Sixtymile - Grand Canyon Trails

Grand Canyon Trails

A brief list of the official trails and popular routes in order of increasing difficulty (a highly subjective judgment.)

The best guidebook currently in print for general hiking on the popular trail system seems to be Hiking Grand Canyon National Park, a FalconGuide book by Ron Adkison. This basic trail guide covers all of the "trails" listed below in considerable detail (maybe a little more detail than I care for), but does not include the two "routes" listed.

There are no bad trails in Grand Canyon but there are trail distances and conditions that people may not be adequately prepared for and this can result in a bad experience. No amount of study and planning is likely to give a sufficient impression of the difficulties to be encountered in Grand Canyon hiking. Starting with a basic guidebook like this and working through a progression of more difficult hikes is recommended before attempting any of the off-trail routes (see also NPS Standard Trail/Route Notes). In addition to official sources there are many trip reports and photo-sets available on the internet.

Havasu Trail - From Hualapai Hilltop to Supai Village. Easy walking and less elevation than most Grand Canyon trails and with the attraction of spectacular waterfalls. Supai Village is a residential community so this is not wilderness.

Bright Angel Trail - From Grand Canyon Village to Phantom Ranch. The easiest way to reach the river because of the good trail and available water. Bright Angel Campground and Phantom Ranch are also rather civilized places.

South Kaibab Trail - From Yaki Point to Phantom Ranch. Shorter and steeper than Bright Angel; the grade is almost constant all the way. A broad, maintained trail but no water.

North Kaibab Trail - Connecting the North Rim with Phantom Ranch. A well maintained trail with good water supplies and improved camping. Greater distance and elevation than trails on the south.

Grandview Trail - From Grandview Point to Horseshoe Mesa. Easy because of the short distance to campsites on the mesa. Water access requires a difficult excursion to Page Spring; the trail west into Cottonwood Creek is easier. This trail does not reach the river.

Hermit Trail - From Hermit Rest to Hermit Canyon. Accessible, direct, pleasant and with good water sources. Hermit Rapid is easily reached and a most impressive sight.

Clear Creek Trail - Inner canyon from Phantom Ranch to the Clear Creek area. Easy hiking and a pleasant destination but a long distance.

South Bass Trail - From Pasture Wash to Bass Canyon. Remote trailhead. A fairly direct route to the river, but with limited water sources.

Thunder River Trail - From Indian Hollow to Thunder River and Tapeats Creek. Also goes to Deer Creek. Easy hiking but longer distance to river. The Bill Hall Trail offers an option to Thunder River that is a lot steeper and somewhat shorter.

Tanner Trail - From Lipan Point at the east end of the rim drive to Tanner Canyon. Great views, but quite long and unforgiving with no water sources.

Red Canyon (New Hance) Trail - From Red Canyon Rim to Hance Rapid. In rather poor condition from erosion but fairly direct access.

Tonto Trail - Inner canyon from Hance Rapid to Garnet Canyon. Parts of the Tonto are easy and frequently traveled. Other parts are remote and indistinct. Other info: Tonto Platform and West Tonto Summary

Boucher Trail - From Dripping Spring to Boucher Canyon. Remote access and upper section in poor condition; Hermit Rest is the alternate trailhead. Steep and washed-out sections create some difficulties but no serious obstacles.

Beamer Trail - Inner canyon from Tanner Rapid to the Little Colorado River. A rugged track that gets regular use but is not really a trail.

North Bass Trail - From Swamp Point at the neck of Powell Plateau to Shimumo Creek. An extremely long trail with some difficult and indistinct sections, but good water sources and a pleasant and rewarding destination.

Escalante Route - Inner canyon from Tanner Rapid to Hance Rapid. Requiring off-trail navigation skills and with a few difficult spots, but excellent landscape variety and interesting geology. The easiest off-trail route. Other info: Escalante Route Summary

Nankoweap Trail - From the Saddle Mountain rim to Nankoweap Creek. The longest and greatest elevation, poor (even hazardous) trail conditions and limited water sources. Other info: Exploration of Nankoweap Canyon

Royal Arch Route - Off-trail from Bass Trail to Elves Chasm, connecting to the Tonto Trail at Garnet Canyon. Requires minor climbing, creekbed descents, pool wading and a rappel. Other info: Royal Arch Route Summary


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