Distracted from the breathtaking colors below by a silence-piercing raven's caw, it's time for a momentary deep breath, a swig from the water bottle and the music of canyon wrens echoing in the quiet. Sweeping the panorama, it's impossible to take in the depth, majesty and spirit of the moment on a fall hike in the Grand Canyon. The best part is that the crowds have thinned, and this trail is yours for the day.
The Rim Trail
Step by step, the canyon views change on the nine-mile Rim Trail. Meandering on a level route from Grand Canyon Village to Hermit's Rest, the trail is paved to Maricopa Point. With a gentle 500-foot west-to-east drop, the Rim Trail is one of the easiest day hikes at the Grand Canyon. Hugging the 3,000-foot-deep Abyss, five sweeping view overlooks put you on the edge of the Canyon wall.
Hermit Trail to Santa Maria Springs
Dropping steeply, the five mile Hermit Trail round trip takes in westward views unseen elsewhere in the Canyon. The 2.5 miles from the trailhead to Santa Maria Springs drops very steeply by more than 1,700 feet. The trail is steep and rocky. After switchbacks on the route into Hermit Canyon, it is a combination of long traverses and short descents to the Springs across the Supai wall.
Bright Angel Trail to Plateau Point
Hike up to 12 miles round trip on popular Bright Angel Trail. At 3,000 feet below the Canyon rim, Plateau Point is the recommended day hike destination. Bright Angel Trail is well maintained and hikers share it with the mule riders. The segment drops 1,000 steep sloping feet to "Mile-and-a-Half Resthouse." Dramatic views at Plateau Point are the breathtaking destination and its three-mile round-trip detour often lures river-bound hikers.
South Kaibab Trail to Cedar Ridge
Shuttle free from Grand Canyon Village to Yaki Point or use the Rim Trail for a 1.5 mile warm-up from Mather Point. From the trailhead, this steep 3-mile round-trip hike drops 700 feet with zigzags and switchbacks to Cedar Ridge. One of the most popular day hikes in the park the well-maintained trail allows a good pace to deep-canyon views of the Cheops Pyramid and Isis Temple formations.
Fall Hiking Safety
Weather conditions can change drastically in a matter of moments at the canyon. Temperatures near the Colorado River are often 20 to 30 degrees higher than the rim. Dress in layers and protect from hypothermia; be sure clothing is waterproof and remember hat and gloves. Carry both plain water and fluids with electrolyte replacements. Even in cool weather, dehydration is a risk. For a day hike, carry flashlights and spare batteries in case dusk or darkness arrive before leaving the trail. In addition to a trail first aid kit, carrying a whistle or signal mirror---even on corridor trails---is a wise precaution in case of emergency.
Article Written By Eric Jay Toll
Eric Jay Toll has been writing since 1970, influenced by his active lifestyle. An outdoorsman, businessman, planner and travel writer, Toll's work appears in travel guides for the Navajo Nation, "TIME" and "Planning" magazines and on various websites. He studied broadcast marketing and management at Southern Illinois University.