Grand Canyon/ Shutterstock

Grand Canyon/ Shutterstock

The 16 Best Grand Canyon Hikes in South Rim


grand canyon south rim tour map

With so many iconic viewpoints dotting Grand Canyon’s South Rim, it can be easy to forget that some of the best views are hidden away along its intimate trails. Break away from the crowds and experience the wonder of the Grand Canyon along its winding paths and secluded vistas.

Elevate your experience by hiking along the canyon rim, admiring the strata of delicate pinks, creams, and oranges as California condors circle below you. Take a hike down into the canyon's beating heart, losing yourself in the sheer cliffs that surround you.

Whether your idea of a perfect hike is an accessible, leisurely stroll around the rim, or winding your way down cliffside switchbacks, Grand Canyon has something for everyone. 

Check out our list of the top 16 hikes of the Grand Canyon South Rim

1. Bright Angel Trail

man walking along a trail with the grand canyon overlookMichael Quinn, National Park Service, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

  • Distance: 15.6 miles (roundtrip)
  • Elevations: 4,478 ft loss/gain
  • Duration: 1-2 days (10-14 hours roundtrip)
  • Difficulty: Strenuous

Bright Angel Trail is the most popular trail on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, and for good reason. Along with its convenient starting point, this trail is well-maintained and is considered by many to be a great introduction to inner-canyon hikes with 4-foot wide paths and an average slope of only 10 percent. Don’t let that fool you, though! This hike is still a strenuous 15.6-mile round-trip adventure. 

For hikers who don’t have time to explore its entirety, there are several excellent stopping and turnaround points along the way. 

2. South Kaibab Trail

canyon overview at sunsetMather point / Image from Shutterstock

  • Distance: 13 miles (roundtrip) 
  • Elevation: 4,872 ft loss/gain
  • Duration: 1-2 days (10-14 hours (roundtrip)
  • Difficulty: Strenuous

The South Kaibab Trail begins at Yaki Point Road, off of Desert View Drive. Because the trail is so popular, there is no parking at the trailhead. Start your adventure by parking your car at Grand Canyon View Information Plaza, over by Mather Point, and riding the Kaibab (orange) Shuttle. Alternatively, you can park in Grand Canyon Village and catch the Hiker’s Express Shuttle.

This hike is the quickest way to the Colorado River and Phantom Ranch, but it is also the steepest. This route, like the Bright Angel Trail, is broad and well-kept.

A journey to and from the riverbank entails 13.8 miles of severe switchbacks with an average gradient of over 13%. There are numerous fantastic possible turn-around points.

3. Rim Trail

trail with the overlook of grand canyonImage from Flickr by Grand Canyon National Park

  • Distance: 13 miles (one-way, can return by shuttle or walk)
  • Elevation: negligible gain/loss
  • Duration: 6 hours (one-way)
  • Difficulty: Easy

A must-see for every visitor to the South Rim, the Rim Trail winds along the edge of the canyon and offers breathtaking views throughout. This trek is perfect for anybody with mobility concerns because it is smooth, level, and generally handicap-accessible. After a long day, use this walk in the afternoon to relax and enjoy the sunset views. 

While the Rim Trail starts at the South Kaibab trailhead and goes all the way to Hermit's Rest, you’re free to hop on and off as you like. For a short highlight walk, we recommend you join the Rim Trail at Yavapai Point and walk a little under 2 miles to Grand Canyon Village.

This section includes the Trail of Time, an interpretive trail detailing the layers of the canyon and its history. Then, catch the village shuttle back to your car to continue driving through the park. 

Water and restrooms can be found both at Grand Canyon Village and at Hermit’s Rest.

4. River Trail

long metal bridge above a riverImage from Flickr by Grand Canyon National Park

  • Distance: 1.7 miles (one-way)
  • Elevation: negligible gain/loss
  • Duration: 1 hour (one-way)
  • Difficulty: Easy/ Moderate

River Trail, also known as Bridge Loop, connects the Silver Bridge of Bright Angel Trail to the black bridge of South Kaibab. This connector trail is a great option for those who want to hike from the rim to the river one way, but back up another. 

5. Plateau Point

overview of valley with river belowImage from Flickr by Grand Canyon National Park

  • Distance: 3 miles (roundtrip)
  • Elevation: negligible gain/loss
  • Duration: 3 hours (roundtrip)
  • Difficulty: Moderate

To join Plateau Point Trail, follow the Bright Angel Trail down to Indian Garden (a distance of 4.5 miles) and then veer left. A lovely plateau overlooking the Colorado River, and maybe the pinnacle of your Grand Canyon walks, can be found here.

If day-hiking from Bright Angel Trail, this is the farthest recommended stop. While it’s always tempting to see what’s around the next bend, don’t underestimate the level of fitness required for the hike back up. For more information on Bright Angel Trail, check out our guide.

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6. Dripping Springs

valley overviewDripping Springs to Hermit Trail/ Image from Flickr by Grand Canyon National Park

  • Distance: 6.2 miles (roundtrip from Hermit’s Rest),
  • Elevation: 1,500 ft loss/gain,
  • Duration: 3 hours (roundtrip)
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Dripping Springs Trail veers off from Hermit Trail about 1 ½  miles from Hermit’s Rest. After another 1 ¼ hikers will see a sign labeling the fork to Boucher Trail. Continue along the Dripping Springs path for another ½ mile to reach the springs. At the base of the cliff, water drips down the top of the alcove along sparkling ferns and mosses. Be sure to treat the water before drinking, as it is not considered potable as-is.

7. Grandview Trail

canyon overviewGrandview Point / Grand Canyon National Park, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

  • Distance: 12 miles (roundtrip, looping)
  • Elevation: 3,937 ft loss/gain
  • Duration: 8-11 hours (roundtrip)
  • Difficulty: Strenuous

The trail begins at Grandview Point on Desert View Drive. Built in 1893 as a mining route, this historic trail is considered one of the more difficult hikes on the South Rim and includes several stops. The first viewpoint, and the only one recommended for a casual day hike, is Coconico Saddle, at 1.1 miles down (one-way).

Other points (all one-way) include:

  • Horseshoe Mesa at 3 miles
  • Page Spring at 3.7 miles
  • Cottonwood Creek at 4.5 miles

This trail is a loop 12.5-mile loop with several branches connecting to the Tonto Trail. Please check the NPS map and speak to a ranger before setting out.

8. Hermit Trail - including Shoshone Trail, Santa Maria Springs

overview of grand canyonImage from Flickr by 

  • Distance: 19.4 miles (roundtrip)
  • Elevation: 5,059 ft loss/gain
  • Duration: 1-2 full days (roundtrip)
  • Difficulty: Strenuous

Behind Hermit’s Rest lies one of the canyon’s spectacular rim-to-river trails. As with all rim-to-river trails, exercise caution and anticipate the return taking nearly twice as long as the decent. The stops recommended for day hikes (all roundtrip distances) are:

  • Waldron Basin at 3 miles
  • Santa Maria Spring at 5 miles
  • Dripping Spring Junction at 7 miles
  • Breezy Point at 11 miles

For those hikers who are camping with a permit, they’ll see Tonto Trail Junction (14 mi roundtrip), and Hermit Creek (16.4 mi roundtrip) before finishing at the Colorado River rapids. Be sure to check out the historic Hermit’s Campground along the way, just shy of eight miles in.

This trail also connects to Boucher Trail, at about 2.75 miles in. Although hikers pass several Springs, all water in the Grand Canyon must be purified before drinking.

9. Waldron Trail

trail junctionWaldron Junction/ Image from Flickr by Grand Canyon National Park

  • Distance: 5 miles (roundtrip from Hermit’s Rest)
  • Elevation: 2,300 ft loss/gain
  • Duration: 4-6 hours (roundtrip)
  • Difficulty: Strenuous

This short 2-mile trail forks off Hermit Trail after 1.2 miles. For those seeking to explore the Waldron-Hermit Basin, this is a less strenuous and somewhat shaded alternative to the Hermit Trail. This is a favorite day-hike for those in the know, as it’s short, offers stunning views, and is uncrowded.

10. Shoshone Trail

  • Distance: 2.1 miles (roundtrip)
  • Elevation: negligible elevation 
  • Duration: 1-2 hours (roundtrip)
  • Difficulty: Easy

Blissfully uncrowded, this is a great trail for exploring the upper rim without the crowds. If arriving from South Entrance Road, park at the unmarked dirt lot at Shoshone Point, about a quarter-mile past Yaki Point Road.  

Hikers on Shoshone Trail will pass primitive toilets and a picnic area available before emerging out onto views overlooking the Desert View Watchtower and North Rim. Please respect groups in the picnic area, as it is one of the few sites in the park where private events can be held.

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But that’s not all! Check out these other great South Rim hikes.

11. Tonto Trail

canyon overlookImage from Flickr by Grand Canyon National Park

  • Distance: 95 miles (one-way)
  • Elevation: negligible elevation 
  • Duration: 5-6 days (one-way)
  • Difficulty: Moderate

This unmaintained wilderness trail winding across the Tonto Plateau is the longest in the Grand Canyon. It begins in New Hance in Red Rock and concludes in Elves Chasm in Garnet Canyon, following along the Colorado River. Most hikers will only walk part-way as part of their Rim to River expeditions, often as a connection between Hermit Trail and Bright Angel.

For information on all the stops and watering holes along the Tonto Trail, check out the NPS guide or speak with a park ranger.

12. New Hance Trail

  • Distance: 13 miles (roundtrip)
  • Elevation: 4,400 ft loss/gain
  • Duration: 1-2 days (10-14 hours roundtrip)
  • Difficulty: Strenuous

Are you up for a real test of endurance? Many people consider the primitive New Hance Trail (also known as Red Canyon Trail) to be one of the most challenging paths on the South Rim. This hike is a wild experience that demands climbing, planning, and a solid sense of direction and tenacity.

It is named after the first European American to establish at the Grand Canyon, Captain John Hance. As with all primitive trails, talk to a ranger and check the NPS guide for more information.

13. South Bass Trail

overlook grand canyon from south bass trailImage from Flickr by 

  • Distance: 12.5 miles (roundtrip) 
  • Elevation: 4,366 ft loss/gain
  • Duration: 1-2 days (10-14 hours roundtrip)
  • Difficulty: Strenuous

Follow in the footsteps of this land’s original inhabitants, the Havasupai and Cohonina. Named after famous canyoneer William Bass and built by Native Americans, this trail winds down narrow cliff ledges to finish at a river beach.

To reach the trailhead, hikers need a high-clearance vehicle and must travel about 90 minutes down either Rowe Well Road or Forest Service Road #328.  

For more information on this primitive trail, check the NPS guide.

14. Tanner Trail

canyon overlookView from Lipan Point / Image from Shutterstock

  • Distance: 16.9 miles (roundtrip)
  • Elevation: 5,482 ft loss/gain
  • Duration: 2-3 days (roundtrip)
  • Difficulty: Strenuous

Located just off Desert View Drive at Lipan Point, this unmaintained trail has been used for centuries, first by native people, and then by miners. The exposed supergroup formations are one of the most remarkable aspects of this rim-to-river descent.

Tanner Canyon Saddle, 1.5 miles in, and the Palisades of the Desert, 3.5 miles in, are two locations accessible by day hikers. Be aware that this trail is narrow and often overgrown, particularly between The Palisades and the river.

To find out more about this primitive trail, speak with a ranger and check the NPS Guide.

15. Boucher Trail

  • Distance: 17.7 miles (roundtrip, from Hermit’s Rest)
  • Elevation: 5,626 ft loss/gain
  • Duration: 2-3 days (roundtrip)
  • Difficulty: Strenuous

Named after the legendary Grand Canyon Hermit, Louis Boucher, this trail separates from Hermit Trail at just about 2.75 miles in, at the intersection below Dripping Springs. While the rewards are epic, the difficulty is intense— in fact, it may be the most difficult trail on all of the South Rim.

Along this route, hikers will have to find their way along washed-away paths, scramble over rocks, and carefully descend down gradients higher than 25%. Trail highlights include:

  • Yuma Point, at 2.5 miles
  • Redwall, at 4.9 miles
  • Boucher Creek, at 6.6 miles from the Boucher Junction

Check the NPS guide for more details.

16. Beamer Trail

river in grand canyon desertImage from Flickr by 

  • Distance: 30.8 miles (roundtrip from Lipan)
  • Elevation: 7,585 ft loss/gain
  • Duration: 3-5 days (roundtrip)
  • Difficulty: Strenuous

Beamer Trail begins at Tanner Trail’s end, at the confluence of the main and Little Colorado Rivers. From here, the Beamer Trail travels upstream, passing along the area known as famous explorer John Powell’s “Great Unknown.”

It’s just shy of 3 miles from Tanner Beach to Palisades Creek, and another 6.2 miles from Palisades to the Little Colorado.

For details on each stop, please speak with a ranger and check the NPS guide.

We hope that we’ve given you all the information you need to make the most of your day. Your vacation is extremely important to us so if you have any questions feel free to reach out at aloha@shakaguide.com.

For more detailed information to help you plan, check out our Grand Canyon South Rim Itinerary and Know Before You Go article.

Are you rearing to get on the trail? Explore the canyon with our Grand Canyon South Rim Tour!

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