What are the Different Grand Canyon Hiking Trails?

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  • Written By: Jessica Hobby
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 22 September 2019
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Located along the Colorado River in northern Arizona, the Grand Canyon offers a wide variety of hiking trails for outdoor enthusiasts of all calibers. The canyon is mostly located within Grand Canyon National Park. The National Park Service of the United States oversees all Grand Canyon hiking trails, which are called backcountry trails and are located on both the North Rim and the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. The backcountry trails are divided into four use areas based on their size, availability of campsites, ecological sensitivity and their history of use.

Corridor trails are Grand Canyon hiking trails recommended for beginning hikers and hikers who have never been to the canyon. The three corridor trails — Bright Angel, Cottonwood and Indian Garden — are the only maintained trails in the backcountry. They include paved roads to the trailheads, purified water stations, public restrooms, emergency phones and ranger stations. The corridor trails also offer campgrounds for hikers.

The National Park Service recommends threshold trails for hikers who have previously visited the Grand Canyon. The threshold trails are Cedar Spring, Clear Creek, Eremita Mesa, Granit Rapids, Hermit Creek, Hermit Rapids, Horn Creek, Horseshoe Mesa, Monument Creek, Point Sublime, Salt Creek and Wildforss. These trails are not maintained and they offer very few water resources and pit toilets. Only dirt roads lead to the trailheads.


Other Grand Canyon hiking trails in the backcountry are primitive trails. The eight primitive trails have no services for hikers and trailheads can only be reached with a four-wheel drive vehicle. The primitive trails are Boucher, Cremation, Grapevine, Hancecreek, Outlet, Robbers Roost, Swamp Ridge and Walhalla Plateau. Only very experienced hikers, especially those who are familiar with the Grand Canyon, should attempt exploring the primitive trails.

The final type of Grand Canyon hiking trails are wild trails. In the same fashion as primitive trails, wild trails offer nothing but the beauty of the landscape. Only highly experienced hikers who are familiar with the Grand Canyon should brave the wild trails, which include Cheyava, Greenland Springs, Phantom Creek, Scorpion Ridge, Thompson Canyon, Trinity Creek and Vishnu.

The wild trails are not developed and offer little to no water resources. In fact, the National Park Service recommends that hikers avoid the wild trails and the primitive trails during the summer because of extremely high temperatures that contribute to a lack of water. Hikers who attempt the wild trails must be skilled at finding routes, because the routes to the trailheads are not marked well and in some cases don’t exist.


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