Hiking Grand Canyon’s South Rim an awe-inspiring adventure

Hiking Grand Canyon’s South Rim an awe-inspiring adventure

Hiking Grand Canyon’s South Rim an awe-inspiring adventure
The view from Bright Angel Trail makes it one of the most popular places to hike in the park. (Kevin Parker photos)

Columns Hit the Trail(May 19, 2022) — South Rim of the Grand Canyon is probably the closest you’ll come to standing on the edge of the world, feeling small as you wonder how this all came to be.

Two families, 11 bicycles, 2 RVs and a spirit for adventure took us on an eight-day road trip built around visiting the Grand Canyon. South Rim sits at an elevation of 7,000 feet and, for visiting purposes, spans from Hermits Rest to Yaki Point.

We stayed at Trailer Village RV Park, an epic jump-off spot with a network of trails that put us easily at the canyon’s edge during our stay. Three days is the perfect amount of time to see South Rim; consider April for minimal crowds and cooler weather.

An absolute “must do” is getting up early and watching the sunrise over the Grand Canyon. That was just after 6 a.m. on our visit, so each morning we packed a thermos and bicycled to the rim for a light show of naturistic proportions. Sunsets along the rim are also popular, with too many vista points to count spread along the rim.

There are dozens of hiking options when visiting the South Rim. We had a fairly large hiking party with adults and kids of various ages, so we chose our trails and turnaround spots accordingly. I will highlight three of our favorites, not necessarily in order.

South Kaibab Trail

Roundtrip distance/ Skeleton Point: 6 miles
Roundtrip distance/
Ooh Ahh Point: 1.8 miles
Trail info: Very steep trail, cuts along the ridgeline, maintained dirt, minimal shade, mule traffic, no water on trail.
The trail cut into a massive wall, zig-zagging down into the canyon like a crazed hyena. The sudden elevation drop and other aspects of this trail made some nervous, while others found a hiker’s paradise.
Ooh Ahh Point was a favorite photo shot and a smart turnaround spot. For those who want more, consider hiking to Cedar Ridge.

Bright Angel Trail

Roundtrip distance/ Plateau Point: 12 miles
Roundtrip distance/
Second Tunnel: 1.8 miles
Trail info: Most popular hiking trail in the park, wide views of inner canyons, tucked deep inside canyon along massive fault, trail tunnels, mule traffic, water is seasonally available on trail.
Mules on trails is a real thing here at South Rim, and these animals can climb a canyon. Our group passed a string of mules and their riders as we began our descent on Bright Angel. This trail offers easy access, cool cave-like features and so many views along the trail that you’ll need to remind yourself to watch your footing.
Expect lots of switchbacks and trail traffic. Most importantly, don’t lose track of your elevation loss. Remember: What you hike down, you must hike back up.

Rim Trail

Distance/South Kaibab Trailhead to Hermits Rest: 13 milesTrail info: Can be accessed via three separate shuttle bus routes, with more than 12 stops that allow hiking individual sections of trail. Mostly paved trail, hikers and bikers allowed on most portions of trail, water and restrooms available, scenic views along the rim’s edge the entire hike.

Do not miss this trail. Let me repeat: Not to be missed.

This trail has the best views at South Rim and offers some of the easiest access and routing in the park. Some group favorites included hiking Hermits Rest to Pima Point, Hopi Point, Powell Point, Trail Overlook and Yaki Point. If you want to bike this entire route, consider renting an e-bike at Bright Angel Bicycles.

No excuses because you can hike, bike, ride a shuttle, load bikes on shuttles or any combination of these activities to cover this entire trail.
The Grand Canyon and especially all the offerings of South Rim were a recipe for a memorable trip that highlighted the true wonders of nature. Kudos to the National Park Service for providing such excellent outdoor opportunities and “get too close for comfort” access. Get out there.

Contact Kevin Parker with comments or questions by email at LukeHollywood@gmail.com