The Bright Angel Trail is steep and very long. It covers one vertical mile in elevation change between rim and river.
It is a 7.5 mile long hike. The trail is well-maintained and wide trail and does not contain any difficult “hiking moves.” Some conditions that significantly increase the difficulty of this hike include: extreme temperatures (Summer temps exceed 100° F and sometimes exceed 115° F), and carrying the extra weight of your backpack/clothing and water significantly increases the stress and amount of effort exerted.
There is little shade cover on the hike resulting in prolonged exposure to desert sun. Dry, desert conditions result in serious water depletion and require you to carry and consume lots of water and to snack regularly. Exerting yourself at elevation (elevation at the river is 2,400′; elevation at the South Rim is 6,800′) is exhausting and hard to condition for if you do not live at elevation.
It is essential that you take time to condition in the months before your trip. Serious pre-trip conditioning is essential for you to have a safe, comfortable and more enjoyable journey. We suggest training with a weighted backpack on a stair-master, treadmill (set on incline), or a set of stairs (a local stadium or tall building). However, any exercise that builds cardiovascular and lower body muscle strength will help. Please start doing something right away.
If you have asthma, high blood pressure, or a heart condition, attempting this hike puts your health at serious risk. If you have any of these conditions or are unsure whether you are in good enough shape for this hike, we strongly urge you to get your physician’s approval for this trip. Please call us if you have any questions or concerns about the Canyon’s environment and how to deal with the sometimes extreme conditions.
Uphill or Downhill?
While this hike is difficult in either direction, there are important differences between hiking DOWN (Lower Canyon trips) and UP (Upper Canyon trips) the trail.
Mule Duffel Service
We cannot accommodate personal gear that is carried into or out of the Grand Canyon by the Fred Harvey mule/duffle service. The associated logistics negatively impact the experience of other trip participants.