Bright Angel Trail

Grand Canyon, Arizona 86023

Bright Angel Trail

Bright Angel Trail Professional Review and Guide

"In addition to offering the most convenient access to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, the Bright Angel Trail is also one of the most popular hiking routes in the park.

Wide enough to allow safe passage for tourist-toting mules, this is a virtual highway among backcountry trails. Although the Bright Angel Trail ends at the Colorado River, this description continues on to the Silver Bridge and Phantom Ranch a short distance beyond."

Bright Angel Trail Reviews

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Everything about the Grand Canyon is spectacular and this trail is no exception. This is a demanding trail to do the entire length but you can do smaller portions. Bring lots of water and sunscreen - there are water stations along the way but you should be well stocked with a camelback, etc. to be safe as it gets HOT. We started early in the morning to catch the sunrise and beat the heat and it was still tough. But the views are like nothing you can imagine - it's one thing to see a photo of the Grand Canyon and another to actually be there live and in person and experience it. I give this trail 5 stars but one negative is the trail has a lot of pack mules on it so that can slow you down, especially during crowded days.
I reserved a campsite in Indian Garden on the Bright Angel Trail well in advance. I hiked the Tonto Trail over to the Bright Angel , camped one night and went up to the rim the next day. Started at 5 AM to take advantage of shade. Very well graded trail. Lots of people but great views. Made it to the top at 7:50 AM.
Didn't do very much of this trail because we had 2 grumpy kids in tow, but they loved the start--beautiful views down into the valley and a cool arch right off the bat. As others have mentioned there's a lot of mule poop on the trail. It was chilly when we were there but I can see that getting pretty stinky on a hot, summer day. :)
Hiked Bright Angel Trail to Phantom Ranch then back up S. Kaibab Trail. Absolutely beautiful!
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Awesome experience. The 1st 2 weeks of October, everyone is doing rim to rim. About 10 hours South to North on the Kaibab Trails. 10 hours back going North Kaibab to Bright Angel
Hiked from the South Rim trailhead to Indian Gardens and back two days after Christmas with my girlfriend. Stunning hike from the ice and snow into the desert and back. I thought this trail was relatively well maintained, and that the switchbacks made it an easy climb. The only downside was the large number of tourists, but it is the Grand Canyon. My girlfriend thought it was a little harder than I did, but she still thought it was doable. Full disclosure here...both of us are in good shape and regularly hike/run/bike hills in the 2,000-3,000 foot range. The views of the canyon in winter are amazing and cannot be understated. Some of the best views are from Indian Garden looking up the trail, as well as the "standard tourist" views from the rim looking out over the Canyon. All very stunning. It took us about 6 hours to go down and back. Started down at 10:30 am, had lunch at Indian Garden and started up at 1:30 pm. We were at the rim around 4:30 pm. We could have made Plateau Point had we left at 8:00 or 8:30 am. The mules...I cannot say how many times I saw mule @$!*% on the trail and was happy it wasn't 100 degrees and stinking to high heaven. The ice on the upper portions of the trail made it easier than hiking in the summer I think, alhough in-step crampons and walking sticks helped too. Dressed in layers and had no problem with changing temps. Hydration as well was not an issue as it was 30-60 degrees and we each had 2-3 liters of water/powerade during the hike. I would absolutely recommend this trail, just be prepared...for the elements and the climbing, but also the large number of tourists on the rim and the upper couple of miles of the trail.
Great views from the Bright Angel trail. Unfortunately, they have horse & pack animals that also use some trails in the Grand Canyon. These animals move quite slowly, and they literally crap up the trail. If you enjoy the smell of urine & dung (ubiqitous on this trail in the summer), then you might enjoy hiking through this stuff, I didn't. Since I have hiked the rim-to-rim-to-rim in under 16 hours, I like to move out, and dawdling is not my style. Ray
Amazing views and well worth the effort and troubles of hiking this trail. I would not recommend descending and ascending on this trail. If you are hiking into the canyon then descend on the South Kaibab all the way to the bottom or take the Tonto over to Bright Angel. Take Bright Angel out of the Canyon for less rigorous exit. However, even though it is less rigorous than the Kaibab, it is still VERY tough the last three miles. The extreme altitude gain is very hard to do especially if you have already been hiking all day. From phantom ranch it is difficult to climb out of the inner canyon and that pass is often referred to as Devil's Corkscrew. The stream running next the to trail offers a peaceful calm while you are climbing. Once you reach the Tonto plateau it is easy hiking until Indian gardens. Indian gardens is a beautiful place to rest and camp. From Indian gardens the next 3/4 of a mile or so is the same easy hiking. The last 3.5 miles of the Bright Angel is very tough. You will gain nearly 1,000 feet of elevation per mile. Go slow. Hike in the winter with trekking poles and crampons if you want to avoid the deep potholes from the mules. 4 stars only because it is heavily traveled by mules and tourists. It is in bad shape, but well worth the effort.
We hiked from the south rim at Bright Angel Lodge to Indian Gardens' campsite on Thanksgiving, 2007. It's probably the worst trail I've ever hiked! It's very steep, with about one thousand foot of elevation gain or loss in each mile of trail. The mules have done a number on it, with very thick dust and many rocks. In addition, the logs used to control runoff create very steep "steps." The one has to deal with the many tourists who have no clue as to trail protocol. The only reason I didn't give it a one star rating is the magnificent view from Plateau Point, which is 1 1/2 miles beyond Indian Gardens. It's a 1,000 foot veritical drop from this viewpoint to the Colorado. Really spectacular, especially at sunset. While we were there a California Condor swept overhead at about 25 feet. It made the difficulty of the hike all worthwhile!
A friend and I did this trail (10/10/07) as part of a one day rim to rim hike. We came down the North Kaibab to Phantom Ranch, over the Silver bridge, and up the Bright Angel Trail. 12 hours exactly. North Kaibab is in beautiful shape, clean, well maintained and spectacular. We started at 4:30 am and had complete darkness till almost 5:45. Seeing sunrise from the Bright Angel Canyon will be remembered forever. Bright Angel Trail is really not in very good shape, the mules have beaten all hell out of it. A hiker must slow down to go over the logs that prevent erosion because the mules step between them and rut them up something fierce. It has tons of loose rocks and debris in comparision to North Kaibab. The total Rim to Rim the way we completed it was right around 23 miles, but the last 3 miles from 3 mile house was mean. Certainly the hardest 3 miles of my life, with altitude increasing and energy waning it was best to just keep moving my feet.

Trail Information

Grand Canyon
Nearby City
Trail Type
Skill Level
2 days
Grand Canyon National Park
Local Contacts
USGS Bright Angel, Grand Canyon, Phantom Ranch
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Jul 2018