Hike up Bright Angel Trail in the Grand Canyon

Bright Angel Trailhead
Ironically, it was snowing when we hiked down on Wednesday and we were greeted by snow flurries upon reaching the top on Friday.

Let’s start with my confession

I have a confession to make. The hike up Bright Angel Trail in the Grand Canyon was the hardest of this series to write.

Not because the hike wasn’t notable or fun, but because it was so memorable, I had a hard time finding the words to adequately describe it.

Let’s just say it was magical.

Bright Angel Creek

The forecast for the day had been for rain at lower elevations and snow up at the top of the canyon so I expected to be wet.

Everything we read about the Devil’s Corkscrew said it would be hot , so I expected to be uncomfortably hot and sweaty.

After having some knee issues on the way down, I expected the 7 hour uphill hike to cause havoc with my knees.

The Bright Angel Trail follows a fault-line 6,850 ft through trees and brush so I expected nice views but nothing as amazing as the views like our hike down Kaibab Trail.

With all these expectations, you might ask:

What made it magical?

In a word, everything!

I’m still not sure I can adequately describe the beauty I saw that day, so I’m going to let our pictures do most of the talking.

Sand in the Canyon
Sand! Who would think we’d encounter sand at the bottom of the Grand Canyon?!

The weather…

We couldn’t have asked for better weather for our hike up Bright Angel Trail. The temps were cool, yet not uncomfortably so. We started out in our down jackets and were able to scale down to light-weight jackets within an hour. Even the Devil’s Corkscrew was cool and comfortable. Oh, and no rain for the entire hike!

Carl proudly showing off his cap from Phantom Ranch
Carl proudly wore his cap that he got at Phantom Ranch (he got a cap and I got a shirt that you can ONLY buy at the bottom of the canyon).
Taking  a break
The temps were so nice, Carl even ended up rolling up his pants!

Water, water, and more water…

Not only did we get to hike beside flowing water and watch it fall from a waterfall right alongside the trail; we got to cross it at several locations.

Colorado River in Grand Canyon
water fall in Grand Canyon
A waterfall! In the Grand Canyon! BEAUTIFUL!!
Be crossing stream
We crossed the water at several locations along the trail.

The trail was alive with color…

The normally brown canyon was green with new growth. Trees, bushes, cactus, and flowers were in bloom everywhere adding splashes of color to the green landscape. It certainly didn’t look like the desert landscape described in the books we’d read.

Indian Garden
Indian Garden was alive with color with trees, bushes, and flowers in full bloom.
Sign in Canyon
A sign along the trail reminding hikers to please stay on the trail so as not to step on and damage the vegetation.

The spectacular view in front of us…

The view of the canyon wall (and knowing our destination was at the top of that wall), was amazing. The thought that we would reach that destination in one day was almost unbelievable.

Canyon Wall
Our destination….the top of that ridge!
hiking Bright Angel Trail
canyon wall
Path on Bright Angel Trail
You get a feeling of how far we still had to go once you find the hikers on the trail.
lunchtime view
How often can you have a view like that with lunch?

The breathtaking view behind us…

As if the view in front of us wasn’t stunning enough, the view from behind was exhilarating (that little thin white line in the picture below is the Bright Angel Trail).

View of Bright Angel Trail
We stopped from time to time to look behind us as we were treated to an awesome view of the Bright Angel Trail.
Another view of Bright Angel Trail
Another view of Bright Angel Trail
Bright Angel Trail in the Canyon

More amazing views…

As we neared the top of the canyon, we could see a storm moving in on the north side of the canyon. Although we were still in the sun with nice temps, we could see the rain falling on the other side of the canyon. We knew it was heading our way and were hoping to make it out of the canyon before it hit (which we luckily did).

Carl watching storm
As we neared the top, we could see the storm clouds of the rain storm moving across the top of the canyon.
Carl and Be - storm in canyon

Almost there…

As we neared the top of the canyon, temperatures dropped and we encountered snow flurries.

I found myself giggling inside at how we must have looked hiking those last 100 yards in t-shirts and long sleeves when everyone around us was bundled up against the snow and cold.

Final curve on Bright Angel Trail
After an amazing 7 hour hike, we reached the last turn before the top….
Tunnel on Bright Angel Trail
Getting closer to the top as we passed through the tunnel at the top of Bright Angel Trail.

An amazing hike comes to an end…

Our smiles at the Bright Angel Trailhead sign says it all – It was exhilarating and an experience that will stay with us forever.

Our day wasn’t done at this point, yet we had some unfinished business.

How do we to celebrate Rick’s 70th birthday, his 72nd hike in the Canyon, and a wonderful trip with two absolutely wonderful people?

Why, with beer and pizza….

…And a celebration kiss.

Celebrating with a kiss on Bright Angel Trailhead

Thank you, Rick and Jean!

I realize I didn’t say a lot about the trail itself so if you want to know more about hiking the trail, the following pages tell more than I ever could. Grand Canyon Trust, National Park Service, or Hiking Project.

To read about our entire adventure, check out the beginning of our journey, our hike down the Kaibab Trail, and a day at the bottom of the canyon.