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Secret Hikes: Hiking Grand Canyon National Park

Surprise: This park's busy corridor trails offer a fast track to a private slice of heaven.
Grand CanyonSeasonal Cheyava Falls the tallest in the Grand Canyon. (Ramey Newell)

All Big Ditch trips serve up life-list scenery. Heck, you just have to walk to the edge for that. But treks that come with scenery and solitude are usually really hard, really remote, or both. Not this one. The 42-mile, five- to six-day out-and-back off the South Rim has a rare combo of easy access and the chance to explore a gaping side canyon that few hikers ever see. Bonus: Water is more plentiful on this route than many other Grand Canyon hikes, meaning lighter loads.

Descend the well-traveled South Kaibab Trail to Bright Angel Campground. Day two, crank out nine steep miles on the Clear Creek Trail to lonely Clear Creek, in a deep tributary canyon. Even on its most “crowded” nights during prime hiking season, the Clear Creek camping zone (AK 9) averages just 10 people spread across four dispersed sites. Stay two nights creekside and explore: Head down canyon to the Colorado River (six miles round-trip) or, better yet, hike Clear Creek’s northeast arm to Cheyava Falls (eight miles round-trip). The 800-foot cascade (best in spring or after a storm) shoots straight out of the Redwall layer on the canyon’s North Rim. Spend night four at Bright Angel Campground, then climb the Bright Angel Trail—more shaded than the South Kaibab—to the South Rim; or break up the ascent with a night at Indian Garden.

›› Magic Moment Eyeballing the big flat rocks on the rim of Zoroaster Canyon, at mile 5.5 on the Clear Creek Trail, you take a loooong lunch break and savor the view across Zoroaster toward the vast sweep of soaring buttresses and curving walls of Ottoman Amphitheater and Cape Royal.

›› Local Knowledge Look for bighorn sheep on the steep, one-mile stretch between Phantom Overlook and the Tonto Plateau.

›› Do It Free shuttle buses serve both trailheads. Map Trails Illustrated Grand Canyon #207 ($12; natgeomaps.com)
Contact (928) 638-7888; nps.gov/grca

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