South Rim Trail: Visitor’s Center to Bright Angel Trail Hike
|In This Guide|
|Distance||3 miles (4.8 km)|
|Hike Time||1-1.5 Hours (Total)|
|Total Ascent (?)||-300 feet (-91m)|
|Highest Elevation||6,820 feet (2079m)|
|Fees & Permits||National Park Entry Fee|
|Park Website (?)||Grand Canyon National Park|
|Stay In Touch||Newsletter - Instagram - YouTube - Facebook|
Instead of driving to the attractions on the South Rim, here’s a great easy hike that you can do instead. You’ll follow the paved Rim Trail away from the crowds at the Visitor’s Center to take in Mather Point, the Geology Museum, the Trail of Time, Verkamp’s, Hopi House, and all the Bright Angel attractions. In between the sights, the Rim Trail meanders along the South Rim, with dozens of unique vistas and viewpoints where you can take in the majesty of the Canyon. At the end of the hike, you hop on a free shuttle bus back to your car at the Visitor’s Center.
Want a similar hike that gets away from the crowds? Try the Rim Trail hike to the South Kaibab Trail.
Don’t forget to check out my Grand Canyon hiking tips here!
Getting to the Trailhead
This hike conveniently starts right at the Grand Canyon Visitor’s Center, the first stop for many folks coming to the Grand Canyon’s South Rim. If you’ve been driving for a while and just want to stretch your legs and get away from the crowds, this hike is a great option.
Here is the Visitor Center address:
Grand Canyon Visitor Center, S Entrance Rd, Grand Canyon Village, AZ 86023
There are multiple lots at the Visitor’s Center and there are always people coming and going, so if at first you don’t find a spot, keep driving around. The Visitor’s Center also a free offers shuttle bus service to all the attractions on the South Rim, so it’s a good place to use as a base.
Gear for the Hike
This is more of an easy walk than a hike, and you can get away with everyday clothing here. If you do have fitness or hiking clothes, it will make the hike more pleasant. You should bring 1L of water with you, but if you only have a smaller bottle, there are multiple places to refill along the hike.
Weather can be extreme at the Grand Canyon. In the winter there can be snow and ice, and in the summer the temperatures can be high. Wear the appropriate clothing for the conditions. If there are thunderstorms in the area it’s best not to do this hike.
The La Sportiva Spire boots feel like comfortable sneakers but offer the protection of hiking boots. They’re great on everything from short hikes to longer hikes of 10+ miles. You don’t want to skimp on your feet.
Reviews & Lowest Prices: Women – Men
I test a lot of gear, and for short to medium day hikes, travel, and everyday use, the Osprey Stratos (men) and Osprey Sirrus (women) are consistently the best. They’re lightweight, hold a hydration bladder to make drinking water easy, have lots of pockets to organize gear, and most importantly, are incredibly comfortable. Check out the reviews; they are impressive.
Reviews & Colors Here: Osprey Stratos (men) and Osprey Sirrus (women)
If you’re not familiar with the Garmin InReach technology, it allows you to send and receive text messages where you don’t have cell phone signals. You can also get weather reports and trigger an SOS to emergency responders. Even if you don’t have an emergency, sending a quick message telling a loved one that you’re okay or are running late is well worth the cost. The Mini fits in your palm and weighs next to nothing. Read my review and see the lowest prices and reviews at REI (or Amazon).
Here’s my complete gear list that I personally use, have tested, and recommend, updated January 2020.See All of My Best Gear Picks Here
No company pays me to promote or push a product, all the gear you see here is gear I use and recommend. If you click an a link and buy gear, I get a small commission that helps offset website expenses. There is no cost to you.
This is one of the only hiking trails in the Grand Canyon where you can bring leashed pets. Unfortunately they are not allowed on the shuttle bus, so if you do this hike with a pet, you’ll have to walk back.
The Rim Trail is a wide and well maintained (and often paved) walking path that stretches a total of 13 miles along the South Rim. This hike is entirely paved and only has some small, gradual ups and downs. There are no climbs or hard parts. It’s easy to follow and there are lots of signs, so it’s a great beginner’s hike. Even if you are an experienced hiker, the trail is spectacular as it follows the rim and offers lots of great viewpoints and South Rim attractions.
South Rim Trail: Visitor’s Center to Bright Angel Trail Hike Map Downloads
Download the Hike GPX File
View a Printable PDF Hike Map
Visitor’s Center to South Kaibab Trail Hike Directions
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Mather Point is named after Steven Mather, a millionaire businessman, conservationist, friend of John Muir, and creator of the National Parks Service. If you’re interested in learning more about the Grand Canyon, Mather, and the National Parks in general, I highly recommend watching the Ken Burns National Parks documentary. It will add a deeper appreciation to your visit at the Grand Canyon and any National Park.
Use extreme caution when near the edge. Don’t go off the trail right to the edge unless there is a railing. Don’t take selfies on the edge. You might think most deaths occur from hikers deep in the wilderness, but that’s not the case. More people die on the South Rim. In 2019 three people ignored warnings and fell from the edge of the canyon in one week. There’s nothing dangerous about this hike or visiting as long as you follow the rules. If you go off the trail and start taking selfies, who knows?
That’s the hike! Wasn’t that better than driving? From here you can get a shuttle bus back to the Visitor’s Center (more below), explore Bright Angel and grab a bite, or maybe do a short hike down the Bright Angel Trail.
Getting The Shuttle Bus
Did something change on this hike? If so, please contact me and let me know. I'll update the guide.