Guidebook

Classic Trail Runs of the Grand Canyon

Whether you’re planning a R2R2R traverse or simply looking for some exercise, this guidebook will pair you with your perfect run during your visit to the Grand Canyon

Description

The immense beauty of the Grand Canyon draws visitors from around the world. Stand alongside massive sandstone cliffs, cross the mighty Colorado River by bridge, explore red rock mesas, or simply reflect on the magnificent and vibrant landscape from above. No matter how you do it, these are the classic trail runs of the Grand Canyon that must be explored.

One of the most notable accomplishments in the ultra and trail running communities is the iconic Rim to Rim to Rim (R2R2R) traverse. There are two ways to complete the run: Bright Angel Trail or South Kaibab Trail. The South Kaibab Trail is shorter, but significantly steeper. Bright Angel is longer but offers multiple options for drinking water as you return to the South Rim. Many choose to descend South Kaibab and return via Bright Angel. As of 2019, the fastest known time (FKT) was held by Jim Walmsley at just 5h:55m:20s! Though this elite athlete completed the run in less than 6 hours, many runners allocate 12 – 15 hours for the feat, often departing before sunrise to finish by sunset.

For those seeking to avoid the logistics of the full Rim to Rim to Rim Traverse, consider a Rim to Rim run instead! This route can be shuttled or run as a loop utilizing the South Rim Trail. It passes through a variety of ecosystems, offers epic views, and visits both major thoroughfares into the canyon.

Branching out from the South Rim Visitor Center, you are welcomed by trail runs such as the Grandview Trail Loop to the east, or the Hermit and Dripping Springs Trails to the west. Lesser visited than others, these trails showcase the beauty and diverse terrain of the canyon, including its massive sandstone walls and numerous springs. Remnants of former mining operations can also be found as you explore these lesser-traveled paths.

If you’re seeking an easier alternative to those listed above, consider the South Rim Trail (and loop) or the Tusayan Greenway. Both are suitable for novice runners and can be run as mapped or altered for fewer miles. These routes are mostly paved and offer minimal elevation gain compared to trails that descend into the canyon. Free buses operated by the National Park Service offer numerous shuttle options for any of these routes.

Open May 15th through October 15th, anyone visiting the North Rim should consider the Bright Angel Point Loop or Uncle Jim Trail during their stay. Overnight visitors can access either from the campground, lodge, or the North Kaibab Trailhead. Both explore beautiful, vibrant forest, wildfire remnants, and offer commanding views of both Roaring Springs and Bright Angel Canyons.

Sources:
https://fastestknowntime.com/route/grand-canyon-crossings-az

Grand Canyon: Rim to Rim to Rim via South Kaibab
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Grand Canyon: Rim to Rim to Rim via South Kaibab

Grand Canyon National Park
65.6 km
4,049 m
4,049 m
An internationally-recognized trail run through the United State's largest canyon.
Severe
Private
Grand Canyon: Rim to Rim to Rim via Bright Angel
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Grand Canyon: Rim to Rim to Rim via Bright Angel

Grand Canyon National Park
73.2 km
4,173 m
4,173 m
An internationally-recognized trail run through the United State's largest canyon.
Severe
Private
South Rim Trail
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

South Rim Trail

Grand Canyon National Park
20.7 km
315 m
477 m
An easy trail traversing the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.
Moderate
Private
Bright Angel Point Loop
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Bright Angel Point Loop

Grand Canyon National Park
7.2 km
174 m
168 m
A versatile running loop on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon
Moderate
Private
Uncle Jim Trail
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Uncle Jim Trail

Grand Canyon National Park
7.5 km
232 m
232 m
A beautiful trail run on the North Rim with commanding views from Uncle Jim Point.
Moderate
Private
South Kaibab-Tonto-Bright Angel
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

South Kaibab-Tonto-Bright Angel

Grand Canyon National Park
21.2 km
1,106 m
1,219 m
A epic trail run that can be shuttled or completed as a loop utilizing the South Rim Trail.
Difficult
Private
Greenway/South Rim Loop
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Greenway/South Rim Loop

Grand Canyon National Park
9.0 km
118 m
118 m
An easy running tour of the South Rim with campground access, restrooms, and drinking water available.
Easy
Private
Tusayan Greenway
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Tusayan Greenway

Grand Canyon National Park
10.3 km
187 m
45 m
A developed Greenway Trail connecting the town of Tusayan to the South Rim Visitor Center.
Easy
Private
Hermit Trail
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Hermit Trail

Grand Canyon National Park
27.1 km
1,681 m
1,681 m
A lesser-visited path to the Colorado River, often chosen for shorter out-and-back runs.
Difficult
Private
Grandview Trail Loop
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Grandview Trail Loop

Grand Canyon National Park
17.3 km
1,303 m
1,305 m
An ~11 mile trail running loop around Horseshoe Mesa with massive elevation gain.
Difficult
Private
Dripping Springs
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Dripping Springs

Grand Canyon National Park
10.3 km
737 m
737 m
An out-and-back trail run to a year-round spring.
Difficult
Private