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Backpacker Magazine – October 2008

Bright Angel Trail, Grand Canyon - America's Most Dangerous Hikes

Baked or broiled?

by: Kelly Bastone


The Hike Trekking from rim to river (and back) is one of the planet's iconic journeys, an achievement nearly every Grand Canyon visitor longs to notch. Trouble is, canyon temps routinely top 110°F in summer, and that hellish heat–combined with the exertion of climbing 4,380 vertical feet over 9.5 miles–results in about 200 heat-related rescues in the park each year, most of them on the Bright Angel Trail. In fact, a spate of deaths 10 years ago prompted the creation of PSAR (Preventative Search and Rescue), a team of rangers that patrols the Bright Angel Trail, assessing individual hikers, dispensing water to the suffering, and urging the unprepared to seek safety.

Exhibit A At 120°F, brain cells burst like tiny egg sacks, spilling their thick, salty fluid in thousands of deadly hemorrhages. Before that happened, 28-year-old Avik Chakravarty–who died here in July 2005–would have experienced cramps, scorching thirst, and hallucinations. His error: climbing up in the midafternoon heat. It's one that's easy to make on the Bright Angel Trail, which departs from the South Rim's commercial cluster. That convenience attracts scores of impulsive hikers who find that going down is easy–but climbing up is torturous. "The death zone is between the river and Indian Gardens, about halfway up," says Michael Ghiglieri, a Colorado River guide and co-author of Over the Edge: Death in Grand Canyon. The dark grey schist at lower elevations absorbs and radiates heat like a cast-iron frying pan, so when thermometers read 110°F in the shade at Phantom Ranch, hikers endure 130°F ground temps on the trail. Most people try to escape the inferno by hurrying along, which exacerbates heat illness. Explains Ghiglieri, "People feel so hideous they keep going to get it over with, instead of resting."

Survival Plan Start hiking down in the mild temps before dawn. At the bottom, cool off in the creek. Carry lots of water–Ghiglieri recommends drinking five to six liters on the round-trip–and pace yourself on the ascent. "Don't just go steadily until you drop dead," he warns. "Rest for 15 minutes of every hour you climb." Even better, delay your return until evening, and finish your hike by headlamp.




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Reader Rating: -

ALL READERS COMMENTS

Michelle
Jun 19, 2014

I just hiked the South Kaibab Trail down to the river and then turned around after two hours rest and headed up the Bright Angel Trail!!! I made it down the South Kaibab in six hours 8:00 am to 2:10 pm but I don't think I drank enough water!!! However my bigger mistake was I ate my food too fast while I rested at the spring near the water pump where the sign highlights the beginning of the Bright Angel Trail!!! So after 2 hours rest at the spring I headed back up with my indigestion in full blast!!! That slowed me down so it took me 8 hours to get to the 3 mile rest stop!! I did pick up time once it got dark!!! Unfortunately, once I stopped and got water at the 3 mile stop my flashlight did not cast a wide enough range for me to be sure where the trail picked back!!! More importantly the wind started picking up really bad, so I decided to stop since this was my first hike of this magnitude!!! I ended up sleeping in the 3 mile bathroom because the wind was so forceful!!! I left the 3 mile rest stop around 7:00 am but my stomach was now totally shut down!!! So I decided I would keep drinking, sipping very slowly and nibble very slowly on my wheat thins and almonds!!! It took me 9 hours to walk three miles!!! I had to rest every couple of feet because my indigestion was so taxing on me!!! The nice people I met along the trail along, offering me encouragement by agreeing I should get back the way that works best for me was very helpful!!! Knowing my friends were waiting up at the top of the Bright Angel Trail also kept me going!!! So I would say as much as I read, practiced and prepared the two things I want to share is hydrate properly on the way down and if you have stomach trouble, which I have had all my life, take measures to assist your stomach in handling the strain of the hike!!! If you want to do this hike please do!!! It was my gift to myself for my 55th birthday and it was well worth it!!!

Michelle
Jun 19, 2014

I just hiked the South Kaibab Trail down to the river and then turned around after two hours rest and headed up the Bright Angel Trail!!! I made it down the South Kaibab in six hours 8:00 am to 2:10 pm but I don't think I drank enough water!!! However my bigger mistake was I ate my food too fast while I rested at the spring near the water pump where the sign highlights the beginning of the Bright Angel Trail!!! So after 2 hours rest at the spring I headed back up with my indigestion in full blast!!! That slowed me down so it took me 8 hours to get to the 3 mile rest stop!! I did pick up time once it got dark!!! Unfortunately, once I stopped and got water at the 3 mile stop my flashlight did not cast a wide enough range for me to be sure where the trail picked back!!! More importantly the wind started picking up really bad, so I decided to stop since this was my first hike of this magnitude!!! I ended up sleeping in the 3 mile bathroom because the wind was so forceful!!! I left the 3 mile rest stop around 7:00 am but my stomach was now totally shut down!!! So I decided I would keep drinking, sipping very slowly and nibble very slowly on my wheat thins and almonds!!! It took me 9 hours to walk three miles!!! I had to rest every couple of feet because my indigestion was so taxing on me!!! The nice people I met along the trail along, offering me encouragement by agreeing I should get back the way that works best for me was very helpful!!! Knowing my friends were waiting up at the top of the Bright Angel Trail also kept me going!!! So I would say as much as I read, practiced and prepared the two things I want to share is hydrate properly on the way down and if you have stomach trouble, which I have had all my life, take measures to assist your stomach in handling the strain of the hike!!! If you want to do this hike please do!!! It was my gift to myself for my 55th birthday and it was well worth it!!!

Michelle
Jun 19, 2014

I just hiked the South Kaibab Trail down to the river and then turned around after two hours rest and headed up the Bright Angel Trail!!! I made it down the South Kaibab in six hours 8:00 am to 2:10 pm but I don't think I drank enough water!!! However my bigger mistake was I ate my food too fast while I rested at the spring near the water pump where the sign highlights the beginning of the Bright Angel Trail!!! So after 2 hours rest at the spring I headed back up with my indigestion in full blast!!! That slowed me down so it took me 8 hours to get to the 3 mile rest stop!! I did pick up time once it got dark!!! Unfortunately, once I stopped and got water at the 3 mile stop my flashlight did not cast a wide enough range for me to be sure where the trail picked back!!! More importantly the wind started picking up really bad, so I decided to stop since this was my first hike of this magnitude!!! I ended up sleeping in the 3 mile bathroom because the wind was so forceful!!! I left the 3 mile rest stop around 7:00 am but my stomach was now totally shut down!!! So I decided I would keep drinking, sipping very slowly and nibble very slowly on my wheat thins and almonds!!! It took me 9 hours to walk three miles!!! I had to rest every couple of feet because my indigestion was so taxing on me!!! The nice people I met along the trail along, offering me encouragement by agreeing I should get back the way that works best for me was very helpful!!! Knowing my friends were waiting up at the top of the Bright Angel Trail also kept me going!!! So I would say as much as I read, practiced and prepared the two things I want to share is hydrate properly on the way down and if you have stomach trouble, which I have had all my life, take measures to assist your stomach in handling the strain of the hike!!! If you want to do this hike please do!!! It was my gift to myself for my 55th birthday and it was well worth it!!!

Michelle
Jun 19, 2014

I just hiked the South Kaibab Trail down to the river and then turned around after two hours rest and headed up the Bright Angel Trail!!! I made it down the South Kaibab in six hours 8:00 am to 2:10 pm but I don't think I drank enough water!!! However my bigger mistake was I ate my food too fast while I rested at the spring near the water pump where the sign highlights the beginning of the Bright Angel Trail!!! So after 2 hours rest at the spring I headed back up with my indigestion in full blast!!! That slowed me down so it took me 8 hours to get to the 3 mile rest stop!! I did pick up time once it got dark!!! Unfortunately, once I stopped and got water at the 3 mile stop my flashlight did not cast a wide enough range for me to be sure where the trail picked back!!! More importantly the wind started picking up really bad, so I decided to stop since this was my first hike of this magnitude!!! I ended up sleeping in the 3 mile bathroom because the wind was so forceful!!! I left the 3 mile rest stop around 7:00 am but my stomach was now totally shut down!!! So I decided I would keep drinking, sipping very slowly and nibble very slowly on my wheat thins and almonds!!! It took me 9 hours to walk three miles!!! I had to rest every couple of feet because my indigestion was so taxing on me!!! The nice people I met along the trail along, offering me encouragement by agreeing I should get back the way that works best for me was very helpful!!! Knowing my friends were waiting up at the top of the Bright Angel Trail also kept me going!!! So I would say as much as I read, practiced and prepared the two things I want to share is hydrate properly on the way down and if you have stomach trouble, which I have had all my life, take measures to assist your stomach in handling the strain of the hike!!! If you want to do this hike please do!!! It was my gift to myself for my 55th birthday and it was well worth it!!!

Cassy
Dec 10, 2013

My Husband and I did this hike on our Honeymoon in the end of August 2012. We are both in good shape, but knew for fact we couldn't do the whole thing. I think we got to the bathrooms down there before we turned back and WOW! was that a workout I will NEVER forget. I do not recommend anyone do this unless they are experienced in hiking and have prepared for it. Overall it was a fun and exhausting experience.

Cassy
Dec 10, 2013

My Husband and I did this hike on our Honeymoon in the end of August 2012. We are both in good shape, but knew for fact we couldn't do the whole thing. I think we got to the bathrooms down there before we turned back and WOW! was that a workout I will NEVER forget. I do not recommend anyone do this unless they are experienced in hiking and have prepared for it. Overall it was a fun and exhausting experience.

Cassy
Dec 10, 2013

My Husband and I did this hike on our Honeymoon in the end of August 2012. We are both in good shape, but knew for fact we couldn't do the whole thing. I think we got to the bathrooms down there before we turned back and WOW! was that a workout I will NEVER forget. I do not recommend anyone do this unless they are experienced in hiking and have prepared for it. Overall it was a fun and exhausting experience.

David
Sep 15, 2013

A friend and I hiked down the South Kaibab trail to the river and then came back up via the Bright Angel Trail in the middle of September. There are signs all over the place telling you not to do it but as long as you take enough water and are in good shape ( able to hike a long distance ) you can do it. We had been practicing for about a year and were doing 24 mile hikes before we attempted this one. We started at 6:30am and made it to the river in just over 2 hours. It was about 65 degrees up top when we started and by 8:30 am it was high 80's to low 90's. We didn't hang out at the river for long because we were getting baked. Coming back up the Bright Angel Trail, my 3L camelback went dry about a half mile before we made it to Indian Gardens and I had to switch to my 1L backup canteen ( which I assumed I wouldn't need ). Re-filled the camelback at Indian Garden and that was plenty to get back up. It's a slow climb coming back up and it was a challenge even for someone who'd been practicing for a year.

Eric
Sep 03, 2013

Me and a bud just completed this trail in one day last month. I'm 18 he's 17 the hike was in August. We hiked all the way down to the river during the day, then waited for the night, then hiked all the way back up. We arrived at the top around 9AM.

I would recommend doing it this way because you avoid the heat on your way back up, that gap between camp and the river is really not that bad at night. My buddy realized that he forgot some of our supplies when we reached camp and we wound up re-hiking half way down and coming back up AGAIN, so we nearly did it twice that night. Honestly it wasn't that hard, plus there really aren't that many insects at night and all the animals seem to go to bed (aside from the froggys). Bring a good flashlight (actually everyone should) and truthfully you'll save yourself a lot of sweat.

Plus, the canyon is freaggin awesome at night! it looks straight out of a lord of the rings movie as my friend joked (perfect analogy his name is sam)

Next, with the canyons heat we also found camping gear to just be a waste of time, honestly this may sound wrong to some of you guys but I'd say if your trying to accomplish it in a day your better off just carrying a nice fluffy pillow or hammock then a tent. It's so hot you can sleep outside comfortably, (Get two-four hours of sleep then leave to take advantage of the night). Having as little as possible on your back will win your support in the long run, the water carrying process will prove to be tedious enough.

Speaking of which, PACK WATER. And I mean like, everyone should be carrying their supply, and back up supply, then some. The biggest mistake we made on our trip is we had more food then we needed, and just barely enough water. We used up every last drop of water on our way up to camp from the river, and were lucky not to have had any less (although there's running river water everywhere but it tastes terrible.) If your going to do what we did I'd say 10 bottles worth of water for every person and don't discard your empty bottles, you'll need refills. There are clean water supplies along the way BUT NOT AFTER THE CAMPGROUNDS, so beware. As far as food by the way we weren't really that hungry, truth is one day without a great meal won't kill ya, I'd say pack light and smart, 1 1/2 boxes of granola bars per person will probably be sufficient.

Final thing, plan. Not just before, but also when you get there. The weather could be different then what you anticipated. Honestly a quick visit to the visitor center won't kill you, have a look around, talk to people coming up the trail (and congratulate them) and figure out what's ahead. Also rest at the many rest houses on the way, I know your group might not want to, but theres a map inside and great information on the rest of the trail that you might not know about, so take a look, it might totally change your mind about continuing.

Or it might not...

Eric
Sep 03, 2013

Me and a bud just completed this trail in one day last month. I'm 18 he's 17 the hike was in August. We hiked all the way down to the river during the day, then waited for the night, then hiked all the way back up. We arrived at the top around 9AM.

I would recommend doing it this way because you avoid the heat on your way back up, that gap between camp and the river is really not that bad at night. My buddy realized that he forgot some of our supplies when we reached camp and we wound up re-hiking half way down and coming back up AGAIN, so we nearly did it twice that night. Honestly it wasn't that hard, plus there really aren't that many insects at night and all the animals seem to go to bed (aside from the froggys). Bring a good flashlight (actually everyone should) and truthfully you'll save yourself a lot of sweat.

Plus, the canyon is freaggin awesome at night! it looks straight out of a lord of the rings movie as my friend joked (perfect analogy his name is sam)

Next, with the canyons heat we also found camping gear to just be a waste of time, honestly this may sound wrong to some of you guys but I'd say if your trying to accomplish it in a day your better off just carrying a nice fluffy pillow or hammock then a tent. It's so hot you can sleep outside comfortably, (Get two-four hours of sleep then leave to take advantage of the night). Having as little as possible on your back will win your support in the long run, the water carrying process will prove to be tedious enough.

Speaking of which, PACK WATER. And I mean like, everyone should be carrying their supply, and back up supply, then some. The biggest mistake we made on our trip is we had more food then we needed, and just barely enough water. We used up every last drop of water on our way up to camp from the river, and were lucky not to have had any less (although there's running river water everywhere but it tastes terrible.) If your going to do what we did I'd say 10 bottles worth of water for every person and don't discard your empty bottles, you'll need refills. There are clean water supplies along the way BUT NOT AFTER THE CAMPGROUNDS, so beware. As far as food by the way we weren't really that hungry, truth is one day without a great meal won't kill ya, I'd say pack light and smart, 1 1/2 boxes of granola bars per person will probably be sufficient.

Final thing, plan. Not just before, but also when you get there. The weather could be different then what you anticipated. Honestly a quick visit to the visitor center won't kill you, have a look around, talk to people coming up the trail (and congratulate them) and figure out what's ahead. Also rest at the many rest houses on the way, I know your group might not want to, but theres a map inside and great information on the rest of the trail that you might not know about, so take a look, it might totally change your mind about continuing.

Or it might not....

Eric
Sep 03, 2013

Me and a bud just completed this trail in one day last month. I'm 18 he's 17 the hike was in August. We hiked all the way down to the river during the day, then waited for the night, then hiked all the way back up. We arrived at the top around 9AM.

I would recommend doing it this way because you avoid the heat on your way back up, that gap between camp and the river is really not that bad at night. My buddy realized that he forgot some of our supplies when we reached camp and we wound up re-hiking half way down and coming back up AGAIN, so we nearly did it twice that night. Honestly it wasn't that hard, plus there really aren't that many insects at night and all the animals seem to go to bed (aside from the froggys). Bring a good flashlight (actually everyone should) and truthfully you'll save yourself a lot of sweat.

Plus, the canyon is freaggin awesome at night! it looks straight out of a lord of the rings movie as my friend joked (perfect analogy his name is sam)

Next, with the canyons heat we also found camping gear to just be a waste of time, honestly this may sound wrong to some of you guys but I'd say if your trying to accomplish it in a day your better off just carrying a nice fluffy pillow or hammock then a tent. It's so hot you can sleep outside comfortably, (Get two-four hours of sleep then leave to take advantage of the night). Having as little as possible on your back will win your support in the long run, the water carrying process will prove to be tedious enough.

Speaking of which, PACK WATER. And I mean like, everyone should be carrying their supply, and back up supply, then some. The biggest mistake we made on our trip is we had more food then we needed, and just barely enough water. We used up every last drop of water on our way up to camp from the river, and were lucky not to have had any less (although there's running river water everywhere but it tastes terrible.) If your going to do what we did I'd say 10 bottles worth of water for every person and don't discard your empty bottles, you'll need refills. There are clean water supplies along the way BUT NOT AFTER THE CAMPGROUNDS, so beware. As far as food by the way we weren't really that hungry, truth is one day without a great meal won't kill ya, I'd say pack light and smart, 1 1/2 boxes of granola bars per person will probably be sufficient.

Final thing, plan. Not just before, but also when you get there. The weather could be different then what you anticipated. Honestly a quick visit to the visitor center won't kill you, have a look around, talk to people coming up the trail (and congratulate them) and figure out what's ahead. Also rest at the many rest houses on the way, I know your group might not want to, but theres a map inside and great information on the rest of the trail that you might not know about, so take a look, it might totally change your mind about continuing.

Or it might not....

AZ Marine
Jul 30, 2013

Just did Bright Angel Trail from rim to the river and back as a day hike. Although my buddy and I did this and enjoyed it, I wouldn't recommend this for the average hiker. We took military style assault packs with 3L hydration bladders, a couple electrolyte fortified drinks, snacks and protein bars, and extra clothing like socks, change of clothes, and rainproof windbreakers. Footware needed will be different for everyone and depends on what you're trying to do. We had boots on, mine were Goretex lined and came in handy while crossing several areas with ankle deep water but my friends were just regular ones and he did fine by exercising more care choosing a dry path. If you're just going about half way down to Indian Gardens, you probably would be just fine with a pair of decent sneakers with some good tread on the soles. Some people were hiking with Vibram Five Fingers "toe shoes" or other barefoot runners but they were fitness freaks and lean machines that looked like they do sit-ups while they sleep. There were many people near the top that were wearing flip flops or similar flimsy shoes and I know these hurt, broke, or were a miserable choice for their wearers. Water is offered at the top 1.5 mile mark, the 3.1 mile mark, and at the Indian Gardens area but anything below that should be treated before drinking. During July and August, the possibility of afternoon storms is high because of Arizona's monsoon season. We hiked about half the trail in wet weather which was beautiful but made for some extreme heat when the sun came out. Be prepared for that. Something I would recommend to any first time Grand Canyon hiker woul be to leave early, drink lots of water starting the day before, take your time and remember to take meal(s) with you to keep your energy up. Pack according to the season and don't bite off more than you can chew. My buddy and I are both Marines and in pretty good shape but still found the steep parts of the last couple miles strenuous on our upper thighs. The burn was worth it though. Bright Angel Trail made for lots of fun and some great pictures and we're already planning another trip into the canyon.

Dr Phun
Apr 20, 2013

It's not tha bad at the right time of year with a little common sense. Most people shouldn't try to do out and back in the same day. Be especially careful in the summer months. I did it in May when it was 30 degrees at the top in the morning and 100 degrees at the bottom when we got there. I don't want to imagine what it would be like in July.

Your condition and expereience makes a difference. We met a nice family at the phantom ranch and hiked out with them. They had an elderly relative with them from Austria. He lived in the mountains there. No joke, he was wearing khakies, a sweater and loafers and we didn't have a chance of keeping up with him.

When you are coming back up, you can tell when you are near the top because you start running into people with flip flops and no water in the last mile. I can't remember how many asked us if they were almost to the bottom.

Jason
Apr 18, 2013

My brother and I hiked the Bright Angel Trail to the Bright Angel Campground several years ago and the hiked out the next day. We went to the orientation before we took off and they definitely painted a clear picture of the fact that the canyon can kill you if you don't respect it. We drank a liter of water per hour, refueling at Indian Gardens, and the only problems I had were with three of those huge squirrels at Indian Gardens that tried to take me down for a bag of peanuts I was eating. I slept under the stars that night and woke up to something warm and fuzzy on my head. Since I don't have anything fuzzy on my head to begin with, I became a little concerned. When I moved to check it out, whatever it was took off into the bushes. I was a little disappointed, because it was keeping my head warm. By far, this is one of the best hikes I've ever done. I loved it so much that I almost relocated to Flagstaff so I could do the whole canyon. One day I'll get back there.

Bill
Apr 18, 2013

I have hiked the Canyon in every season. I would strongly recommend the Bright Angel trail as the best trail for exiting the Canyon because it is the least strenuous. Most well conditioned hikers can make it out using that trail. I would strongly advise against hikes to the river during the summer. The last time I did it it was 108 at the river! We left Phantom Ranch at 4:00AM the next day and were out about 10:30 with a rim temp of 70 something. The inner gorge near the river was very warm, even very early. I live in Phoenix so I'm conditioned to the heat. If you are not, stay out of the Canyon in the summer!

Bill
Apr 18, 2013

I have hiked the Canyon in every season. I would strongly recommend the Bright Angel trail as the best trail for exiting the Canyon because it is the least strenuous. Most well conditioned hikers can make it out using that trail. I would strongly advise against hikes to the river during the summer. The last time I did it it was 108 at the river! We left Phantom Ranch at 4:00AM the next day and were out about 10:30 with a rim temp of 70 something. The inner gorge near the river was very warm, even very early. I live in Phoenix so I'm conditioned to the heat. If you are not, stay out of the Canyon in the summer!

Keith
Apr 18, 2013

I graduated from high school in Flagstaf Arizona about 80 miles south of Grand Canyon. Have done a LOT of hiking in Grand Canyon. I read one commenter who said he never needed electrolyte supplements. A piece of advice, you will never need it as long as you USE it. It's the key to safe hiking in Summer in the canyon. Winter is usually not a problem. Someone else mentioned salt tablets. That's an old time (circa 1950's) solution to excessive sweating. Salt tablets work, just barely, IF dissolved in water first, don't swallow salt tablets undissolved. Use Gatoraide, it tastes a lot better than salt water. It's the best thing since sliced bread, ask the rescue rangers.

Jim the desert rat
Apr 18, 2013

Kaibab's Law: It takes roughly twice as long to drag your ass out of the Grand Canyon as it took to stroll in.

AZ Hiker
Apr 18, 2013

Day-hiking into the Grand Canyon is on many people's bucket list but kicking the bucket while hiking there usually isn't! Many people die in the canyon each year for a variety of reasons; one of them being that some hikers are unprepared for the experiences they encounter there. Sure, a lot of people hike there almost every day of the year but there are still those hikers who get lost and either barely or don't make it out alive. Read Felix! the Sugar Glider Be Safe Hike Smart (Amazon) before you hit the trail for a day-hike. Felix! teaches the reader what to pack, what to do if you get lost or scared, how to get rescued, and survival packing just incase you end up unexpectedly spending the night in the canyon. Learn how to navigate your way by paying attention to your surroundings and knowing how to use a compass. A compass doesn't need batteries or satellites and works in all types of weather but you need to know how to use it and this book makes learning how to use a compass easy. Your Grand Canyon adventure should be the thrill of a lifetime so make it more enjoyable by hiking smart and having the essentials with you!

Parish
Mar 30, 2013

We took a fantastic road trip that culminated (on Aug 18-my boyfriend's 50th bday) with a hike into the Grand Canyon. We called the ranger's station months in advance and did everything they suggested. We spent months preparing by doing practice hikes (especially in the heat) on difficult hiking trails (like Government Canyon) wearing exactly what we would be wearing in the Grand Canyon; broke in some excellent boots in the process. We wore army surplus fatigue pants, long-sleeved cotton shirts (the cotton helps retain your body sweat and stay cool in the dry climate), boony hats, 8-inch lace-up (to protect against snakes and scorpions) gortex boots (for in the event of a flash flood-luckily there wasn't one), neck coolers (which we soaked in the springs periodically on the way back up),and fingerless cycling gloves (for a better grip on our poles and to avoid blisters).
We brought extra socks and changed them at the half way point (to avoid blisters and heat rash). We each had a fully loaded day pack with 100oz camelbaks, four bottles of gatoraid, nuts, peanut butter sandwiches, tangerines, dried fruit, beef jerky, pretzels, etc.... We also carried army surplus rain ponchos that could be used to make a temporary tent shelter in the even of rain (August is the monsoon month). Of course we carried a steripen, first aid kit, sunblock, chapstick, utility knives, small hand held LED flashlights with extra batteries, clip on LED flashlights, a blacklight flashlight (to detect scorpions and black widow spiders (two types of scorpions in the Grand Canyon; the smaller of which is the more deadly), emergency dry rations, etc.... My pack weighed about 20lbs and my boyfriend's pack weighed about 40; but I weigh 100lbs and he weighs 170. We also carried a couple of 1 liter bottles of water to give to anyone that might need it (a lot of idiots hike this trail).
We made our way to the South Kaibab trail head at 5:00am (coyotes were howling all around, but we never saw any) and got to Phantom Ranch by 10:am. We stayed hydrated, drinking water every few minutes even though we weren't thirsty. Every 45 minutes, we stopped and rested for 15 minutes, ate some food even though we weren't hungry, took some photos, laid down and put our feet up. It was a wonderful hike down. We felt great! We picked up some sack lunches (you must call ahead and reserve food at the ranch); anyone can do it, you don't have to reserve a cabin nor a camp site. You can reserve breakfast, lunch (sack lunches), and dinner (either steak or vegetarian chili). After lunch, we waded in the creek and then took a nap before dinner. The steak dinner was really good, but we are light eaters and probably could have split one (they are huge). After dinner, we filled up our water bladders at the spring tap and waded in the creek some more (the 60-odd degree water feels amazing in contrast with the 130 degree oven of the bottom of the canyon in August). We slept until 2:00am, got up and hiked up Bright Angel Trail. We did it the same way that we did the South Kaibab, lots of breaks, adequate hydration, etc.... Even with a half-moon it was pretty dark (the stars were amazing, wish I could have photographed them), so we clipped the LED lights on our hat brims and used the hand-held flash lights to periodically check the trail further ahead. The clip on LED lights provided some added entertainment...tons of moths were fluttering all around us; one must have had a wing-span of 4-6 inches-about the size of a small bat. All the moth activity soon had bats zooming all around us. The giant moth wasn't around long ;o)
We got to the Indian gardens as the sun was coming up; it was beautiful! Got some great pictures of mule deer feeding on the foliage and the mule supply team headed down to the ranch. BTW, if you're hiking at night and worry that you may deviate from the trail, just follow the smell of mule poop and you'll be fine ;0) That was a running joke on the hike out.
We got to the top around noon; so when they say 5 hours in and 10 hours out, they aren't kidding. When we got back to the car, our legs were fatigued and they shook as we stepped into the car. We are in really good health. We exercise daily; run, bike, swim, weights, martial arts, pilates, yoga.... You definitely need to be fit to hike it or any other lengthy trails especially with dramatic elevation changes.
But, no, Bright Angel isn't a dangerous trail, not even in high summer (except for the possibility of flash flooding), as long as you are prepared and do it smart. I was surprised to see it on the list. I would have thought South Kaibab would be more perilous as it has no water stations and is much more steep, but it is less traveled than Bright Angel, so I guess that's why. Bright Angel is kind of like a dog, its not generally the dog's fault if someone is attacked....

Roger from Colorado
Feb 11, 2013

One of the most dangerous things about the Bright Angel trail, just like the trails in Yosemite, Yellowstone, RMNP or any of the big name parks is the number of people who are on them that have NO IDEA what they are getting themselves into and simply do not belong there. No water, footwear more suited for the mall than for the trail, no foul weather gear, no food, no map/compass and the ability to know how to use them (sorry your iPhone may not work back there, and GPS batteries do run out), no headlamp for after dark, no whistle (one of the most simple survival tools you can carry), no way to start a fire, no first aid kit, no shelter and nothing to help them if they have to spend the night. There are tons of lists of the ten essentials (my list is more than 10) that every person going for a hike should carry and most of the people who get in trouble are lucky if then have 2 or 3 of them. In other words, they simply do not belong there. I don't know how many times I have helped lead someone out from the backcountry, have given them food, water, warm clothing. How many I have patched them up when they fell and tore up their knees, hands or heads.

Common sense and preparedness are the two most basic things you need before any hike. Most of those who get themselves in trouble have neither.

Roger from Colorado
Feb 11, 2013

One of the most dangerous things about the Bright Angel trail, just like the trails in Yosemite, Yellowstone, RMNP or any of the big name parks is the number of people who are on them that have NO IDEA what they are getting themselves into and simply do not belong there. No water, footwear more suited for the mall than for the trail, no foul weather gear, no food, no map/compass and the ability to know how to use them (sorry your iPhone may not work back there, and GPS batteries do run out), no headlamp for after dark, no whistle (one of the most simple survival tools you can carry), no way to start a fire, no first aid kit, no shelter and nothing to help them if they have to spend the night. There are tons of lists of the ten essentials (my list is more than 10) that every person going for a hike should carry and most of the people who get in trouble are lucky if then have 2 or 3 of them. In other words, they simply do not belong there. I don't know how many times I have helped lead someone out from the backcountry, have given them food, water, warm clothing. How many I have patched them up when they fell and tore up their knees, hands or heads.

Common sense and preparedness are the two most basic things you need before any hike. Most of those who get themselves in trouble have neither.

TK
Jan 16, 2013

My daughters are hiking down to the bottom of the canyon in January. One daughter has an eating disorder and is cold all of the time. Neither girl has hiking boots, or is in incredible shape. They are 15 and 16 years old. My ex-husband is taking them. I am extremely worried for their well-being. Do I need to worry?

Noel
Nov 05, 2012

Just did rim2rim2rim. The essentials that you need are definitely water but mostly energy bars, salt pills,Gu's hiking poles provide an extra set of legs and cover up properly long sweat pants ,long sleeve shirt hat and glasses. Make sure to pack a warm jacket. Saw a couple guys freezing there butts off past Indian gardens on return route (30 degrees). With no flashlight.

Kim
Sep 30, 2012

I have gone partway down the Kaibab Trail to Cedar Ridge. Would like to hike either Kaibab or Bright Angel to Phantom and stay the night but I have a real fear of heights. Can anyone with a knowledge of such fear tell me whether if I made it that far down Kaibab, I don't have to worry about the other trails or are there worse parts further down or on bright Angel?

Jm m
Aug 27, 2012

Last May, myself and another overachiever ran rim to rim to rim on this trail. Perfect time of year. Started at 4:00am with 35 degrees. It got to 90 at the bottom by afternoon. We planned not to be Phanton Ranch during the hot afternoon and it worked out well. The two of us had small back packs witj energy snacks, electrolytes, jerky and a few other things. The total trip took 21 hrs. If I was to do anything different, I'd take more food and leave earlier. It's a trip you'll remember. By the way, I'm 62 and my running partner is 64. Happy to share anything.

Anupama
Aug 24, 2012

How are the temps in mid october. we are thinking of doing it oct 13th.

AW
Jul 13, 2012

Just finished Bright Angel an am in pretty shape. Live in Texas so heat not a issue or so I thought. We under estimated the time it was going to take to get to the bottom. Broke all the rules, not enough food, did not wet shirt or hot at stops and drink to much water with out replacing electrolyte. Long story short, I felt really bad at Phantom Ranch and could not hold down any food or electrolytes. I received an IV from the Ranger at Phantom, got really lucky with getting another day at Phantom to rest. We ate real good, left early morning, drink pretty of water, and electrolytes, along route back up. We also ate at every stop water stop and wet down shirt and hat. This was key as I led our merry band out of the canyon and was not even sore the next day. I will do this again the right way.

Jim Green
Jun 27, 2012

On a whim, I googled America's 10 most dangerous hikes, and I couldn't believe Bright Angel is on the list. Yes, it's hot there, but it's nowhere near the toughest route, only the most used. I've hiked it, plus N. and S. Kaibab, and Grandview to Horsheshoe Mesa. None of those are as difficult as Nankoweap, New Hance, Hermit, Tanner, etc., and these trails experience the same hot weather as Bright Angel.

Rusty
Jun 03, 2012

Kasia - A hat, hiking boots (yes, despite the heat), moleskin and other first aid items, lots of sunscreen, and I like using hiking poles. It's nice to also have some sort of camp shoe, e.g., crocs, to change into once at Phantom. You'll also need one 2-liter capacity water container per person, which will get you down to Indian Gardens where there is potable water to refill for the 2nd hotter half of the trip. Re temperature, it looks like it'll be 70's at the rim, which means 90's at Phantom.

Re electrolyte replacements. I do fine with just lots of water. However, I always carry a packet of powdered electrolyte replacement drink mix, e.g., Gookinaid's Hydrolyte, for emergency. Have never had to use it.

If you still have questions, when you get to the South Rim in the Park, go to the Village Market where the Outdoors Section in the back sells anything you would need and is staffed by very knowledgeable helpful hikers!

Have a good hike. You will be awed by the views (remember: don't gawk and walk), and I personally am always amazed by the geologic story. When you get down to the river, you will be standing next to rock that was first deposited almost two billion years ago! Each step down takes you through millions of years of geologic happenings. Oh, I can hardly wait for our next hike!

Dan
Jun 01, 2012

It really depends on the time of year you hike it. In the Summer it is brutal. Other times of year may be slightly less hot and in some cases especially in the north rim, treacherous because of snow/cold etc.

Rusty
Jun 01, 2012

Kasia - A hat, hiking boots (yes, despite the heat), moleskin and other first aid items, lots of sunscreen, and I like using hiking poles. It's nice to also have some sort of camp shoe, e.g., crocs, to change into once at Phantom. You'll also need one 2-liter capacity water container per person, which will get you down to Indian Gardens where there is potable water to refill for the 2nd hotter half of the trip. Re temperature, it looks like it'll be 70's at the rim, which means 90's at Phantom.

Re electrolyte replacements. I do fine with just lots of water. However, I always carry a packet of powdered electrolyte replacement drink mix, e.g., Gookinaid's Hydrolyte, for emergency. Have never had to use it.

If you still have questions, when you get to the South Rim in the Park, go to the Village Market where the Outdoors Section in the back sells anything you would need and is staffed by very knowledgeable helpful hikers!

Have a good hike. You will be awed by the views (remember: don't gawk and walk), and I personally am always amazed by the geologic story. When you get down to the river, you will be standing next to rock that was first deposited almost two billion years ago! Each step down takes you through millions of years of geologic happenings. Oh, I can hardly wait for our next hike!

Rusty
Jun 01, 2012

Kasia - A hat, hiking boots (yes, despite the heat), moleskin and other first aid items, lots of sunscreen, and I like using hiking poles. It's nice to also have some sort of camp shoe, e.g., crocs, to change into once at Phantom. You'll also need one 2-liter capacity water container per person, which will get you down to Indian Gardens where there is potable water to refill for the 2nd hotter half of the trip. Re temperature, it looks like it'll be 70's at the rim, which means 90's at Phantom.

Re electrolyte replacements. I do fine with just lots of water. However, I always carry a packet of powdered electrolyte replacement drink mix, e.g., Gookinaid's Hydrolyte, for emergency. Have never had to use it.

If you still have questions, when you get to the South Rim in the Park, go to the Village Market where the Outdoors Section in the back sells anything you would need and is staffed by very knowledgeable helpful hikers!

Have a good hike. You will be awed by the views (remember: don't gawk and walk), and I personally am always amazed by the geologic story. When you get down to the river, you will be standing next to rock that was first deposited almost two billion years ago! Each step down takes you through millions of years of geologic happenings. Oh, I can hardly wait for our next hike!

Rusty
May 31, 2012

Kasia - A hat, hiking boots (yes, despite the heat), moleskin and other first aid items, lots of sunscreen, and I like using hiking poles. It's nice to also have some sort of camp shoe, e.g., crocs, to change into once at Phantom. You'll also need one 2-liter capacity water container per person, which will get you down to Indian Gardens where there is potable water to refill for the 2nd hotter half of the trip. Re temperature, it looks like it'll be 70's at the rim, which means 90's at Phantom.

Re electrolyte replacements. I do fine with just lots of water. However, I always carry a packet of powdered electrolyte replacement drink mix, e.g., Gookinaid's Hydrolyte, for emergency. Have never had to use it.

If you still have questions, when you get to the South Rim in the Park, go to the Village Market where the Outdoors Section in the back sells anything you would need and is staffed by very knowledgeable helpful hikers!

Have a good hike. You will be awed by the views (remember: don't gawk and walk), and I personally am always amazed by the geologic story. When you get down to the river, you will be standing next to rock that was first deposited almost two billion years ago! Each step down takes you through millions of years of geologic happenings. Oh, I can hardly wait for our next hike!

kasia
May 28, 2012

More questions. What temperatures should we expect on June 5th both on the trail and down at PR. kasia.kijania-placek@berkeley.edu

kasia
May 28, 2012

More questions. What temperatures should we expect on June 5th both on the trail and down at PR. kasia.kijania-placek@berkeley.edu

kasia
May 28, 2012

I plan to hike the BA next Monday and back on the next day, with my husband and a 10yo daughter. I am not from this country so would appreciate any detailed advice about what to bring besides water, like what exactly to buy in the electrolyte replacement drinks category and what are salt tablets, where to buy them. We are not very experienced but did some hiking in Yellowstone. Any other advice welcome. Please reply to kasia.kijania-placek@berkeley.edu

Rusty
May 26, 2012

This is a response to Luke, from back in January. I'm sorry; I hadn't seen your question before. We, too, advised a friend accompanying us for the first time down into the Canyon that there were no exposed sections of the trail that would cause him to be concerned. He has a real fear of heights. Well, for those of us who don't share that anxiety, it was hard to imagine any part of the trail that would cause a problem. But, there are troublesome spots. Specifically, the following sections presented a challenge:
-Certain sections of the Tonto which ventured closer to the edge. He hiked 20' up the slope.
-The Rim Trail may have been the hardest. It's true, it's probably at least 5' wide, but it drops precipitously. He "hugged" the walls.
-Parts of the Corkscrew. Again, at least 5' wide, but some real drop-offs.
Had we appreciated that the trails presented very differently to someone with that anxiety, we would have obviously advised differently. What would he have done? Brought his hat with side blinders (like some horses wear, I think).
We've been backpacking in the Canyon every year for nearly 20 years and it never ceases to amaze and thrill us! (We're 77 and 68.) Go prepared and enjoy the splendor and grandeur so unique to the Grand Canyon.

Terry
May 26, 2012

I would consider the bright angel the safest trail in the park. Of course the caveat is that you don't ever hike in the summerm heat without some prior experience. This trial is probably only classifid dangerous because of all the inexperienced people who fail to carry water or go down in extreme conditions. ...resulting in rescues. (which the rangers aren't particularly happy about). This would be the first GC trail I'd take my kids on

Rusty
May 26, 2012

This is a response to Luke, from back in January. I'm sorry; I hadn't seen your question before. We, too, advised a friend accompanying us for the first time down into the Canyon that there were no exposed sections of the trail that would cause him to be concerned. He has a real fear of heights. Well, for those of us who don't share that anxiety, it was hard to imagine any part of the trail that would cause a problem. But, there are troublesome spots. Specifically, the following sections presented a challenge:
-Certain sections of the Tonto which ventured closer to the edge. He hiked 20' up the slope.
-The Rim Trail may have been the hardest. It's true, it's probably at least 5' wide, but it drops precipitously. He "hugged" the walls.
-Parts of the Corkscrew. Again, at least 5' wide, but some real drop-offs.
Had we appreciated that the trails presented very differently to someone with that anxiety, we would have obviously advised differently. What would he have done? Brought his hat with side blinders (like some horses wear, I think).
We've been backpacking in the Canyon every year for nearly 20 years and it never ceases to amaze and thrill us! (We're 77 and 68.) Go prepared and enjoy the splendor and grandeur so unique to the Grand Canyon.

Rusty
May 25, 2012

This is a response to Luke, from back in January. I'm sorry; I hadn't seen your question before. We, too, advised a friend accompanying us for the first time down into the Canyon that there were no exposed sections of the trail that would cause him to be concerned. He has a real fear of heights. Well, for those of us who don't share that anxiety, it was hard to imagine any part of the trail that would cause a problem. But, there are troublesome spots. Specifically, the following sections presented a challenge:
-Certain sections of the Tonto which ventured closer to the edge. He hiked 20' up the slope.
-The Rim Trail may have been the hardest. It's true, it's probably at least 5' wide, but it drops precipitously. He "hugged" the walls.
-Parts of the Corkscrew. Again, at least 5' wide, but some real drop-offs.
Had we appreciated that the trails presented very differently to someone with that anxiety, we would have obviously advised differently. What would he have done? Brought his hat with side blinders (like some horses wear, I think).
We've been backpacking in the Canyon every year for nearly 20 years and it never ceases to amaze and thrill us! (We're 77 and 68.) Go prepared and enjoy the splendor and grandeur so unique to the Grand Canyon.

Sharon S
May 25, 2012

The Bright Angel trail is intrinsically one of the safest trails in the Canyon. The primary danger is lack of preparedness. If you have the option of going during spring or fall, the temperatures are more moderate, although the elevation loss/gain is still a major factor. Keep in mind that although there are water stations, they close them in late October, so check before you hike. Last year we had the good fortune to be hiking out from Indian Gardens the last day the stations were open (we didn't know they ever closed them). There are other, more dangerous trails, with more exposure, more opportunity for falling or injuring yourself, than the Bright Angel, but you can make it just as deadly by lack of planning and preparedness. Plan well and be fit, and it is so worth it!

Rusty
May 24, 2012

This is a response to Luke, from back in January. I'm sorry; I hadn't seen your question before. We, too, advised a friend accompanying us for the first time down into the Canyon that there were no exposed sections of the trail that would cause him to be concerned. He has a real fear of heights. Well, for those of us who don't share that anxiety, it was hard to imagine any part of the trail that would cause a problem. But, there are troublesome spots. Specifically, the following sections presented a challenge:
-Certain sections of the Tonto which ventured closer to the edge. He hiked 20' up the slope.
-The Rim Trail may have been the hardest. It's true, it's probably at least 5' wide, but it drops precipitously. He "hugged" the walls.
-Parts of the Corkscrew. Again, at least 5' wide, but some real drop-offs.
Had we appreciated that the trails presented very differently to someone with that anxiety, we would have obviously advised differently. What would he have done? Brought his hat with side blinders (like some horses wear, I think).
We've been backpacking in the Canyon every year for nearly 20 years and it never ceases to amaze and thrill us! (We're 77 and 68.) Go prepared and enjoy the splendor and grandeur so unique to the Grand Canyon.

John from Colorado
May 24, 2012

I have hiked it several times. No problem, however, I heard that someone did it and then had to go on dialysis for kidney failure....hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Rest, eat and use electrolyte replacement drinks.

Logan
May 24, 2012

I think the article is kinda funny the only reason why Bright Angle trail has those stats is because that's the main trail nearly all visitors take, especially the people that have no business hiking such a trail. Bright Angle is probably the parks safest trail, with all the shade and water you need, not found on any other trail in the park, not to mention the PSAR which I have only seen on that trail.

Jeff
May 24, 2012

I have hike the Bright Angel, S. Kaibab, N. Kaibab and even a rim to rim, all in July. I would never recommend attempting a down and back in the summer months. Besides, part of the experience is being there and taking in the views. I just don't understand the joy (insanity) of "trail running". As they say "stop and smell the roses!"

Kapil
May 24, 2012

45 year old not very fit, hiked down and up in a day few weeks back, started at 6 AM, and back at 8 PM. Resting, lots of water, and not pushing oneself., Used some simple tactics while coming up 1) rested whenever I got shade 2)whenever rested drank electrolyte from back pack 3) Camel back water pack helps 4) Stopped only for 30 mins at India garden to avoid cramping 5) took salt tablets to avoid cramping...

JP
May 16, 2012

We are leaving tomorrow AM for our 10th hike from the South Rim (s. Kaibab) to the North Rim and back going up the Bright Angel on our way out. We hike through the night (spooky but cooler with killer star gazing) and have always finished under 24 hours. This will be the 10th time doing this hike. The first time is the hardest because there are no mental markers. The last mile out on the North Rim is rough as are the last couple miles on the Bright Angel. I'm 50 y/o and my hiking buddy is 55. We train by doing HIIT up hills for 2 months prior to the hike. Prepare your body, strengthen your mind, pack smart, and stay wet when it's hot and you too can do this 45 mile hike.
If anyone is interested in more details regarding this hike email me at jpnaz12172me.com

Jim
Apr 30, 2012

My wife, (age 61), and I (age 59) did the S Kaibab down to Phantom Ranch, and back up the BAT in one day. Started at 6:30, at Phantom Ranch at 9:30. My wife experienced some cramping about 1/2 mile before reaching IG. Once there, though, we rested, hydrated, and ate... spending about 45 minutes. Thermometer at IG registered 103 on April 23, 2012. After that we had no major issues getting back out, and were fortunate for some cloud cover and the associated shade (or muted sun) and took advantage of the rest stops on the way to the rim. Had a nice pasta meal and to bed EARLY, being pretty exhausted. Next day we felt pretty good, though I did have some quad soreness for a few days. It took us 11 hours: 3 down, 8 up.

One night at PR would make all the difference, as would allow for an early start out of the inner canyon. Subtract 20F from the temps, and it would be a pleasant, and relatively moderate hike.

Martin A321Flyer
Apr 30, 2012

https://picasaweb.google.com/117332986952124655279/GCN_MAR12?authuser=0&authkey=Gv1sRgCLSiq_zOzLWUiAE&feat=directlink

Martin A321Flyer
Apr 30, 2012

If somebody is interested, some pictures of my last trip:
https://picasaweb.google.com/117332986952124655279/GCN_MAR12?authkey=Gv1sRgCLSiq_zOzLWUiAE

Martin A321Flyer
Apr 30, 2012

I did hike the Grand Canyon in December 2010 and again in March 2012. Both times down Bright Angel trail and back up South Kaibab trail. Left Maswik Lodge early at 4:45 am (great starry sky!), down at the Colorado by 7 am (sunrise in December), black bridge at 8 am and back up at South Kaibab trailhead by 11:30 am. During cooler months it is perfectly doable in one day and lots of fun! You should be in quite good shape though...

Davie
Apr 24, 2012

Heat is obviously an issue in mid-summer. But, in late October, when I ran it, as a 45-year old, it should be no problem if you are fit. I carried no water - there is water along the way, and carrying it means you can't run properly. It was a bit daunting at the bottom, looking back up - I remember questioning my sanity. But, the run back up was fine - just kept a steady pace. A bit chilly when I got to the top around 2 pm. The only problem had been trying to get past a mule pack! It took me about the same time it takes me to run a marathon. The main difference was very sore quads from the run down, for a good week afterwards.

The UniBaller
Apr 24, 2012

I'm 44. In relatively good shape. We hiked down and up in one day! Weather was cool, first week of April, 2012.

I hiked down the South Kaibab with my two of my daughters (16 and 15 years old). We made it down in 3-hours. We hiked up the Bright Angel. Took us 7-hours up. The girls--who run track--did fine. Half-way up (right around Indian Garden) my legs locked up! Those last 4.5 miles up were HELL I tell you...pure HELL!

I would not recommend hiking it in one day; unless you have extensively trained.

The good thing about Bright Angel was that it shaded for a good part of our trip up. Without the shade...I don't know if I would've made it!

The UniBaller
Apr 24, 2012

I'm 44. In relatively good shape. We hiked down and up in one day! Weather was cool, first week of April, 2012.

I hiked down the South Kaibab with my two of my daughters (16 and 15 years old). We made it down in 3-hours. We hiked up the Bright Angel. Took us 7-hours up. The girls--who run track--did fine. Half-way up (right around Indian Garden) my legs locked up! Those last 4.5 miles up were HELL I tell you...pure HELL!

I would not recommend hiking it in one day; unless you have extensively trained.

The good thing about Bright Angel was that it shaded for a good part of our trip up. Without the shade...I don't know if I would've made it!

The UniBaller
Apr 24, 2012

I'm 44. In relatively good shape. We hiked down and up in one day! Weather was cool, first week of April, 2012.

I hiked down the South Kaibab with my two of my daughters (16 and 15 years old). We made it down in 3-hours. We hiked up the Bright Angel. Took us 7-hours up. The girls--who run track--did fine. Half-way up (right around Indian Garden) my legs locked up! Those last 4.5 miles up were HELL I tell you...pure HELL!

I would not recommend hiking it in one day; unless you have extensively trained.

The good thing about Bright Angel was that it shaded for a good part of our trip up. Without the shade...I don't know if I would've made it!

Angel
Apr 24, 2012

My mother and I just came back from the Grand Canyon and did the Bright Angel trail to Indian Gardens. Shes 62, I'm 34. It was a difficult challenge but very rewarding. I am so proud my mom and I experienced this together.

Gerry
Apr 18, 2012

Would anyone recommend the Bright Angel down and up in one day for a 76 year old in good shape.

Gerry
Apr 18, 2012

Would anyone recommend the Bright Angel down and up in one day for a 76 year old in good shape.

the cox family
Apr 13, 2012

We just hiked s kaibab, camped at bright angel, then hiked up bright angel to Indian garden, camped again and then finished on the 3rd day. Our boys are 8 and 11 and it was an amazing adventure!! You cannot put God's beauty into words. Both camp sites were great. Stew dinner at the ranch was yummy. California condors on both trials. Great time of year

Mike Hunt
Apr 09, 2012

I just did the day hike from the South Rim, down Bright Angel to Phantom Ranch and back up the South Kaibab up to the Rim. Left at 9am and the trip down to PR took 3 hours & 15 minutes. Spent 45 minutes getting some food and refilling water and snapping some photos before heading back up. The trip up South Kaibab took 4 hours and 15 minutes and was in the sun and got tiring at the halfway point (Skeleton point). What saved me was the 2 packets of Endurox I took plus the 2 packets of electrolyte replenishment that was purchased at Phantom Ranch- plus carrying 4.5 liters of water. Saw some people who were totally bonked near the top of South Kaibab and shared water with them. On April 7th, 2012 the temps at South Rim was quite cold and mid-day temps at Phantom Ranch was peaking at 85 degrees. I would think that if it was much hotter the hike would turn into a death march. The advantage in ascending the South Kaibab is that while you are in the sun for most of the hike you do get up quickly and avoid the long traverse along the river and the corkscrew that comes with ascending the Bright Angel trail- and you also save 2.5 miles of distance.

-Mike

Heather Dillman
Apr 03, 2012

We just hiked down the s.kaibab, two nights BA campground, and back up the Bright Angel last week. The temps at the bottom reached the upper 80s during the day. We all are relatively physically fit and had packs on our backs. The day after we hiked down we took the N.Kaibab up to Ribbbon falls (6 miles) it was HOT! Don't ever underestimate how much water you will need. I was surprised by how much we drank. Gatorade is an absolute must! Even with the temps only in the 80s we felt overheated at times and retreated to break in the shade. Saw a helicopter rescue a triathlete who had injured her knee running on the N.Kaibab. It was amazing and beautiful! The campground was the best I have ever camped at. Can't wait to go back!

Rod
Mar 04, 2012

The Bright Angel Trail is probably the easiest of all the trails going into the canyon - suffering a catastrophic fall would more likely occur in some of the other trails. If you're in good condition, plan accordingly, and have the proper amount of H20 / food - you should be okay. We backpacked from the South Rim to the North Rim and back a number of years ago in July (using the S.Kaibab, N.Kaibab, and up the Bright Angel) - we took our time (4 days) and it was a great trip.

Brooks
Feb 04, 2012

Luke, I think you'll be fine concerning heights. I don't recall anything being too narrow. Your biggest concern is having enough water and pacing.

Brooks
Feb 04, 2012

I did the entire round trip route starting at south kaibab, spent 30 minutes dipping my head in the Colorado river passed phantom ranch, and then made my way up bright angel. I did the entire thing in 10 hours in mid July. It was the most miserable hike I've ever done, but the most rewarding. I've done 3 of the to 10, this one was the most strenuous because of the heat factor, as well as the mental stability. I was wearing a dark blue shirt. By the time I was near the top I was beginning to hallucinate, so I rested. Bruised, chaffed, thirsty, and weak, I pushed myself towards the last mile stretch. A ranger near the top pulled me aside and said "look at your shirt", I looked and it was pitch white. All the sodium in my bloodstream had seeped out through my pores. She provided some saltiness crackers, and within 10 minutes I felt a boost of energy. I have never rushed to grab ice cream so fast in my life. The next day, I was sick as a dog. Ha!

If you are planning on doing that entire round trip, make sure you are prepared, mentally and physically. One of the worse parts was going 4 miles that looked like you were near the top, only to get over the ridge and notice you've got another 3 miserable miles to ascend.. You need to mentally prepare to push yourself. Also, bring as much water as you can possibly carry.

Luke Hampson
Jan 10, 2012

Question: I have heard that hiking the Bright Angel presents hazards for people with fear of heights . . . anything to this? I tend to freeze when too close to an edge and am leery about climbing out of the canyon . . . does anyone ever fall to death from the Bright Angel? Also: how wide are the paths, and how far are the paths from the edge of the canyon? Thanks for your help!

Luke

Luke Hampson
Jan 10, 2012

Question: I have heard that hiking the Bright Angel presents hazards for people with fear of heights . . . anything to this? I tend to freeze when to close to an edge and am leery about climbing our of the canyon . . . does anyone ever fall to death from the Bright Angel? Also: how wide are the paths, and far from the edge of the canyon? Thanks for your help!

Luke

WalksSlow
Dec 10, 2011

In August, 1965, my father,43, me, 15, and my brother, 13, hiked down the South Kaibab trail. Although, at the time, I only knew it as the Kaibab trail. We arrived at Phantom Ranch to find no one. We ate lunch at the picnic area near the river. We hiked out the Bright Angel trail. It was a long day. We drank a lot of water. I don't recall seeing anyone on the way down the Kaibab trail. On the way out the Bright Angel trail, we pass some young hikers wearing flipflops. Also, we passed a rescuer on a horse with two horses going down to Indian Gardens for someone that had given out. That made me determined to make it out on my own. At the time, 1965, we had no idea that this was such a strenuous hike.

Christina
Nov 19, 2011

Just after Labor Day this year we hiked down the South Kaibab, stayed at Bright Angel Campground 2 nights, then hiked back up the Bright Angel trail. There were four in our group, aged 30, 36, 42 and 72. We all did it with little trouble. But we took it nice and easy. It took us 11 hours to go up the Bright Angel from Phantom Ranch - we spent a nice time resting at Indian Gardens and stopped alot along the way to rest, take pictures, eat snacks. Overall, the trip was not as difficult as I had expected, but perhaps that was because we were well prepared and in no hurry. And we savored every minute of it! I did not envy those folks racing by us, trying to make it out in record time. What's the point? I came to the canyon to enjoy it, not beat it.

Matt
Sep 06, 2011

I hike from North to South at the end of every Sept. and it is warm that time of year, I can only imagine how hot it is in July or August.
I have done that hike 6 times, plus once south to north.
When I get asked for advice the 2 things I tell the most are - make sure you are in great shape. There is nothing to prepare you mentally for the last 4.5 miles hiking up from Indian Gardens, you just have to hope that you are in great physical shape.
The other advice I give people is to enjoy the hike, you will be looking UP at the Canyon, most look down into it.
(Then I go into drinking enough water or Gatorade, and bringing enough food)

Nick
Aug 16, 2011

I just did the BAT south rim-river-south rim on 14 Aug 2011, starting at 5:50am and finishing at 2:49pm. A pre-dawn thunderstorm left skies cloudy for the descent, but as I was sticking my foot in the chilly CO River, I turned to see blue sky...and that familiar bright orb. I wasted no time and turned around, knowing that the mild 70 degrees I experienced at Indian Gardens would soon be a distant memory. The Corkscrew was brutal, and I had no choice but to take my first stop at Indian Gardens on the return. It was at this point I noticed a blister had formed on the bottom of my right foot, which, combined with the heat, made for a slow slog uphill the rest of the way. At age 52, I know my fastest days are well behind me, but my experience in ultramarathon cycling has taught me that just keeping going (even slowly) is better than not going at all. I took 2 short breaks after IG, and steadily climbed, reaching the top one minute shy of 9 hours total. My trip menu consisted of a Clif Bar one giant pre-packed dill pickle, and 6 litres of fluid (half of which was doctored up with Endurolytes Fizz. This is a challenging hike, but not as tough as some say. Basic preparation is necessary, along with base training and an early start. It is very doable...even for middle-aged guy like me.

Ranger Rob
Aug 12, 2011

Five friends and I hiked from North Rim to South Rim on July
Fourth, 2000. The temps mentioned in this article are NOT an exaggeration. The temp in the inner gorge was 120 degrees, which means that the water we carried was also 120. We did everything right (left early, took breaks ,carried high energy snacks, refilled water at every opportunity, took a long break @ Phantom Ranch and in BA Creek) and two people still had trouble in the Devils Corkscrew. We helped them up to Indian Gardens, which proved to be, literally, a life saver. There we rehydrated, refueled, and waited for the BAT to become shaded by the rim. I strongly recommend that anyone considering this hike do it during cooler weather.

Steve
Aug 12, 2011

My aunt and I hiked down the S. Kaibab Trail to the Bright Angel Campground in late April, 2010. We camped there a couple of days and hiked back up the Bright Angel Trail. The weather that time of year was great... cool in the morning at the rim and very warm in the afternoon at the river.

The campgrounds at the river were very nice... peaceful and scenic with wildflowers all around and the sound of the raging Bright Angel Creek running next to the campsites.

The biggest challenge was avoiding the mule droppings heading back up the BAT!

This is far from my favorite hike, after hiking many times in Utah, but I just had to be able to say I had done it!

Brian Thompson
Aug 11, 2011

I will be hiking this trail again for the 8th time. This Saturday for the fullmoon. I hike down the SK trail to phantom ranch. Then up the bright angle trail. This is my 3rd time making this same trip. I do this annualy. It is so spiritual hiking in the fullmoon. It is very hot once you get to Phantom Ranch and it stays very Hot until you reach Indian garden. 90's at night. My advise always plan ahead and know your trail. Check weather forcast and bring plenty of water and food. Flashlight and first aid kit even if your not planning on being out long.

Titus
Aug 11, 2011

In my early twenties a friend and I hiked down and back in a day during the summer. That section below Indian Gardens was punishing. I am now in my fifties and still remember that trip as one of the best. The thing that really helped with the heat was some large dill pickles that I had brought along. They were individually sealed in plastic packages. The salt and great flavor gave us a real boost. I still carry dill pickles on my hot weather trips.

Jill
Aug 11, 2011

I've always hiked The Canyon in winter months, usually January or February, when the upper mile or two are icy and snow-packed. I began using "Stabilicers" (mini-crampons), and what a difference that made!
Even in winter, there are rattle snakes lower down in the canyon, so don't forget to be alert. I once travelled really light with just my sleeping bag for the night, but after meeting 2 rattlers on the BAT, I slept on the picnic table in my campsite. I sure missed my sleeping pad.
I like to descend via the BAT, then ascend the Kaibab. Love going through the tunnel in the early-morning darkness.

Scott Williams
Jul 20, 2011

One comment about drinking lots of water -- avoid hyponatremia (reduction of normal sodium levels in your body by excessive consumption of water) by including electrolytes in your drinks. Hyponatremia can create serious problems and place you in jeopardy. In lieu of liquid electrolytes, you can consume Saltines or other salty snacks.

Robert
Jul 15, 2011

I hiked this trail around July 4th and around Labor Day. Labor day is a MUCH better time to do it.

BarbAZ
May 20, 2011

We hiked the South Kaibab Trail from the South Rim to Phantom Ranch and then the North Kaibab Trail up to the North Rim in one day earlier this week. The weather was quite cool and windy - in fact, it snowed the next morning at both rims. The hike was a sensational experience but very challenging, even with training in advance. No one has mentioned poles, but I felt the poles were critical to completing the hike, especially on the steep switchbacks going up. For anyone who has not used them, the poles allow you to transfer some of your physical effort to the upper body and takes some of the stress off your legs. And, having done the hike, I would not attempt the rim-to-rim in a day hike in hot weather. Temperatures in the inner canyon portion were only in the mid-80s, but even that made us feel overheated in that portion. Altogether a great experience, but one that requires a lot of advance planning, good equipment, and luck.

Mike K
May 14, 2011

The BAC is pretty spectacular in the fall and winter - done it top to bottom twice (Jan and Oct 2008). I'm in agreement with the others here - no sense in torturing yourself during the summer. The locals don't. Plan an October trip and enjoy.

Ryan
Apr 29, 2011

So if you are going to hike in the summer you must get a very early start both going down and coming out, most importantly going down because the temperature rises 3.5 degrees for every thousand feet you descend not to mention the day gets much hotter as it goes on. Both are working against you in the summer. Donít be afraid to just lay completely immersed in the creek and river, they are literally a life savior. You are never more than two or three miles from the creek or river below Indian Gardens. Bottom line donít find yourself in between Indian Gardens and Phantom Ranch between 11 and 6 or you are seriously chancing death; plenty of water or not.

Mike Madigan
Jan 04, 2011

I have backpacked the GC 15 times. Always from Late Oct to March. It is wonderful weather then. I live in the heat of Tucson and see NO enjoyment in hiking the GC in the summer. Do your homework and hike it when you can enjoy it.
When it is cold, one can always put more clothes on. When it is 100+ not much you can do about it.
My 2 cents from someone who lives in the desert heat.

Danielle Downs
Jan 02, 2011

Try the canyon in the Winter. I hiked in January down the South Kaibab and up the Bright Angel after spending the night in the canyon. We had the place to ourselves - it was beautiful and weather was fine. Start off with snow and in the 30's up top but much warmer (50's) down in the canyon. The only thing you will need are some cheap crampons and warmer clothes.

Jeff
Dec 31, 2010

Never can understand the desire to "rush" any trip, especially one in the Grand Canyon. I and four others spent 4 days doing a rim to rim Backpack. This is the 3rd time I have hiked/backpacked in the Canyon (all in the month of July, so be prepared)and each has taken longer than the last only because we wanted to enjoy what the Canyon has to offer. My personal belief is that anyone who wants to "tag" the river and back in one day is missing the best part of this beautiful place.

jack vawter
Dec 30, 2010

Hiked rim to rim 3 times, 04, 06,and 08 always North to South( thanks trans canyon shuttle). Each time in mid to late October or early Nov. Variations of the B/A and S/k trails including a tonto s/k to b/a at indian gardens. Oh yeah, no less than 3 days in canyon each trip. Amazing

Bob Burnett
Dec 30, 2010

Have crossed the Tonto Plateau to clear creek in summer 1994, and blew out my thermometer at over 125 degrees. Almost killed us!! Hydrate and go slow in the heat.

Heike
Dec 30, 2010

My friend and my very first backpacking trip was a rim-to-rim (south to north) hike of the Grand Canyon in August. The heat didn't bother us, as we had spent multiple summers working outdoors 24/7 in 100 degree, humid weather, but we learned soooo much on this trip. We packed everything the book recommended we pack for the trip, including a tent hammer (which we never used and which we regularly cursed at because of its nearly 1 lb weight), so needless to say, we had ridiculously heavy packs. The trip was a success and we did another rim-to-river trip in July 2008 with lighter packs that was even more memorable. I would love to go back in see the Canyon NOT during one of the hottest months of the year now! :)

On both trips we did come across dayhikers that were about halfway in the canyon and only carrying a half filled 1L bottle of water (in the summer, mind you), both under the impression that they could make it to the river and back in a day (walking).

Mike Novak
Nov 22, 2010

What's the weather like on the Bright Angel trail
in December and January?

Mike
Nov 11, 2010

I just returned from a long weekend trip at the South Rim during which my goal was a rim to river and back. I've had a pretty tough year physically having my Rt hip scoped in April and broke my Lt hip in June. By the middle of August I was able to hit the trails again. Started out slow and worked my way up. By mid October I was feeling great and wanted to give the canyon a shot. I had a long weekend scheduled the beginning of November and planned a trip to the South Rim. I was on the South Kaibab trail by 6:05 AM Saturday. I carried my 100 oz Camelback loaded with snacks for the trip. I arrived to Phantom Ranch @ 8:30 AM feeling great. I enjoyed 2 cups of coffee and started the climb up Bright Angel @ 9:30 AM. Made it to Indian Gardens by 11:30 AM feeling as if an Angel had been carrying me! My initial goal was 8 hours of hiking round trip. I plowed past 3 M rest and started to slow down @ 1.5 M rest hitting a wall about 1 M out. At about 0.5 M out I gained some momentum and crested the Rim just before 1:30 PM with a tremendous amount of JOY! I'd completed the round trip in 6.5 hours of hiking (7.5 hours including the 1 hr break @ Phantom). I ran 3 marathons in '01 & '02 including Boston and this hike topped all of them! Awesome Experience! Thank you JESUS!

Shevvers
Nov 01, 2010

Yesterday, we did the Rim-to-Rim hike in just under 11 hours, starting at Bright Angel and ending via North Kaibab, swapping car keys at the midpoint with friends. 24 strenuous miles, some quite scary exposure on the North Kaibab...and I'd NEVER do this in summer. It'd be awful. If you hike in the Grand Canyon, pick the cooler months. We were blessed with cloud cover and breezes. Take at least 1 gallon of water per person, plenty of snacks, and refill your water bottles at every drinking water pump.
And bring your camera!

canyon run
Oct 26, 2010

I've done a moonlight rim to rim overnight twice, both in October. The latter one was last weekend from North to South (last time South to North) and although the moon only came out for a couple of hours, the trek was worth every step. It rained on and off all night, took us 13 hours and although we are always prepared and conditioned, I can't imagine doing it rim to rim to rim especially in the summer. It's a great experience, but one that should be taken with caution and common sense.

TonyB-KS
Oct 02, 2010

9/29/10 - My wife,I and another couple (all in our early 60's)hiked Bright Angel Trail to Plateau Point and back to the South Rim. Started at 6:30am and back out in 8 hours 15 minutes. Had plenty of water,food - trail mix, peanuts, beef jerky and peanut butter sandwiches. Mixed powdered Propel and drank (2) bottles down and (2)up. Hiked up slowly and took many breaks. What a Great experience.

Karl
Sep 01, 2010

Ellen -- Good Grief! You seem to be saying the same thing as many others who have commented, and what the Park Service emphasizes: DO NOT attempt this hike from late June through September, unless you are extremely well prepared and know what you are doing. Otherwise, people can (and do) get themselves in serious trouble on this hike. Remarkable experience for those who are prepared, but there were several people heading down to the river on August 28 who had no business being there and were in for potentially much more than a "brutal experience."

Ellen
Sep 01, 2010

Good grief! Hike this trail at the right time of year and it's great. I've gone down the Bright Angel and up South Kaibab in early June, and the reverse trip in October. I would never want to do this at the end of July- that's just asking for a pointlessly brutal experience. By the way, the second trip was when I was 53 years old and had twelve and fifteen-year-old girls with me who had never hiked before. We came down, stayed at Phantom Ranch, and hiked up early the next morning. It was challenging but by no means a death march. We saw the awesome scenery, and both of them want to do it again. By the way, if you are doing the loop, another trick is to hike DOWN the South Kaibab- it's the one with no shade or water as opposed to Bright Angel where there are some places you can actually jump into a stream and cool off.

Ellen
Sep 01, 2010

Good grief! Hike this trail at the right time of year and it's great. I've gone down the Bright Angel and up South Kaibab in early June, and the reverse trip in October. I would never want to do this at the end of July- that's just asking for a pointlessly brutal experience. By the way, the second trip was when I was 53 years old and had twelve and fifteen-year-old girls with me who had never hiked before. We came down, stayed at Phantom Ranch, and hiked up early the next morning. It was challenging but by no means a death march. We saw the awesome scenery, and both of them want to do it again. By the way, if you are doing the loop, another trick is to hike DOWN the South Kaibab- it's the one with no shade or water as opposed to Bright Angel where there are some places you can actually jump into a stream and cool off.

Karl & Dan Tilleman
Aug 29, 2010

Yesteray, I hiked with my son from the rim to river and back. Incredible hike! Started at 5:30 a.m., spent an hour and a half at river and finished at 1:00 p.m. Temperatures yesterday were perfect for hiking -- with high at river reaching 97 degrees in the mid-afternoon. At river (8:20 a.m.) with the temperature much cooler, it still started to get very warm and we would not want to start hiking out on a hotter day, or any later on a day with relatively mild temperatures. We have gone on serious hikes for many years and trained for this one all summer, and it was still everything I could handle. Was quite surprised to see a couple of other parties without nearly as much water, electrolyte drinks and proper food attempting this. We commented it was highly likely they had gotten themselves in trouble later in the day. For extreme and well prepared hikers, you will not be disappointed! For others, enjoy the view from the 1.5 mile or 3 mile rest stops -- and even for the well conditioned, Indian Gardens or Plateau Point are great hikes. Don't try get to the river and back in one day without serious training and being well prepared. From your own prior hiking experience, you need to know you can hike more than 15 miles, with a 4,250 elevation gain in the heat before letting your desire to conquer the canyon get the better of you! If you are legitimately prepared, make the trip and marvel from both the top and the bottom of one of the seven wonders of the world. Well worth it!!

Cynthia Frost
Aug 28, 2010

My husband and I hiked this trail sept 2009.The goal was Indian Gardens, but decided after multiple comments of "It's worth the view", ended up at Plateau Point. Our hike was 4 hours down and 12 hours up. Stiff the next day but well worth the memories. Be safe and hike smart.

Dave
Aug 24, 2010

Did a rim to river and back to rim run on the Bright Angel Trail on the 4th of August 2010. There we public posters showing a woman who had run the Boston Marathon stating that she died of dehydration on the Bright Angel Trail. She took with her a liter of water, a banana, and a power bar. I read this and the info in the hand out they give you at the entrance to the Grand Canyon and planned accordingly. I took military rations, 5 liters of water, and two containers of Gatorade. To avoid the heat, I planned my decent for early morning. My mission was to tag the Colorado river and get back in one day.

I hit the trail at 6 am, and made it to the river in good shape at 10:55 am. The way back from the river to Indian Garden was brutal. I took off my shirt and dunked it in the river and put it back on. I dunked a hand towel in the river and put it on my head to keep cool. I listened to my body the best I could. I rested when I needed it, drank when I needed to and didn't. And the same with eating. You drink and eat, becaue you know you need to, not because you FEEL hungry, cause when you are that tired and hot, signals aren't working quite right.

I got to Indian Garden and the 95 degrees there was cool as opposed to the 110 from the river. After resting for an hour at Indian Garden I continued my accent. I listened to my body, rested when I needed to, kept drinking water and with 3 miles left to the top and my legs screaming at me to stop, continued on. I made it out in 13 hours and 15 minutes. One of the most torturous things I've ever done. Took my legs 4 days to feel normal. Proud to have done it. Learned a deep truth about myself. Great Expereience.

jim
Aug 15, 2010

I'm 67 this july my 13 yr old grandson & I hiked down the Bright Anger Trail to take a raft trip tru the canyon, I read several items about the trail. I now live in Ohio, but had some experience in the SW. When we left the rim I was carrying 3 qts of gatorade & one of water in my backpac. My grandson had 2 & 1. We both had pint water btls in our pocket. We left the rim at 5:50 and got to the Phantom about 2:15.We also had a selection of low fat/protein energy bars, two bags salted peanuts,salt packets. We frequntly drank water. We both drank 1/2 a botl of gator at the 1.5 mi,& at the 3 mi. Another 1/2 qt of gator at Indian Gdns. We filled everything with water at the Gdns(including the 1/2 bottle of gator. We ate 2 energy bars/mile, one bag of peanuts at the 3 mi. & one in the corkscrew. We also dissolved 2 small salt packets in our mouths about the same time. By the time we got to the bridge we were down to the one unopened botle of gator. We had good shoes and socks (don't overlook them if your hiking get good ones that fit. No extra fabric to fold up) We were tired but arrived in good shape and spirits. If your going to hike in the canyon practice hiking before you go. Carry enough water & chow. Hike at a steady pace (don't rush) and rest frequently. The best part was the people. We met prople from 15 different countries. We also met 2 young american women hiking up the trail wearing eye shadow and mascara. Go Figure.

Billy Kester
Aug 12, 2010

I hiked the South Kaibab trail to the river and back up the Bright Angel trail on July 29th 2008. Temperatures were definately becoming brutal. Myself and two friends started the South Kaibab trail at 11 in the morning and made it down to the river at 5, and Phantom Ranch was reading 101 degrees in the shade. We set up camp and cooled off in the creek next to the campground at Phantom. Now the best thing to do in the summer heat like this is to leave at about 3:30a.m. with headlamps and take on the Bright Angel trail. I'm in good shape and made it to the top at 10a.m.. However, my friends lost thier appetites and finished four hours behind me and began to vomit with exhaustion from the heat.

Greg Pause
Aug 10, 2010

I hiked Bright Angel from the Canyon Rim to the River (Rest Station) and back on August 8, 2010. The weather cooperated with partly cloudy skies and moderate temperatures. I started before 6am and made it to the river before 9am. I took only a 20 minute break and started back up to avoid the afternoon heat or possible monsoon rains. The hike from Indian Garden to the 1.5 mile rest station was slow and increasingly difficult, stopping more frequently for water and food to recover and avoid cramping. It took nearly 5 hours to return from the river to the rim. I was carrying a gallon of water and a 25 pound pack and my clothes were sweat soaked for most of the trip up from Indian Garden. It is a tough hike and I am glad the temperatures were not higher.

JMatousek@pismobeach.org
Aug 09, 2010

Hiked the Bright Angel on July 31, 2010, it was a vision quest. My father 2 brothers and I, in 1970, flew up the middle of the canyon from Lake Mead to Page Az. where we boarded a "Sanderson Brothers" Raft to float back down to Lake Mead. It was an awesome trip. Lava Falls and Crystal we running class 5. I must say the hike down and up Bright Angel in one day is the hardest thing that I have ever accomplished. I am a career firefighter, and in great shape(for a 53 y/o) and it still kicked my a#@. I no longer have any toenails on my big toes as a reminder of my quest. If you attempt this be smart and carry lots of water and food and go early and rest during the heat of the day. Best Wishes and Have a Great Time Joe

JWM
Aug 08, 2010

Hiked the Bright Angel on July 31, 2010, it was a vision quest. My father 2 brothers and I, in 1970, flew up the middle of the canyon from Lake Mead to Page Az. where we boarded a "Sanderson Brothers" Raft to float back down to Lake Mead. It was an awesome trip. Lava Falls and Crystal we running class 5. The hike down Bright Angel

JWM
Aug 08, 2010

Hiked the Bright Angel on July 31, 2010, it was a vision quest. My father 2 brothers and I, in 1970, flew up the middle of the canyon from Lake Mead to Page Az. where we boarded a "Sanderson Brothers" Raft to float back down to Lake Mead. It was an awesome trip. Lava Falls and Crystal we running class 5. The hike down Bright Angel

Anonymous
Aug 03, 2010

AC
Jul 28, 2010

A long time ago, I did the Bright Angel Trail from the rim to the river and back up in one day. It was late July.

I never intended to hike the Grand Canyon. I was on my way to LA. But, the ride I caught was going to the Grand Canyon, so I rode with them. We got there maybe 7:00am. As I sat on a wall and looked over the canyon, it was just awesome. I wanted to be in it and see the Colorado River. At 8:00, I just decided I could make it down and back in one day as I was in great shape. Then I could be on my way. I knew nothing about the canyon as it was not even in my plans.

I had a 35 pound pack with all my travel stuff: tent, sleeping bag, etc. I had maybe one large bottle of water and a few snacks.

The trip down was not bad. I refilled my water in the Indian Garden and was at the Colorado River by 11:00. The river was freezing and felt great. I felt great and ready to head back up. So far so good.

The coolness from the river did not last long. Soon I was hot. It was much harder hiking now. I remember passing a scout master who was in very bad shape. That was ominous. Eventually, I was not doing so good. Out of water and very hot. Then, I heard water and scrambled down to find a small creek. I dropped my pack to lay in the water. I probably stayed in the water for 15 minutes. It felt so good. I was refreshed after that and though tired I made a push up to the Indian Garden.

When I got there, I got water and collapsed in the shade. Someone was kind enough to give me a sandwich as I had no more food. It was a struggle to eat it as I was pretty nauseated.

I now knew the rest of the hike was going to be brutal. In the canyon, it was well over 100 degrees. I heard talk about taking people out on mules who could not make it. Then I saw some boys my age who were going out on mules. They looked in good shape, but they were exhausted. That was worrisome.

So, I just stayed put. I started thinking I could stay in the garden overnight and hike up in the morning. But eventually, a park person told me no overnight camping.

I waited as long as I could and then started up. I think I had more water than on the way down, but I cannot remember how. Even in the shadows, the walls radiated heat. I decided to rest often even though I was worried I might not be able to stand up again. At some point, I watched those boys go by me on the mules.

Part way up, another group hiking late started walking with me. They were very encouraging and rested each time I rested. At this point, we were going up in the dark. There must have been a moon as we could see, but I do not remember looking up; I just focused on my steps.

We reached the rim just after midnight. 3 hours down, 13 brutal hours back up. I was totally unprepared for the difficultly of this hike. Easily the hardest day of my life.

Chris
Jul 22, 2010

Isn't the Bright Angel Trail the easiest way down into the canyon? And isn't it paved? In other words, shouldn't it be on a list of the "Most Dangerous [Touristy] Trails in the US?"

I'll answer: here's the NPS' description:

The most popular trail into the
canyon begins west of Bright Angel
Lodge. Upper portion has some
afternoon shade. Water available
year-round at Indian Garden and
Plateau Point (subject to line breaks).

So, if you just had to include the Grand Canyon, shouldn't you have chosen just about any other trail there?

Sure, Bright Angel can be dangerous, but it's not even the most dangerous in GCNP, let alone the country.

Joe H
Jul 20, 2010

My dad, brother, and I hiked from rim to phantom ranch to rim in 8 hours when I was 11 (the youngest of the 3)in the summer 0f 1992. I struggled with the heat a bit in the inner canyon and had a hard time breathing smoothly, but made it up. You just have to be in great shape. I'd say if you can run a 10K in under 45 minutes you can do it. Of course, we lived in Houston and were used to heat.

Dan
Jun 20, 2010

We just returned from Arizona. My 12-year old son and I (@46) hiked to Plateau Point and back in 6 hours on the nose. I would say that if you stay in good physical shape, you should be able to do this hike without any problem. In fact, you could probably do rim-river rest stop-rim if you leave enough daylight and rest time. We didn't start down the trail until 11:30, which made it tough. The heat on the last leg to Plateau Point was brutal. Also, do not underestimate the need for electrolytes, as my 46-year old legs were cramping badly on the last mile to the top. What a great trail!

Clubfoot Kolby
Apr 18, 2010

I have done a lotta hikes in the Canyon, I think the best one that I have done was in March of 2010, We started down the south kaibab late so the ice was not too bad, stayed a couple of days at Bright Angel campgroud then we hiked out on the Bright Angel trail. March was the best time that I have ever been in the canyon, the temps were in the low seventies, long days, made for an easy hike out. November is just as nice but the days are to short. I always try to stay in good shape for my hikes by walking 3 to 5 miles every night during the work week, and hike on the eek ends, I am very lucky to live in Prescott Valley AZ, The prescott national forest has a lot of great hike toget us ready for our canyon hikes

Johnny Smooth
Apr 05, 2010

I've done 4 "Rim to Rim to Rim" single-day runs/hikes and about to do my 5th in ~4 weeks. (Bright Angel to N Kaibab and back the same way - fastest was just over 13 hours total) Whether going in April/early-May or Oct/Nov, we always start at approx 3:00/3:30 a.m. to get an early start despite the darkness. With proper lights, it's not only sufficient, but also relatively safe and fun - especially with a full moon. Train properly, listen to your body, and you'll be okay. If not, you could be added to "the book"...just sayin'. ;-)

Shauna
Mar 17, 2010

I've done 3-5 day backcountry hikes in mid-March, mid-May, early September and this year, early June. Loads of day hikes in the spring and summer months. Here's my 2 cents:

How you prepare for the Grand canyon hike, whether you're just doing a day hike to the 1/2 mile rest house on Bright Angel, or a multiple day backcountry permit hike, is the same. Cardiovascular endurance first and foremost from running, riding, hiking. A close second is conditioning - strength training, climbing up and down stairs even, with a pack on your back. Regardless of 3-6 months of training, I always end with at least a little soreness. It's a lot of elevation change over proportionally short distances. Tough on the body. Whenever you rest, elevate your legs slightly (check for snakes and scorpions). It helps to reduce the effects of lactic acid.

What you need varies to a certain degree on when you go. But the one accessory I most reccommend are trekking poles. Aluminum is light and so many are shock absorbing these days. On my first trip I scavneged an abandoned stick a previous hiker had used and have never turned back. It takes pressure off of everything that is strained, exhausted and overworked and when all other elements are working against you, it really helps.

If it's monsoon season (mid-August thru October) bring reliable rain gear and know how to deal with the psychological torture that the Bright Angel trail becomes when the dry mule droppings becomes streams of liquid washing over you.

The winter months, as others have pointed out, in-step crampons, unless you want to slide a good distance on your bottom, which I've done.

Summertime, hands down, water, food, shade-making accessories. Soak everything every time you can. I have personally experienced hyponatrimia on a trip down South Kaibab, which, honestly, I think is much more dangerous than Bright Angel, just statistically less travelled -no shade, no water, no mercy. I'm not a big fan of cotton, as some folks reccommend. It's true that it holds moisture longer after a good soak, but it also holds sweat. This helps your body lose water a little slower but it makes me unbearably uncomfortable. I opt for ultralight LONG SLEEVE (protects you from severe sunburn and yes, keeps you cooler than short sleeves) materials like Capilene and a spray bottle.

Also, the "Death Zone" is not this article author's journalistic exaggerations. This is what Park officials call it. Because that's what it is. The Tonto platform and the Devil's Corkscrew radiate SO MUCH HEAT even when the air temp is only 100 to 110, it feels like 120 to 130. At these temperatures, the human body just can't cool off. All of the distressed hikers I've ever come across and anyone I've seen air lifted out - all from the death zone.

I haven't done much night hiking, but I've seen many rangers and hikers pass through camps at night. As long as you're on a corridor trail and have a good flashlight + or - the moon, it's perfectly reasonable. And if you're heading up Bright Angel, I'd say it's even preferrable - less crowded, no mules, quiet and cool.

The Backcountry Office has scores of helpful fact sheets and a video for first time hikers. They also answer an information line starting at 1pm MST. They know those trails better than anyone else and they are always happy to chat. I definitely reccommend giving them a call if you're unsure about any aspect of your hike!

Per-Ola
Mar 01, 2010

Some people in these comments seem to dissuade people hiking the Canyon at night with headlamps. As noted below, in full moon light, I would say it is a "mythical" experience and would suggest anyone (with good outdoors' skills) to try it.
Like anywhere off the beaten path, you have to know your limits and what you are doing.

Per-Ola
Mar 01, 2010

One of the best speed hikes ever was a totally unplanned run down Bright Angel Trail (2h20m to the river) in the afternoon on April 3rd, 1998, followed by a lonely speed hike up Kaibab Trail (3h45m).
Hiking in these areas alone, with only the full moon and the wind as constant companions on the way up was truly amaziing, and something I wish my wife will be able to expereince one day as well.
EVERYONE I talked to that day said it was nuts leaving that late in the afternoon for the river, but I felt strong and the weather was great, after a two days of heavy snowfall (in Flagstaff).
River was quickly reached, and only setback was that dinner was sold out at the Ranch, but I had snacks and water so I was in no dire straits. Starting up around 6PM I met a few hikers on their way down. It got dark quickly but full moon, and when needed, a headlamp led the way up.
Only thing I would caution if hiking this alone is that this time of year, some parts of the trail can be VERY icy close to the rim (melting snow/mud freezes again in the evening), and the fact that when getting up and you have your car in the Village, there might not be many cars to hitch hike with. I got lucky, made it back to the Village, and scored the very last meal (chili and milk) in a restaurant that was to close for the evening. After a long drive up to Page, a nigth in a motel, I hardly could get out of bed the next day. Sore and stiff, but also very, very, content. This trip was followed by two weeks of great skiing in Alta and north.
Best singles trip ever - 5 weeks on the roads out west, sleeping both in the car, as well as high priced places.

Greenmountainboy
Feb 06, 2010

I will be doing a rim-to-rim hike this spring, from south rim to north rim. Anyone have insights into what I should expect going up the North Kaibab trail?

Cheryl
Jan 22, 2010

I'm doing my fourth down and back trip this summer - Mid August and I'm taking my 10-year old grandson along. We will spend two nights on the bottom. Many of the comments above clearly identify the need to use common sense. There is nothing wrong with taking the hike slow and savoring the experience. Our plan is to go slow and stop once an hour to nibble on salty snacks. We will have our camelbacks plus backup water bottles in case they're needed. I have been on the bottom when the temps were in the 100's and it's hot but not unbearable hot. Coming from Minnesota, we understand the effect of humidity. We're looking forward to another fabulous hike. Happy Trails!

Glen
Jan 15, 2010

Me, my brother, and a friend hiked this trail back in 2008. The article is right; going down is easy, going up is hell. My only advice is to pace yourself and bring plenty of water; I brought a camelback bladder-full and 2 water bottles and I ran out 3/4 of the way back up. Once we got some more water from an overly-generous fellow hiker we were able to complete the trail, rim-to-river, in 6 hours. Good luck and happy trails.

Brenda
Jan 14, 2010

I've hiked the canyon a couple times in the summer, up SK down BA. What's helped me the most going up is soaking my clothes in the creek or water faucets any time I got the chance.

Jeff
Jan 11, 2010

I had to smile at one persons comment on how it may have been better to do the mule ride down. All I could recall as I assended Bright Angel were the pained looks of those perched on their mule having every bone jostled, dressed in long pant on a hot sweaty animal and try to look like they were having fun. I'll take the walk up and down myself any day! Slow and steady wins the race!

bryan
Jan 08, 2010

My wife,daughter and I did a rim to rim GC hike two years ago in early August. 120 degrees at Phantom Ranch. We hiked early and avoided the heat of the day. We completed the 27 miles in 3 days. I would never attempt a down and back hike on the same day.
We returned last week with other relatives and went down and back Bright Angel with two nights spent in the hiker dorms at Phantom Ranch. The snow on the top third of the trail was absolutely beautiful. Temps were in the 20's on top and 40's at the river.
Having completed this hike on a hot day and a cold day I think I'll shoot for spring or fall! It is truly a wonderful hike if you are prepared. We are 56 and had no difficulties. One gent who beat me out was 75!
Both times we were prepared, had the correct equipment, and hiked smart and slow.

Sam
Jan 08, 2010

We are planning to hike in the last week of May. To avoid heat, we are planning to start hiking from the Bright angel campground early moning.Is it safe to start hiking back up at 3AM? What time the light comes up?

What precautions should we take for this early moring hike?

Jon S
Jan 04, 2010

The "Death Zone?" Give me a break. Hiking anywhere requires intelligence. Local knowledge is a must. Best months to hike for no searing heat at the bottom and no snow to make the trail dangerous near the top would be late March through May 1; and or late Oct. early Nov.

The real danger is on the Canyon's Tonto Trail which runs the length of GCNP. Beautiful, enticing, relatively easy, with lazy rolling hills to navigate. But it can kill you much quicker than the superhighway Bright Angel. The Tonto, heavily traveled in and of itself, gives way to much exposure (excepting a side canyon with morning or late afternoon shade). The Tonto provides many places for a 1000-foot fall where the trail is literally inches from the edge of the inner gorge.

The area that comes to my mind is on the Tonto between the South Kiabab and Grandview trails. Put that section in your top 10!

The Grand Canyon secret - hike the toughest part while in the shade. The easiest when (you have to be) exposed. For the Bright Angel - a rim-to-river hike in one day should begin no later than 8 a.m. And this can be done with comfort. Coming out from the bottom, hike the "Death Zone" as the author calls it - in the early morning. You may never lose shade and cool temps on the stretch to Indian Gardens. Plus you catch water at Pipe Creek once you top out on the edge of the inner gorge. I've seen the real heavily traveled death zones down there!

Claire
Jan 03, 2010

Why torture yourself? For the best hike, go when the weather is usually good: mid-October to early April. Advice for the first-timer, take one slow day down the Kaibab Trail, stay overnight at Bright Angel campground. Wander over to Phantom Ranch for a lemonade or beer. The next day, go to Indian gardens. It is a beautiful hike, and pretty short. Take a rest, then carry your food and cooking gear out to Plateau Point for sunset. The next day ascend the rest of the way in the morning coolness. You may never do this again, so stop often to enjoy the spectacular scenery.

Rick
Dec 31, 2009

Three friends, a guide ,and I hiked rim-to-rim in June, 2008. We each carried about 40 lbs., including 4 liters of water at all times. At almost every water source, we soaked our hats and shirts with water.
My best advice is to hike with someone who has made the hike previously. The tendency is to push until you're tired. If you don't pace yourself, drink, and eat snacks, you will suffer.
We made the hike in 4 days, with only a few blisters and muscle soreness. We trained by hiking in our boots with 30-40 pounds in our packs. I built up to 5 miles non-stop in 2 hours.
It was an awesome trip that I hope to do again soon!

Winter hiking has risks also
Dec 31, 2009

Last trip into the Canyon with my gamily was late Feb. We went down S. Kaibab to Phantom Ranch. Spent two nights and explored the bottom of the canyon. Then up Bright Angel to Indian Gardens and out on the fourth day. The top of the Canyon was buried in snow and crampons were highly recommended on the upper trails. As there was over a foot of snow and a slide off of S. Kaibab could be truly exciting. Bright Angel has less chance to slide into oblivion but still slick beyond measure. So in the winter some additional equipment may be needed. Just an FYI

Connie
Dec 31, 2009

I did it in mid March. Cold with snow and ice on first mile but with Yak Trax did fine. I can't imagine doing the Grand Canyon when it is hot. You get warm enough the further down you go but I never felt HOT--just a pleasant warm.

Zack
Dec 31, 2009

My hiking partner and I (currently 57)have day hiked to the river and back 3 different times on the Bright Angel trail in the last 5~ years. The last 2 times were relatively easy since we trained for 6~ months, including taking weekly 5-12 hour hikes with long uphills and downhills. We also have hiked the BA trail in early May or October, and have been very lucky by having cool weather. The hikes are scheduled 5 months in advance, when hotel reservations are made- we will cancel the river and back day hike if the temperature does turn out to be too high. The key to an enjoyable hike seems to be adequate training, bringing plenty of food and drink (including electrolytes), proper clothing, and a cool temperature.

David V
Dec 31, 2009

The article misses the most obbious piece of advice: Don't attempt a rim-to-river-and back in a day, particularly in the summertime! I do Bright Angel a couple of times a year; once in the summer, and once in the winter, and here is what I recommend: Take two days to hike out, with an overnight stop at Indian Garden. The Devil's Corkscrew, below Indian Garden, is what the article refers to as the 'Death Zone', and they aren't kidding. It's not bad if you are fresh, and if you only have to go as far as Indian Garden. But I have known several people who had to be choppered out after crashing in the Corkscrew. The Canyon is an intelligence test--if you pass it, you live.

Gloria A
Dec 31, 2009

As a seasoned hiker and having made this trip myself - down South Kaibab and up Bright Angel in a 24 hr period back in 2003, I would never recommend anyone try this as a round trip in one day. I hiked up in 117 degree heat and suffered from heat exhaustion. I was, unfortunately, by myself but knew enough to pour water over my head and rest continuously. I would also never recommend making this hike at night with headlamps, as suggested by your magazine. That borders on ridiculous. The beauty of this hike can only be experienced in the daylight. If you have not conditioned yourself for this hike, don't even attempt it. It is not a walk in the park. The Bright Angel is hiker friendly, with a campground for resting and enough water stops for strong hikers. A lot of people hiking the day I was there did not belong on this trail, only due to inexperience. Accidents happen so I do not recommend anyone hiking this trail (or any trail) alone. I have learned over the years that when it comes down to you and nature, nature usually wins. Be prepared, carry snacks, plenty of water, and be in your best shape and you will experience the beauty of the canyon and remain to talk about it. Happy hiking.

Kiki
Dec 31, 2009

In Octorber, 2009 I hiked the Grand Canyon ro, tp water to rim. Starting at South Kaibab, to the river to Bright Angle in 9.5 hours. I'm 61 years old. The Bataan Memorial Death March Marathon held in White Sands, New Mexico is many x's tougher.

juswalkin
Dec 31, 2009

My wife and I first hiked the down the S.Kibab and up the Beight Angel over 3 days with stops at Cottenwood and Indian Garden. We enjoyed it so much but felt hurried, so we went back 7 months later and did a 5 day trip. We are both in our mid to late 50's and trained for 3 months before going, by driving to the top of our closes mountain and hiking down and back up. The training really makes the trip enjoyable.

Steve
Dec 31, 2009

Myself and two others just got our backcountry permit for April 19-21 to do the BA trail down and then two days to come back on the S. Kiabab trail. I am so looking forward to the hike of a lifetime. After the hike I will give details.

Steve
Dec 31, 2009

Myself and two others just got our backcountry permit for April 19-21 to do the BA trail down and then two days to come back on the S. Kiabab trail. I am so looking forward to the hike of a lifetime. After the hike I will give details.

Mary
Dec 31, 2009

I trained for the South Kaibab / Bright Angel round trip by hiking my local wooded dunes on Lake Michigan which are very steep. I avoided the "Kaibab Shuffle" (hamstring cramping) by doing this but nothing can prepare a hiker for the combination of heat, carried weight, etc. We went in early May, a good time, but still 100+ temps. All the advice given here is good...keep eating and drinking, rest, seek shade, wear proper boots. But my advise is to take two days to do the trip. It's so much more ENJOYABLE. Why rush? What are you trying to prove? After many hiking trips I've found that bragging rights mean nothing if you didn't have a good time!!

Dave Trenkner
Dec 31, 2009

Just got back from our rim-river-rim hike in Mid-Dec (SK down, BA up) with an overnight in BA campground. Hiking time was just over 9 hours (3:45 down, 5:15 up). Most everyone we saw on the SK seemed prepared for the conditions with layers and some form of winter traction, the BA was a completely different story...many people doing day hikes to 1.5mi, 3.0mi or Indian Creek had flat soled shoes (trails from 3.0mi to the rim was hardpacked and glaze ice) and we passed a group heading to Phantom (no tents, sleeping bags) that wouldn't get to Indian Creek until nearly 3pm (sunset at 5).

Morale of the story, BA attracts the most ill-prepared hikers regardless of time of the year. There are just less of them in Dec-Jan.

Imma
Nov 30, 2009

I think taking those mules down and up would be a lot better wouldnt it??? after reading all these posts I am very worried about hiking it.

Imma Nutt

Sylvia
Nov 14, 2009

I am going there the thanksgiving week and hoping to do an interesting but not too long hike... do you think this is a good time to take this hike and is going down and back half way more than 4 hours? I am inexperienced but not stuipid...will make sure I am prepared.

jpt51
Oct 31, 2009

Wife is a diabetic and while her dr gave the okay, she hasn't yet started training and we have a reservation @ Phantom Ranch May 13. We're flatlanders and used to hot weather but have no hills of appreciatable size to hike anywhere close. What training do you suggest.

Thomas
Oct 30, 2009

Bright Angel most dangerous? Sure, for idiots that don't have a clue, but the Bright Angel trail is the freeway of trails at Grand Canyon.

Colorado Pete
Oct 29, 2009

My first hike of the Canyon was in 1970 with 2 other men and 9 boys. We began at the North Rim over to the South Rim and back to the North Rim. Total of around 60 miles in 5 days. Out mistake was taking the hike at the end of May. There was still snow on the north rim but we encountered a temperature of 117 in the shade at the bottom! There were no injuries and no sickness among us during this hike. The Grand Canyon is still one of the most inspiring places that I have ever visited. I have hiked it a total of 3 times and always am impressed with the feeling of how small I am as I descend; how I am enveloped in it's beauty; how quiet it is; but also am aware of the dangers that can lurk around each bend in the trail. Yes, I have seen in the Canyon rattlesnakes, scorpions, skunks, ringtailed cats but bigger danger lurks in the lack of using common sense. Keep your eyes on the trail while walking; take adequate food and water; wear sensible clothing, brimmed hat, and boots with good soles. The Grand Canyon is aptly named. My friends and I are planning to hike a portion of it once again next year. Most of us are in our late 60's to mid-70's but we have the confidence that we can do without undue stress. Enjoy this beautiful, awesome place!

Rob B.
Oct 13, 2009

I do rim-to-rim every October. I leave before 5am. and get to the North Rim around 3:30. i don't get direct sun on me until I'm past Cottonwoods on the North trail. The return trip is somewhat easier but also warmer with more direct sun. I don't do summer rim trips anymore because the intense heat is dangerous and very draining. In October, the North Rim is still open and the water is still turned on. The physical preparation is important, but I've found that the mental aspect is much more important.

WB
Sep 01, 2009

If you are truly in shape and prepared for a one-day rim-river-rim hike, I would suggest descending South Kaibab and ascending Bright Angel. I've done this several times (even in the summer), and it is a great time.

Of course, I always run into people who are on the trails and are under-prepared in one way or another.

Matt Walker
Aug 14, 2009

Six ofthe young adults in my family (31-38) hiked down the South Kaibab, spent the night at Phantom Ranch, and headed back out the next morning on the Bright Angel. While neither were a piece of cake, the BA seemed harder, I think, because of the hike the day before. My feeling is this, you can't train for the canyon like you can train for a 10k. It is nearly impossible to mimic the conditions that the Canyon has in store for you. But, you do have to be in shape. On the way up the BA, we took plenty of H2O, stopped and ate ever mile and a half or so, and doused ourselves with water at the different water stations. It was 110 on the day we hiked out. We're no different than the 50+ hikers that did the same thing we did, but you just have to be smart. We saw a bunch of people wearing flipflops, little to no water, no hats to protect their heads from the sun, etc. You've got to know what you're up against. If you don't or just shrug it off, you'll pay for it.

chukie
Aug 12, 2009

I hike the BA twice a week for exercise, usually to Indian Garden. The danger is not the trail but the idiots who go down ill prepared and clueless to where they are going.
The dangerous part of the trail in the erosion caused by the mules. You have to pay close attention to avoid a turned ankle or worse.
The best time to hike RTR is October or March. You would have to be suicidal or an ultraathlete to do a RTR or even a rim to river in August. Attempting and failing is pretty selfish; you put the ranger EMT's and helicopter crews at risk when they have to fly you out.
There are more dangerous trails here at the Canyon...they are not as accessible as the BA for ill prepared tourists. The BA is considered dangerous solely because of the tourists making poor decisions.

Jerry Frey
Jul 06, 2009

The RTR is an awesome experience. I agree that the trail is tough, but not really dangerous (if you are prepared). My 23 year old son and I did the North Kaibab to Bright Angel route over two days in June of 2009. Our packs were too heavy as we had too much gear. We left at 4:38 AM from the North Rim and got to Phantom Ranch at 7:00 PM. We rested for 4 hours at Ribbon Falls, which was necessary due to the heat and the lack of shade on the trail... In the Box, it was over 100 degrees actual and probably about 120 ambient. We were lucky that we had a cool front !!! On Day Two - We left Bright Angel Campground and crossed the Colorado on the Silver Bridge about 7:30 - 7:45 which was too late. By the time we got to Indian Gardens, we were pooped (I am 55 but in good shape). The last 4.5 miles were tough. we reached the 1.5 Mile way shelter at 10:00 PM and had to rest for several hours. Made a morning snack and left at 6:45 AM and reached the South Rim after 8:00 AM. had the best breakfast ever at Bright Angel Lodge. I recommend the Rim to Rim skillet dish. It was one hell of an adventure and one of the most grueling hikes I have made - I have over 600 trail miles of experience in the Tetons, Weminuche, Pecos Wilderness, Big Bend and others. The heat just sucks the life out of you in the bottom of the Canyon. Its an undescribable journey. Would do again, but only in the winter !!!

Casey
Jun 20, 2009

Me and 3 other buddies hiked the Bright Angel on June 17th, 2009 and went from rim-river-rim in 8 hours and 30 minutes. The overall time was right at 10 hours due to the 1 hour and 30 minute rest at the river. It is possible to hike down and back in one day. After have done this, I do not recommend doing a rim-river-rim day. It was a very difficult hike. We all experienced either ankle or calf pains one we reached the top. Those pains continued for several days with each of us. Ages of us are 27,27,24,24. Each of us are in pretty good physical shape.

Will
Jun 16, 2009

Hiking the Grand Canyon in the winter is great. I hiked it in the winter when I was in 7th grade with my dad and I will be doing a day hike hopefully in a month. I definitely recommend hiking it in December or January. The views are better and you don't have to worry about the heat. If you do hike in the winter just bring crampons because there will be snow and ice.

Thank you for everyones comments it's helping get ready for my summer hike there.

Dave from Flagstaff
Jan 30, 2009

Opinion from a local: The Bright Angel is to the South Rim what the AT is to the East Coast. There are certainly more scenic and infinitely more difficult trails and routes in Grand Canyon than BR. The reason so many people have heat related issues on BR is that most obviously, there are SO... MANY... PEOPLE on it. Second, like the first person commented, it's NOT the nature of the trail itself: BR is easily the least demanding rim to river trail in all of Grand Canyon IMHO- It's wide and maintained, nontechnical, very well traveled, shaded in many spots, multiple water sources. Compared to what else is in Grand Canyon, BR is child's play. There's just a LOT of people on it, and MOST of those people are absolutely clueless when it comes to hiking safely in high desert country and are often so un-used to real physical activity that a lack of water and air conditioning at literally every turn becomes a real threat on what really is a fairly easy Grand Canyon trail.
The problems experienced on BR do not reflect the character of the trail, merely the general ineptitude of most of the people on it.
As a local I avoid Bright Angel like the plague, I'm only grateful that it keeps the crowds away from the good stuff. Best time to visit Grand Canyon? Dead of Winter, hopefully during a nasty storm, and as far away from the South Rim as you can get.

Michael
Jan 29, 2009

You'v GOT to be kidding, right? Is this some kind of joke?
The BA is more dangerious that the Royal Arch route, the New Hance trail, the Tanner trail, the South Bass trail?
Get a grip. It is traveled by people who do not have a clue (high heels, blue jeans in summer, no carried water) and they get in trouble. It is NOT the trail, it is the Bozos.

Jordan
Jan 26, 2009

I definitely agree that the Bright Angel Trail is a very difficult trail - almost solely because of the hike back up. I did the rim-to-the-Colorado-and-back-in-one-day thing in August 2007 and while I'm in pretty good shape, I was with two people who weren't. That said, if people know their limits and prepare, it can be accomplished. Obviously the trail isn't for everyone but it can be tackled with the right planning. There are numerous water sources along the trail but do not depend on them - take a water filter or a SteriPen in the event something happens. I carried nearly 200 oz. of water (two bladders and two Nalgene bottles), electrolyte replacement mix, a generous amount of trail mix, and some granola. Be on the trail before the sun rises and set a turn-around time. For us, we said that we were going to stop at 11:00 AM, have lunch and relax, and then turn around no matter where we were. It turned out that we got the Colorado before then so we cooled off underneath some trees and had lunch along the river before starting back up. The hike back is brutal - there is no way around it. Hiking 4000 feet up in 8 miles or so is very difficult but pace yourself and stay hydrated. The key for me, I believe, was to just keep drinking water to the point that I never felt thirsty. There is a ranger station at Indian Gardens (around milemarker 5) if you run into any problems.

KKM
Jan 24, 2009

You can hike it anytime, but be prepared for ice or snow in February. I was there in early May last year or so and there was a couple-of-inches-snowfall at the South Rim campground. There are no narrow ledges on the taril.

Karen Mesikapp
Jan 24, 2009

You can never depend on the water sources.I've seen guys on the trail repairing the pipelines after breaking. Or there are probably other things that can happen to the water supply, too.

SAM
Jan 22, 2009

Do the 5 to six liters of water need to be carried or can I depend on water at the designated spots on the trail map?

Lu
Jan 14, 2009

We are planning a trip to the GC in February. Is that too early to hike the Bright Angel trail for a 3-day backpack? Also, are there any narrow ledges to negotiate? Thanks.

Craig Buchalter
Jan 13, 2009

In 1997 I hiked down the north rim on the north kaibab trail. On the accent a few days later my group and I tried to hike up and out of the canyon in one day. Big mistake. We ran out of water about half way up and I became dehydrated. I made it out O.K. but, six month later I got kidney stones from being dehydrated. In 1999 I went down the Bright Angel Trail and over compensated with the water. I made sure to drink as often as possible. My problem was I did not take in enough food the night before the hike or that day. My friends and I made it to the Phantom ranch with no problem. Except I felt terrible. I could not cool off for anything. Then I passed out and the rangers put me in a wheel barrel and took me to their station. I found out that I had something known as hypernatremia or water intoxication. I needed to be air lifted out of the canyon the next day. Because this is a life threatening condition. The trail is tough enough but, I believe it is the human mistakes that will hurt you even more .

Beaux
Jan 08, 2009

You should be careful at the Canyon. I did not do Bright Angel but did go down and up Bright Angel with is supposed to be tougher with no water or shade. I am in a little better than average shape. I did get a little dehydrated one day, my own fault. But we made it with no real problem. Never underestimate the Grand Canyon.

David V
Jan 02, 2009

I absolutely agree with your calling Bright Angel one of the ten most dangerous trails in America. I would go one step farther, as the Park Service does, and advise people not to go down to the Colorado River and back in one day!

r
Nov 29, 2008

March 1984 a friend and I started down the South Kaibab trail at 9 a.m. for a short look; were just going maybe a half mile or so to look around. Had 1/2 gallon of water (in a gallon jug) between us and a few granola bars. Three hours later we were at the bottom (3 miles). We decided to go downriver a ways and up the Bright Angel Trail for variety. We were able to refill water at the bottom and at Indian Gardens (as I recall). By the time we got to Indian gardens it was getting dark, and no moon. A ranger loaned us a flashlight and we made it to the top by 9 p.m. After satisfying a ravenous hunger at the lodge restaurant, some kind person have us a ride to the other trail head. Heat was not a big issue then in early spring, but fatigue and lack of conditioning were. We were better prepared the next time.

azhiker96
Nov 19, 2008

Ive hiked the canyon several times including two RTR runs. I have always seen unprepared people having a much different adventure than they expected. One rule of thumb, check the temperature forecast in Phoenix. That's what you'll likely experience at the bottom.

greg
Nov 17, 2008

When I saw your "most dangerous hikes" tease, I didn't expect Bright Angel to be the culprit, but it probably is most used and abused of the trails. Every time I have hiked out of the canyon on the Angel, I have seen people doing things that defy all common sense. I have seen a teen boy running (down-no visable water); parents leading and/or carrying small children with a 2 liter bottle of Coke to drink; a lady pretty much dressed for church with (I hope) water in her purse... I could go on, but just know that the concentration of Tourons (Tourist+morons) is heavy on this main highway to the river. I would only hike at night out of neccessity. Moonlight hiking is great, but I'm there for the view.

Mark
Nov 16, 2008

For the inept, inexperienced and out-of-shape, yes it's dangerous but for people who fit that bill, even walking a mile on an uneven trail in beautiful weather can be just as dangerous. I came upon that scenario last week where the woman had a compound ankle fracture laying on the trail alone.
But speaking about Bright Angel, my so far one-and-only time in the Grand Canyon was a moonlight hike mid-July this year. Started at 11 pm, down to the river by 2:00 am, stayed 30 minutes then headed back up arriving at 6:30 am. Yep, I felt pretty wiped out but I'm 58 and hadn't hiked in 6 months so it was an accomplishment. Moonlight is great, never turned on my flashlight and didn't even get into my water reserves, 100 oz of Gatorade in my CamelBak was enough. Yes, I was well hydrated before the hike, yet I didn't need any more than the ordinary afterward.

Jim
Nov 14, 2008

My sister and I hiked down and back in 24 hours in July 1985. We started down at 8am and hung out with people at Phantom Ranch until midnight, sleeping on picnic tables for a bit. When we hiked up the moon was full and we didn't need lights, and it was like walking in a lunar landscape. We napped on the way up (on picnic tables) and got back to the top around 8am.

Bob
Nov 14, 2008

We've done the South Kaibab down, camped at Phantom, then out by Bright Angel, two times. Hot? Yes. But 5 qts of water helped. Only real problem was being dumb. Took sleeping bag, cooking gear, and way too much (60# plus) the first trip. Second trip was all non-cook food and a sheet for sleeping. The scenery, the sense of vastness and wonder, and the moon-rise were all worth it!! Thanks for helping bring back these wonderful memories.

Jennifer
Nov 14, 2008

I was there this past October hiking the rim to rim. We saw two different people on the Bright Angel that needed assistance to get out of the Canyon. NEVER under estimate the dangers of the trails in the Grand Canyon!

Alan Roman
Nov 14, 2008

A couple of years ago I visted the canyon in August and I belived that I hike the angel trail but only as far as the first sign, almost bought the farm going back up, I didn't have enough WATER.

Don Reed
Nov 14, 2008

My wife and I trained for 5 months before going and hiked down the south Kaibab in one day and up the Bright Angel in two days, stopping at Indian Garden for the night. Found it so enjoyable that we booked a trip again 7 months later and did a 5 day trip, two days down on the Bright Angel with a stop at Indian, one free day at Cottonwood/Phantom and the same on the way up. We are both in our 50's, but with the proper training and conditioning and hiking smart it is a truly awsum place.

Frances
Nov 14, 2008

I did the Bright Angel Trail in the first weekend of November last year. While the heat was not an issue, it was chilly, and you sweat, so you must have appropriate clothing that will wick moisture away to keep you dry. Though it was not as dangerous as hiking mid-summer, it is still physically taxing and can be dangerous to an inexperienced hiker or tourist. Both of which I saw decending during my accent to the rim.

Jon
Nov 14, 2008

I can say that in April, the canyon is a fantastic hike! No crowds at all. Of course if you want to stay at the South Rim, you will still need to book 6 months in advance...even if you go during the slower months. Why anyone goes in the summer time is beyond me. When I went went with my wife back in April of 2002, there was hardly any tourists and there was still snow at the top of the trial. The temp at the top of the trail was about 50F and we did not start our decent until about 11am - very late for this type of hike. We wore many layers of clothing as when we descended lower into the canyon, the temperature raised to about 75F. BEAUTIFUL! We were all alone and could hear the wings of the birds as they flew 100s of meters from us.

The key for us was to allow for at least 2x the amount of time to go back up the trial to the south rim. In our case, we hiked 2 hours down and gave ourselves 4 hours to hike back up. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT. I dont agree with hiking in the dark unless you are very experienced. We arrived back at the South Rim parking lot at about 5pm and it was getting dark.

I personally would never hike this park in summer. Avoid the crowds and enjoy comfortable weather. Go in the March/April or October/November. The North Rim is only open in the late spring, summer and early fall months, so plan on going to the South Rim and book far in advance!

Mike Ruetten
Nov 14, 2008

It's not the trail that's dangerous; to the point of earlier posts, it's the lack of planning on the hiker's part. I'm not saying it's not a tough jaunt...but c'mon Backpacker; REALLY? There are several other trails in the Grand Canyon that are far more treacherous due to their respective exposure, extreme elevation gains and remote locations. If anyone considers Bright Angel "dangerous" (relative to other routes down into The Hole), they didn't do the research and should therefore stick to a walk around the neighborhood lake.

Randy Clark
Nov 14, 2008

Hiked the Bright Angel at the end of April. Cool day started around 7am after breakfast. Rested every half mile to mile. Had no trouble all the way down. My Dad hiked the canyon five times in his life time and never had any trouble. He went in the cool months.He would spend the night in the bunkhouse and return the next day.I love that trail. It is the Best!!!
Thank You

Glen
Nov 14, 2008

Take a shuttle to the South Kaibab trailhead and come back up via the Bright Angel Trailhead. I suggest doing the shuttle first as we got stranded when we found the buses stopped running in the early evening.
We had top take a cab to our car at the South Kaibab trailhead. Go only when rim temperatures are around 55-60 degrees for the high temperatures for the day. A wonderful hike. April early May is best, longer days then October.

Mike Ruetten
Nov 14, 2008

It's not the trail that's dangerous; to the point of earlier posts, it's the lack of planning on the hiker's part. I'm not saying it's not a tough jaunt...but c'mon Backpacker; REALLY? There are several other trails in the Grand Canyon that are far more treacherous due to their respective exposure, extreme elevation gains and remote locations. If anyone considers Bright Angel "dangerous" (relative to other routes down into The Hole), they didn't do the research and should therefore stick to a walk around the neighborhood lake.

Richwon4
Nov 14, 2008

The Bright Angel Trail is the "Highway" in and out of the Canyon. It is definitely the prime tourist choice. In and out you will see many that underestimate the ascent even below Indian Gardens sometimes and they think it is cute and funny that they are out of water. The trail itself is heavily traveled by mules thus making it a muddy mess in the spring. Scores of people do the river and back each year and turn out fine. The biggest thing is the time of year and water. Personally I would rather carry cramp-ons and do this in late March before the heat and the crowds. Anytime beyond that I could list a multitude of reasons to not even visit the park. Not for the faint of heart and body even during in March or October.

Mary Hansen
Nov 14, 2008

In your final paragraph you suggest descending before dawn and waiting until evening for the return. While this is the best option for a one day round trip I feel a one day trip should NEVER be encouraged at all. Considering the heat, altitude, weight of the water that one needs to carry, and other factors, even young hikers in the best of shape are often taken off guard by the difficulty of the trip. The only advantage I can think of making it down and back in one day is hiking without the weight of a full backpack. However, probably 90% of G.C. hikers have no clue how quickly they can be overcome by the hazards of the canyon. I don't think you should encourage one day trips.

FAF
Nov 13, 2008

Just crossed the inferno and connected with the Bright Angel trail. It was October and the forecast was mild 75 degrees tops. Well the forecast was wrong. It turned into a brutal 95 degree day. We had gallons of water so we were fine as backpackers. But we saw so day hikers that seriously underestimated the difficulty and turned back looking pretty dehydrated. So I agree with the article. It's dangerous. Maybe not to any reader here (cause we are informed), but to the hoards that visit the south rim. Yup there is plenty of danger there.

kfr326
Nov 07, 2008

Calling the Bright Angel a dangerous trail seems a little troubling . . .
Somewhere you should have mentioned that in April and October; the daytime temperatures are beyond perfect and the Bright Angel Trail really isn't at all dangerous. Watch for a big brown rattlesnake along the creek, just below Indian Garden. And don't feed the rabid squirrels hanging around the rest houses, ever!

Not to minimize the danger of hiking in 120F; but that's always true on any trail anywhere; if it's 120F.

Don't call the Bright Angel dangerous in April and October . . . It's not!

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