Point.
Jun 11, 2016 near Grand C…, AZ
Grand Canyon National Park: Bright Angel Trail - Sunset
Apr 1, 2020 near Grand C…, AZ
This trail is STEEP!
Apr 7, 2015 near Grand C…, AZ
Always satisfying looking back down at Devils Corkscrew after feeling the burn on the way up.
Jun 15, 2018 near Grand C…, AZ
Bright Angle Trail- South Rim
Jan 25, 2016 near Grand C…, AZ

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Check-Ins

Jul 3, 2020
David Ottney
Jun 13, 2020
Zach Pecchia
Mar 21, 2020
Tiffany Dean
Mar 9, 2020
Emilio Ruiz
Hiked up from phantom ranch with 50 pound packs after rafting the upper section of the colorado river. Beautiful but brutal hike — 7h 00m
Feb 28, 2020
Lee Sybert
Down and back to the fork to go to the plateau point. 10mi — 10h 00m
Dec 16, 2019
Erin Andersen
Includes hike from Phantom Ranch to the River Trail to Bright Angel 12.2mi — 7h 32m
Nov 9, 2019
Matt S
6mi — 4h 30m
Nov 2, 2019
Deborah Denzel