Hermit Trail

Grand Canyon National Park

Colorado River Grand Canyon, Arizona

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Hermit Trail
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  • The Hermit Trail enters in a broad side canyon.- Hermit Trail
  • Planning and safety are crucial in the Grand Canyon.- Hermit Trail
  • Stop to admire limestone fossil beds just below the canyon's rim.- Hermit Trail
  • As you start down the sandstone switchbacks, look for fossilized footprints.- Hermit Trail
  • Tracks of prehistoric reptiles that slid down the sand dunes are now frozen in time.- Hermit Trail
  • Santa Maria Spring, 2.2 miles from the rim, is a rest stop with year-round water.- Hermit Trail
  • Mountain mahogany boasts early spring blooms.- Hermit Trail
  • Look Out Rock is a spectacular lunch location midway down the trail.- Hermit Trail
  • Looking up at Cathedral Stairs.- Hermit Trail
  • Huge canyon walls below Cathedral Stairs.- Hermit Trail
  • Vast views from the Tonto Platform, 7 miles into the Hermit Trail.- Hermit Trail
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Grand Canyon vistas. Rim to river trail. No mules.
Cons: 
Rugged terrain. Limited water.
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Region:
Colorado River Grand Canyon, AZ
Congestion: 
Low
Pets allowed: 
No
Net Elevation Gain: 
-4,340.00 ft (-1,322.83 m)
Parking Pass: 
National Park Pass
Preferable Season(s):
Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
Suitable for: 
Hiking
Total Distance: 
20.00 mi (32.19 km)
Trail type: 
Loop
Trailhead Elevation: 
6,640.00 ft (2,023.87 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Pro Contributor

The Hermit Trail is one of the Grand Canyon classics, though it is much less traveled than the popular Bright Angel or South Kaibab Trails. This corridor to the Colorado River offers vantages of the western part of the park that you won't get from the other South Rim trails, and a major plus is that Hermit is free from mules and waste. Expect a more rugged journey here, however. Because the trail is not maintained, erosion has left parts of the trail rocky or partially washed out.

But it was not always this way. The Hermit Trail was one of the original routes to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, and a lodge thrived at Hermit Creek a decade before Phantom Ranch was built. From 1911 until 1930 when the camp ceased operations, Hermit Trail was the primary means of access to the lodge, though an aerial tramway was engineered to deliver guests in luxury. The tramway and buildings have long since been dismantled, and old cobbles on Hermit Trail were intentionally removed to return the area to a wilder state. Keep an eye out for relics of this Grand Canyon history. You can still find well-worn stones on the pathway and evidence of century-old development near Hermit Creek.

This trail is also testament to the geologic history of the canyon and landscapes that existed eons before the first human travelers. Just below the rim, notice the limestone fossil beds of seashells and sponges that inhabited a shallow sea. Further down the switchbacks, look carefully for the frozen footprints in Coconino sandstone. These are tracks of primitive reptiles that scurried across prehistoric sand dunes. You can tell by the tracks which ones were climbing up the sandy slope and which ones were sliding down, which ones dragged their tails and which ones did not. As you descend further into the canyon you'll travel through more geologic legacies: a river delta, a rising and receding ocean, a coastal plain, and volcanic eruptions. Try to imagine the environmental phases that have continually formed this timeless place.

Logistics

Like any trail in the Grand Canyon, Hermit Creek is a serious desert hiking endeavor. Remember that temperatures climb as you descend, and water is precious. Between Santa Maria Spring and the creeks near the river, there are no water sources. Be prepared with all the water, calories, and endurance necessary for your trip.

Hermit Trail is accessed from Hermit Road, which is closed to most traffic during the high season. To get to the trail as a day hiker you will have to ride the free shuttle from Grand Canyon Village. If you have a backcountry camping permit, you will also receive a gate code and a parking pass so you can drive the road in your own vehicle and leave it parked at the trailhead for the duration of your trip.

Mileages

Trailhead to Hermit Creek Camp: 8.2 miles

  • Trailhead to Santa Maria Spring: 2.2 miles
  • Santa Maria Spring to Breezy Point: 3.3 miles
  • Breezy Point to Tonto Trail Junction: 1.5 miles
  • Tonto Trail Junction to Hermit Creek Camp: 1.2 miles

Trailhead to Colorado River at Hermit Rapid: 9.7 miles

  • Hermit Creek to Colorado River at Hermit Rapid: 1.5 miles

Trailhead to Monument Creek Camp: 9.3 miles

  • Tonto Trail Junction to Monument Creek Camp: 2.3 miles

Trailhead to Colorado River at Granite Rapid: 10.3 miles

  • Monument Creek to Colorado River at Granite Rapid: 1.6 miles

 

 

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Updates, Tips + Comments

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Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(7 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(20 within a 30 mile radius)

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