Grand Canyon South Rim Day Hikes
Day Hiking Grand Canyon’s South Rim
Grand Canyon South Rim Day Hikes
There are numerous Grand Canyon day hiking options from the South Rim of Grand Canyon, hiring a guide service is not required by the park and many Grand Canyon trails are easy to navigate, populated and well maintained. Below is a list of trails suitable for a day hike for any level of hiker. Click on each trail name to download a printable trail description from Grand Canyon National Park Service, providing information regarding elevations, distances and other essential details. Permits are not required to day hike in Grand Canyon so a great option if you were unable to plan ahead. And do be aware that there are no easy trails to hike below the rim of Grand Canyon.
The Rim Trail starts near the Kolb Studio in the Grand Canyon Village and continues for nearly 12 miles until reaching Hermits Rest. But you don’t have to hike the entire distance to experience all the grand views the canyon has to offer. The Rim Trail hike follows the South Rim along some of the most amazing viewpoints and panoramas to be seen anywhere in the canyon. Plus, there are shuttle stops at various points along the route, so you can hike between shuttle stops or to the next stop and catch the shuttle at many of the stops along the trail. The longest stretch between shuttle stops is almost 3 miles, but the majority of shuttle stops are around .5 to 1 mile long.
The Bright Angel Trail is the most used and popular trail from the South Rim of Grand Canyon. It offers many good destinations and is easily accessible from Grand Canyon Village. Rest houses are placed at every 1.5 miles from the rim to Indian Garden with water and shade for those warmer days of hiking and provide a good point of reference for turning around – remember, hiking down is optional, hiking out is mandatory – and in the Summer months, hiking only to the 1.5 mile rest house before turning around is a good option. But during the cooler months, day hiking to the 3 mile rest house, Indian Garden (4.5 miles one way) or Plateau Point (6 miles one way) will provide any Grand Canyon day hiker ample opportunity to get a feel for hiking in Grand Canyon.
The South Kaibab Trail is also a very popular South Rim trail, but steeper than Bright Angel Trail. Access to the trailhead is only by the free Grand Canyon shuttle bus from the Mather Point Visitor Center. Day hike options range in distance up to 12 miles (round trip) from a short .8 mile (one way) hike to Ooh Aah Point for some amazing views after a very short hike. Go a bit further to Cedar Ridge for even more views (and a toilet) only 1.5 miles one way. Cedar Ridge is a great place for a snack break or lunch but beware of the squirrels. Or, venture even further to Skeleton Point for your first view of the Colorado River – still about 2,500 ft below. The South Kaibab Trail offers the best views for a relatively short hike, but it is a steep trail with no water except at the trail head, and little shade.
The Hermit Trail offers hikes to Santa Maria Springs, 4.5 miles (round trip), and Dripping Spring, 6.5 miles (round trip). Trail conditions are tougher than the Bright Angel and South Kaibab trails as they are narrower in many places and used by fewer Grand Canyon hikers. Hermit Trail is an unmaintained, steep trail which means a rockier trail that requires more attention and caution for footing and trail navigation. The trail begins 500 feet west of Hermits Rest and is accessible by the Hermit shuttle. There is water at the trail head but any water from the spring must be treated before drinking. There is some shade along the trail and best for hikers with prior Grand Canyon or desert hiking experience or with a guide.
The Grandview Trail is one of the steepest and exposed in the canyon but is named appropriately – the views are grand! Hike to Coconino Saddle – a 2 mile round trip hike, or to Horseshoe Mesa – a 6.4 mile round trip hike, with an overall 2,600 ft change in elevation over the 3.2 miles from rim to the mesa. If hiking to the mesa is your goal, make sure you save time to explore Cave of the Domes, hike to the western arm of the mesa for amazing views into the inner canyon and the Colorado River below, and to check out the history left behind from the copper mining occurring in the late 1800s. Trail conditions are tougher than the Bright Angel and South Kaibab trails – steep, unmaintained, narrow in places and rocky. There is no water on this trail, nor is there water at the trail head, so be prepared with at least 3 liters of water. There is no public transportation to the Grandview Trail. While this is a good trail to hike on your own, a guide does come in handy to teach the history of the trail and help cave explorers find Cave of the Domes.