How long does it take to hike the Bright Angel Trail? This question comes up rather frequently and it isn’t as easy to answer as one may think. The truth is, the amount of time it takes to hike the trail is up to the individual. Factors such as whether you are ascending or descending, how frequently one stops for breaks, outside temperature, and fitness level play a big role on how long the hike will be. Ascent or Descent Most people tend to think that hiking down or descending into the canyon is easier then hiking up, but the opposite is true in fact. This hike is nearly 5000 ft or 1 vertical mile elevation change, but just because you’re hiking the same exact trail doesn’t mean it’s the same type of hike when comparing a ascent up the Bright Angel trail at the end of your upper Grand Canyon raft trip to a descent down the trail at the start of your lower Grand Canyon raft trip. While it is true that hiking upwards or ascending is more taxing on the cardio vascular system and quadriceps muscles, it is the preferred route of avid hikers as they know the type of abuse that the joints take on a lower canyon hike down and into the canyon. There is no doubt that no matter which route you hike, you will be sore, but the calf muscles take the most abuse on a descent hike compared to other muscle groups. Stopping for breaks There are up to three watering holes along the trail although it should be noted that not all locations are always working. Pipeline breaks do occur from time to time so it is imperative to know this information before beginning your hike. You can find toilets and fresh drinking water at the 1.5 mile and the 3 mile rest stops as well as Indian Gardens. Many hikers will rest for a few minutes, consume an energy bar, lay on their back with their feet up for accelerated blood flow before continuing along with their hike. The more time one rests, the longer the hike so finding that sweet spot in terms on how long to actually rest while still remaining motivated is crucial. Temperature Depending on what time of year you hike, the temperature varies quite a bit along that trail. First of all, temperatures at the top of the south rim compared to the bottom of the canyon at any given point in time can fluctuate by 20 degrees or more due to elevation loss or gain. For example at 5am when most hike descents begin, the trailhead temperature reading at the top of the south rim in Grand Canyon Village could be as cold as 35 – 40 degrees during the months of April & May. Just one vertical mile below at that same time, the temperature can be in the 50’s or even low 60’s. Additionally, it is worth mentioning that mid summer hikes are among the toughest as temperatures in the canyon can rise to 115 degrees. It is always recommended that hikes up the bright angel trail should begin as early as possible as the first 2-3 miles are in direct sunlight. Grand Canyon Outfitters typically send their passengers up the trail between 7-8am early enough that the temperatures are still in the upper 70’s or low 80’s. By 10am or so, hikers should feel some relief as you’ll be in and out of shade mostly for the rest of the hike. As the day grows, so will the temperature however the elevation gain is on your side as this combats the growing temperatures. The higher you hike, the cooler the temperature. Fitness Level It goes without saying that overall fitness level plays a huge role on how long it takes to hike the Bright Angel trail. Everyone participating on a partial canyon Grand Canyon raft trip which requires this 9.5 mile strenuous hike should take it very seriously and prepare themselves plenty in advance. One can prepare for an upper canyon ascent hike with the use of a stair master as this simulates the upward stepping similar to what to expect on the Bright Angel trail. These hikes are more demanding on the cardio vascular system. Lower canyon hike descents are less demanding on cardio as your joints take the burnt of the abuse. It is important to be in good physical shape and at a healthy weight as excess weight adds more stress to your joints on the way down. Trekking poles are highly recommended as well, regardless of the direction of travel. Depending on many factors listed above, the average upper canyon hike ascent takes anywhere between 6-10 hours and a lower canyon hike descent can take anywhere between 5-7 hours on average. Grand Canyon raft trips with a hike via the ancient Bright Angel Trail make for an incredible combination of experiences. Being prepared for this hike is imperative in order to successfully complete this hike. Be smart and prepare well in advance and enjoy every moment of this bucket list adventure!