June 17, 2010
Hiking in the Grand Canyon can be really difficult, but very rewarding. There are many different lengths to choose from and levels of hardness. There are short rim walks right along the edge, cleared paths onto lookout points just in the canyon, short 2 mile hikes and then 4, 5, 6+ mile hikes all the way down to the bottom of the Canyon. The most important thing to remember is the high elevation and the steep incline/decline. If your hike down takes 30 minutes your hike up will take an hour. The hike up will be about double the time it took for you to get down. When my dad and I reached our turn around point on the North Rim I felt like I could do way more, but going back up was hard and I am so glad we didn’t go further or I would have had to sweet talk my way onto a mule to get back up. We met a couple on the plane who came up with an interesting alternative to hiking the whole canyon. They hiked the whole way down, which is long and hard (a whole day hike), but it is down the whole way and manageable if you are in decent shape. The way up is the hard part, so instead they stayed overnight at Phanton Ranch (the camp at the bottom) and then river rafted out. I won’t suggest any companies here like I sometimes do, because there are a bunch and not having tried one I don’t want to suggest something I haven’t experienced first hand. But it sounds like an awesome alternative that I would love to go back and do someday soon!
Mule rides are an option if you want to explore farther than you can walk, but they can be very uncomfortable and bumpy rides, there is also not the best footing and there have been some injuries in the past, they’re rare, but they happen. If you have limited time like we did I would highly suggest a hike and a helicopter ride over a mule ride. More details on the helicopter ride to come soon! I spoke with some people who loved their mule ride, so really à chacun son goût.
We hiked the Bridle Trail, which was 1.2 miles roundtrip, not bad at all and had a beautiful lookout point at the turn around spot. You can check out info about the trails here along with some tips and information. The basic points to remember are to stay hydrated, eat enough food, and wear good sneakers or hiking boots.
If you don’t want to hike at all you can take a short walk on an even path out to a gigantic rock that juts out into the canyon for an amazing view. Warning: do not do if you are afraid of heights! I do not have a fear and even I felt a little scared up there with the strong wind.
Be sure to keep your eyes open for fun critters and birds. We saw deer, chipmunks, squirrels, lizards and so many birds including an adorable nest with three babies built right into the side of the canyon.