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Discover the Best Grand Canyon Hiking Trails

Updated on September 23, 2014

Focus on the Grand Canyon Trails that Matter

Arizona's biggest natural attraction has all kinds of trails available to hikers, but how do you narrow your search down to theĀ best Grand Canyon hiking trails? Join in our journey as we help hikers of all skill levels form a picture of their ideal trail and pick their top choices. We will highlight Grand Canyon trails that aren't as well-known but possess unique qualities that are missed by highly-traveled trails. Discover beauty along the south rim and the less-traveled north rim as we enter the vastness of one of the seven natural wonders of the world!

Havasu Falls
Havasu Falls

The Grand Canyon's Best Hiking Trails

Grand Canyon trails give birth to an outdoor atmosphere that cannot be matched in any other setting. Plummeting as far as 6,000 feet to the rocky floor and spanning for 277 miles, the canyon is an incredible site for anyone to see, whether they enjoy the outdoors or not.

The importance of preparation for an adventure in the Grand Canyon cannot be overstated. Appreciation for each canyon path and the wildlife and plant life that accompanies it will skyrocket once you have carefully researched your top trails. At first the search can seem overwhelming, which is why you need to ask yourself several questions to narrow your trip down to the Grand Canyon's best hiking trails.

Questions to Answer Before Hiking the Grand Canyon

  • What kind of temperatures do I prefer during outdoor excursions, and do I have the necessary camping and hiking equipment for my preferences?
  • Do I enjoy a lesson in archeaology or nature more?
  • What outside scenery thrills me more, unique rock or large forests?
  • Do I have experience in camping in an environment without fires, and would I be comfortable camping in the Grand Canyon?
  • Am I content with two or three types of scenery, or am I looking for more?
  • What is the length of time I want to stay in the Grand Canyon?
  • How would I describe myself as a hiker?
  • Beginner: 5 miles
  • Intermediate: 6-10 miles
  • Expert: 10+ miles

Many other questions remain to be answered, but these are the most important give you insight into a good hiking philosophy. You want to find the best hiking trails, not mediocre trails to suit your skillsets and tastes. One could argue that all Grand Canyon trails are equally "epic," but not every trail is suited to individuals' tastes. Let me introduce you to four trails that will make your hiking vacation more enjoyable.

North Rim: Cape Final Trail

The forests of the north rim will remain your constant companion throughout your hike along this easy four-mile roundtrip trail. For those that answered "beginner" to their level of expertise in hiking, Cape Final presents a great opportunity for beautiful visuals in a less challenging environment. However, bring your water bottle or reservoir, as this trail offers no clean water at any point. If you keep an eye out you may spot some of the north rim's distinguishing wildlife, including wild turkeys and the North Kaibab squirrel. Keep plodding along and you'll eventually find one of the largest scenic outlooks in this part of the canyon, revealing its eastern edge.

North Rim: North Kaibab Trail

The north rim has far less visitors to it each year than the south rim - approximately 90% less visitors. So it's fair to say no matter what time of year you hike the North Kaibab trail, you will have a relatively quiet trip. If you decide to do the whole trail, take plenty of supplies, as it's 28 miles roundtrip. Wind your way through the vast Kaibab forest, with plenty of breaks along the rim to discover a new view of the canyon you've never seen before. Winter and autumn bring temperatures below zero on a regular basis, so pack warm camping equipment if you're traveling during these months. The Uncle Jim Trail and Ken Patrick Trail meet at the North Kaibab trailhead, and each one has a lot to offer if you're interested in a valuable day hike. If you plan hiking the North Kaibab, treat it as a marathon and don't pack too heavy; the path is filled with numerous hills and valleys.

South Rim: Havasupai Hiking Trail

Few people have heard of this trail along the south rim, which makes it that much more of a hidden beauty, like a hidden treasure cove. As one of the best hiking trails, Havasupai stretches eight miles in from Hualapai Hilltop where you'll park. Walk along looming canyon walls and discover Supai village, an old town with many Americans Indians. Observe but don't meddle - they're not overly friendly and enjoy their minimalistic way of living. After making your way through the village, you'll find the first of a series of three waterfalls. The water looks too pure to be real (bright bluish green), but it owes its beauty to a high mineral content. Most hikers spend a good deal of time at each waterfall, soaking it all in - Havasu Falls, Mooney Falls and Beaver Falls are their names. You'll find your campsite two miles past the village (10 miles from the trailhead). Although you can continue for many miles past your campsite to reach Colorado River, it's probably not worth the journey. You'll have access to clean water once you reach the campsite. Psych yourself up for the exit journey: It's all uphill, and the last mile is hell.

South Rim: Hermit Hiking Trail

Finally, step foot on a trail linked to a rich history, first founded in the 1900's. The Santa Fe Railroad continued to maintain Hermit until the 30's, when it moved on to other ventures. The challenge of Hermit lies behind steep walkways, pulling the hiker down for 2.5 miles - you'll drop 2,000 feet within that distance. The campsite is many hikers' ultimate destination, and it sits about seven miles from the start. Walk past the gentle flow of Santa Maria Springs a few miles in, a good place for a break. Keep both eyes on the path in front of you as you come to the Cathedral Stairs, pulling you into a steeper decline than before. From turn to turn, you'll step through miles of the deep, canyon ravine, enjoying the unique rock structures that have fallen into place over thousands of years. Finally, look for where Tonto Trail joins Hermit Trail, as you'll follow that to the Hermit Creek campsite.

As some of the best hiking trails in the Grand Canyon, these are highly recommended, although you might discover you have a few of your own favorites. Don't skip out on researching your own trails, as it will add great depth to your experience.

Great Grand Canyon Hiking Trail Resources

Finding the best hiking spots doesn't have to be a chore - now or when you arrive. Select from several of the most thorough and great reads including maps and descriptions of the top Grand Canyon trails!

Uncover the Best Grand Canyon Hiking Trails

Find the best sites of information on the Grand Canyon and the trails that matter. The top trails in the Grand Canyon aren't always easy to navigate, but these sites provide great details on the types of weather, scenery and challenges to expect from the trails you're interested in.

eBay's Best picks for Grand Canyon Trails

If you enjoy a good deal on Grand Canyon maps, trail information and other great hiking data to make your vacation great, check out some of these products on eBay before they auction them off! Bid today and prepare for an adventure in the Grand Canyon.

Hikers, tell us of your own adventures in the Grand Canyon, and what were your favorite trails? We'd love to hear from you!

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