River Trail Loop, Grand Canyon

Distance: ~1.5 to 2 miles
Elevation gain: ~400 feet
Location: Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
Date: December 9, 2013

Silver Bridge

The River Trail is a two mile long trail along the Colorado River in Grand Canyon National Park, and it connects the lower end of the Bright Angel Trail with the South Kaibab Trail above the Black Bridge and also to below Phantom Ranch via a spur across the Silver Bridge. The River Trail loop is a 1.5 to 2 mile loop hike (depending on exactly where you start from) that starts from the Phantom Ranch/Bright Angel Campground area.

View along the River Trail with downstream to the left and Phantom Ranch up the valley left of center

It doesn't matter which direction you hike this trail in, but I'd recommend counterclockwise so that you more gradually gain elevation along the River Trail on the opposite side of the river from Phantom Ranch. From Phantom Ranch, follow the North Kaibab Trail to the junction with the River and South Kaibab trails. Then go around a corral and other structures along the river before crossing the Silver Bridge over the Colorado River.

On the Silver Bridge

Once on the other side of the river turn left and follow the River Trail as it parallels the river as it goes upstream along the cliffs above the river. The trail gains elevation at a moderate rate, but the views along the entire length of this trail are fantastic, so I took many breaks, which made for an easy hike. The River Trail reaches its highest elevation at its western end where it intersects with the South Kaibab Trail.

Colorado River from the Silver Bridge

Looking upstream from the River Trail to the Black Bridge

To continue on the loop hike, follow the South Kaibab Trail down through to the river, through the tunnel, and across the Black Bridge. The trail then passes the Bright Angel Pueblo, which was home to people 900 to 1000 years ago. A side path goes down to the beach where boats travelling down the river stop. It is only about 0.1 miles from the Black Bridge back to the intersection of the trails and Bright Angel Campground.

The River Trail at left above the Colorado River and the Silver Bridge

View upstream from the Black Bridge

Colorado River with the the Black Bridge at right. The River Trail goes along the cliffs across the river.

© Copyright 2017 Matthew Pintar. All rights reserved.


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