After an easier day hiking the Clear Creek Trail, my legs were feeling a whole lot better and ready for the climb up Bright Angel. While waiting for the sun to emerge above the canyon walls, I tried to warm up by drinking multiple cups of tea. Dan and I ate the last of our cold, smushed pumpkin muffins and left Bright Angel Campground around 9 AM.

Grand Canyon Bright Angel Trail
Silver Suspension Bridge over the Colorado River.

In the warmer months it is recommended to do the South Kaibab – Bright Angel loop in that direction for the views and because the Bright Angel trail has much more shade, so ascending it is not as hot as ascending South Kaibab. Also, the Bright Angel trail has water available year-round at Indian Garden, 4.5 miles from the rim.

The Bright Angel Trail was originally an Indian trail used by the Havasupai Indians to commute between the rim and Indian Garden. In the late 1800’s mining prospectors improved the trail. One of the miners saw that the tourist trade was more profitable than the mining trade and took control of the trail. He extended the trail from Indian Garden to the Colorado River and charged $1 for its use. In 1928, after a long battle, ownership of the Bright Angel Trail was transferred to the National Park Service [Bob’s Pixel’s – a great Grand Canyon resource]. Did this piece of information add to your life in some meaningful way? Emphatic ‘no’?

The Hike

via NPS

  • One way distance: 9.5 miles
  • Start elevation: 2,480 feet
  • End elevation: 6,860 feet
  • Elevation gain: 4,380 feet
  • Camping: Indian Garden (CIG) and Bright Angel Campground (CBG). No at-large camping permitted on Corridor Trails.

We hiked about a third of a mile to the bridge and crossed to continue along the mostly flat trail. As we were hiking the 1.7 miles along the river, this guy came crashing down the trail, happy and free. Until he saw us and then he froze like a statue. We watched each other for a few minutes and then Dan threw a rock in his direction to signal that we were done with the staring contest. Just to be clear, the mountain goat would have won.

Grand Canyon Bright Angel Trail

We both enjoyed the Bright Angel trail, maybe even more than the South Kaibib trail. South Kaibib was great for the descent, as the views were incredible. But the Bright Angel trail was a little more interesting and variable. We wound along the Colorado River for some time until the trail turned into a smaller canyon.

Grand Canyon Bright Angel Trail

Grand Canyon Bright Angel Trail

Grand Canyon Bright Angel Trail

Grand Canyon Bright Angel Trail

As we climbed the temperature started dropping and the patches of snow turned into thick layers, many feet deep. The views greatly improved with each switchback.

Grand Canyon Bright Angel Trail

Here we are near the top:

Grand Canyon Bright Angel Trail

The top third of the trail was pretty windy and cold so we decided to delay eating lunch until we got to the car. Well we ended up jumping on a shuttle bus that was going the opposite way around the loop, and spent an extra 30 minutes on the bus. I was feeling it, and Dan – having eaten approximately the same amount of bars as me – was turning a hypoglycemic shade of gray.

But we got back to the car around 3 PM and dove into lunch. Phew.

On our way out of the park we went to Hopi Point and Mojave Point which were incredible. And incredibly windy!

Grand Canyon Bright Angel Trail

Grand Canyon National Park Hopi Point

We then drove two hours south to Sedona for the second half of our trip.

To be continued!

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