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Bright Angel Trail

Difficult
 4.8 (58)

Run 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

76%

Runnable

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

Runner Notes

This trail is nicely graded, but it does drop nearly 4,500' over its course. That's 4,500' you'll have to gain to get back out... Bring your climbing legs!!

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. Runners 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 58 votes

#2

in South Rim

#15

Overall
  4.8 from 58 votes
5 Star
83%
4 Star
17%
3 Star
0%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Trail Rankings

#2

in South Rim

#3

in Arizona

#15

Overall
78 Views Last Month
14,156 Since May 12, 2015
Difficult

0%
0%
12%
2%
86%
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
Running up Bright Angel Trail
May 11, 2015 near Grand C…, AZ

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Weather


Current Trail Conditions

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All Clear 18 days ago See History
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Check-Ins

Jan 9, 2021
Sydney Kydney
Some ice at the top, but manageable without crampons. Just move carefully.
Oct 18, 2020
Hendrik H
Jul 15, 2020
Christian Bennett
Great hike down, brutal in the heat coming back up. Phenomenal views throughout the hike. Would recommend! Just bring lots of fluids and snacks — 2h 00m
Mar 28, 2019
Paul Adams
15.2mi — 4h 45m
Nov 9, 2018
Amber Hardesty
Apr 28, 2018
Kaylee M
9.2mi
Aug 15, 2017
Justin Barauskas
great temperature 3mi