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Bright Angel Trail

Difficult
 4.8 (66)

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 both the Mile-and-a-Half Resthouse and the 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 with improvements by Eric Jackson

Trail Ratings

  4.8 from 66 votes

#2

in South Rim

#15

Overall
  4.8 from 66 votes
5 Star
85%
4 Star
15%
3 Star
0%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Trail Rankings

#2

in South Rim

#3

in Arizona

#15

Overall
52 Views Last Month
15,162 Since May 12, 2015
Difficult

0%
0%
12%
4%
84%
0%

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
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
This trail is STEEP!
Apr 7, 2015 near Grand C…, AZ

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Check-Ins

Nov 26, 2022
Haden Smith
9mi
Sep 21, 2022
Tom Herr
Went up Phantom Ranch with intermittent rain. Dave vomited at Indian Gardens and it went slow after that. Saw raccoon near the top. 8.1mi
Jun 9, 2022
Cameron Booth
Indian Garden up to trailhead with a 4:30am start to beat the forecast 100°F heat. 5.7mi — 3h 40m
Jun 8, 2022
Cameron Booth
Indian Garden down to Pipe Creek Beach and back up again. You gotta be early to beat the sun in the Devil's Corkscrew! 7.6mi — 4h 13m
May 26, 2022
Edge
Not terribly steep, but the last 3+ miles are a continuous uphill slog. 9mi — 6h 00m
May 21, 2022
Austin Wand
Apr 4, 2022
Curt Kulczycki
Mar 18, 2022
Jean Straughn