Hiking the Bright Angel Trail within the Grand Canyon – Bearfoot Theory


The Grand Canyon is among the most-visited National Parks within the United States, however solely about 1% of tourists really go under the rim. If you wish to expertise the Grand Canyon from under, the Bright Angel Trail is among the finest – and hottest – day hikes and entry level for first-time guests to this wonderful National Park.

In this put up, we share every thing it’s essential learn about doing a day hike on the Bright Angel Trail so you know the way to arrange and what to anticipate.

Bright Angel Trail Basics

These stats are for the Bright Angel Trail to Indian Garden. The path does proceed on previous Indian Garden all the best way all the way down to the Colorado River, however it’s essential be ready with numerous water, solar safety, and meals. Do not hike previous Indian Garden in the summertime when temps are sometimes 100F+.

  • Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Trail Type: Out-and-back
  • Length: 8.9 miles
  • Starting Elevation: 6,860 ft.
  • Minimum Elevation: 3,800 ft
  • Total elevation achieve: 3,034 ft
  • Dogs allowed: No
  • Time: 5-6 hours, when taking ample breaks
  • Permit required: No
Bright Angel Trail Map
Source: Grand Canyon Conservancy

Best Time of Year to Hike the Bright Angel Trail

Fall and spring are the most effective occasions of yr to go to the Grand Canyon and hike the Bright Angel Trail. Temperatures are cooler and crowds are usually smaller (though the Grand Canyon isn’t quiet).

I don’t advocate mountain climbing the Bright Angel Trail in the summertime as temperatures can simply high 100 levels and mountain climbing in these situations may be harmful. The path has little or no shade and mountain climbing in the summertime can result in warmth exhaustion.

Winter can be time to go to for those who’re dressed for cold climate and verify the forecast for snow and rain.

Views out over the Grand Canyon National Park with a dusting of snow
The Grand Canyon is gorgeous with a dusting of snow

Getting to the Trailhead

The Bright Angel Trailhead is positioned on the South Rim simply west of the Bright Angel Lodge within the Grand Canyon Village.

If you’re staying within the park, the free blue-line park shuttle stops instantly on the trailhead.

For these visiting for the day or preferring driving themselves, hikers can park on the Backcountry Information Center (car parking zone D), a brief stroll from the Bright Angel Trailhead.

A Brief History

The Bright Angel Trail has been used for lots of of years as a technique to entry water at Indian Gardens. It’s named for the Bright Angel Fault, which offers a jagged break within the shear cliff partitions that in any other case forestall entry all the way down to the canyon flooring.

In the 1800s, gold prospectors arrived within the space and located the native Havasupai already utilizing the route from the rim to the canyon flooring the place they planted crops close to Indian Creek.

View of Bright Angel Trail from above with Grand Canyon landscape in background
The view of the Bright Angel Trail from above

In the Eighteen Nineties, miner and entrepreneur Ralph Cameron realized that with the arrival of the railroad to the Grand Canyon, tourism was going to be an even bigger enterprise than mining. He ‘registered’ the Bright Angel Trail and made enhancements to the route. He additionally arrange a campground at Indian Garden and charged guests $1 to make use of the path.

Cameron fought to maintain his declare on this space even after the Grand Canyon was designated a National Park in 1919. He misplaced the battle in 1928 and was pressured at hand over the path and campground to the Parks Service.

The native Havasupai had been those who misplaced probably the most, although. They had been ordered to depart by Theodore Roosevelt in 1901. Those who stayed had been ultimately pushed out in 1928 and compelled onto a reservation in Havasu Canyon.

In 1975, after many negotiations, the federal government created the Havasupai Indian Reservation, which is taken into account probably the most distant group within the decrease 48 States. It’s additionally the place guests can expertise the unbelievable Havasu Falls.

Trail Milestones

The Bright Angel Trail can simply be damaged down into smaller chunks or milestones. If you propose on mountain climbing all the best way to Indian Garden, these milestones might help you gauge distance in addition to assist you preserve tabs on the way you’re doing with water.

1st Switchback – Mile 0.5

The first switchback is the beginning of a sequence of switchbacks that descend down the canyon partitions of Grand Canyon National Park. From right here, the path loses fairly a little bit of elevation in a short time. There are additionally steep drop-offs on the aspect of the path, so individuals who don’t like publicity might wish to cease right here.

View of Grand Canyon from Bright Angel Trail
There is main publicity on some sections of the Bright Angel Trail

1.5 Mile Resthouse – Mile 1.5

The 1.5 Mile Resthouse is a fundamental stone construction with no facilities (seasonal water could also be accessible). It gives nice views out over the Canyon and is a good turn-around spot in order for you a shorter hike.

3 Mile Resthouse – Mile 3

A second resthouse is positioned at mile three. Again, there aren’t any facilities other than seasonal water on the three-mile resthouse. The path will get even steeper from right here, so it is a good place to show round for those who’re fearful in regards to the hike again up.

Indian Garden

Indian Garden is a little bit oasis within the Grand Canyon desert panorama. A perennial creek runs by means of this space, which supplied water for Native Americans who lived within the canyon for 1000’s of years. Today, Indian Gardens is dwelling to a ranger station, a small guests heart, and the Indian Garden Campground (also referred to as the Havasupai Garden Campground).

If you wish to spend the evening, you’ll have to safe a hard-to-get in a single day tenting allow earlier than your hike.

Plateau Point

About a mile and a half previous Indian Gardens through Plateau Point path is Plateau Point, a powerful overlook down onto the Colorado River. If you do that as a day hike, Plateau Point is 12 miles spherical journey with 3,740 ft of elevation achieve. It’s really helpful to solely do that hike in the course of the cooler spring, fall, and winter months.

The Bright Angel Trail continues on previous Indian Gardens all the way down to the Colorado River the place hikers can cross the river over the Bright Angel Suspension Bridge. Across the river, the path turns into the North Kaibob Trail, which continues on to Bright Angel Campground, Phantom Ranch (a country lodge), and ultimately the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

Tips For Hiking the Bright Angel Trail

Be ready

For anybody contemplating mountain climbing the Bright Angel Trail to Indian Garden, you could, should, MUST deliver water and sufficient meals to provide you for the 9-mile round-trip hike. The path is uncovered so even be ready with ample solar safety.

The hazard of this path lies in its easygoing begin. Unlike ascending a mountain the place the issue is straight away obvious, this hike descends down right into a canyon. That means the straightforward half comes first, fooling hikers into believing they will go farther and longer than they will really handle in a day.

Arrive on the trailhead earlier than 8am with a hydration day pack filled with water and loads of salty snacks.

Hiker on Bright Angel Trail in Grand Canyon National Park

Know your water sources

There is all the time water accessible on the Bright Angel trailhead. There might be alongside the path seasonally from May-September, however water will not be all the time assured. It’s higher to return absolutely ready with not less than 3 liters of water per particular person. There is a river that runs by means of Indian Gardens so we additionally advocate packing a light-weight water filter simply in case.

The chart under reveals the place water could also be accessible seasonally:

Chart showing mileage, elevation stats, and water availability on the Bright Angel Trail in the Grand Canyon
Source: National Park Service

Practice good path etiquette

Please do not forget that uphill hikers have the precise of approach.

You additionally may even see mule visitors. If a bunch of mules is closing in on you, the park service advises you to step off the path on the uphill aspect away from the sting, observe the path of the wrangler, stay quiet and nonetheless, and don’t return to the path till the final mule is 50 ft (15 meters) previous your place. Essentially, give the mules area, and everybody might be secure and joyful.

>> Read subsequent: Trail Etiquette 101

Train of mules descending steep trail in Grand Canyon National Park with steep cliff walls on left side
Give mules and their handlers loads of area to go

Bright Angel Trail Packing List

For a full checklist of what to pack, try our put up on Day Hiking Essentials.

The most important items of drugs you’ll need for mountain climbing the Bright Angel Trail embody:

  • A daypack with a 3L hydration reservoir. If you come low season, you may contemplate bringing a water filter simply in case potable water isn’t accessible.
  • A solar hat – I all the time put on the Wallaroo Sedona Hat (BFT readers get 20% off with the code “BEARFOOT20”)
  • Plenty of sunscreen
  • A buff – soak it within the creek at Indian Garden earlier than mountain climbing again up the path. It will preserve you cool and protect your neck from the solar.
  • Lots of snacks – for concepts, try our put up on the most effective mountain climbing snacks.
  • Collapsible trekking poles – these assist relieve pressure in your knees if you are descending and assist distribute the work and your weight on the uphill.
  • Solid mountain climbing sneakers – I like to recommend mountain climbing boots with ankle help and a grippy sole to offer extra stability on the steep sections.

Related posts:

Have you hiked the Bright Angel Trail within the Grand Canyon? What was your expertise like? What ideas would you add? Leave a remark under!

Learn everything you need to know about hiking Bright Angel Trail to Indian Garden and get some of the best views in the Grand Canyon.

Written by
Kristen Bor

Hey there! My title is Kristen, and that is my out of doors weblog. I found the facility of the outside in my 20s, on the time I wanted it most. Now 15 years later, prioritizing that vital reference to nature continues to enhance my life. My aim at Bearfoot Theory is to empower you with the instruments and recommendation it’s essential responsibly get outdoors.


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