Hiking A World Wonder: 3 Great Grand Canyon Routes


Every year, thousands of hikers come to Grand Canyon National Park to hike the scenic and historic trails of the area. Many of these trails are relatively short and can be done in a day or maybe two at the most. Others take a bit longer but are still rather standard. However, there are a few remote trails that aren’t traveled that often due to the fact that the park no longer maintains them.

Tanner-Escalante Route

The Tanner-Escanlante route starts out at the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona and stretches over 36 miles of various terrain. The park no longer maintains the trail, so only the most hardcore hikers take this route. Your hike will follow along the route were Pioneer Seth Tanner went along mining for copper along the Colorado River. Part of this hike includes an unavoidable 30-foot cliff near Hance Rapids that will have to be climbed. This demanding trail will probably take about 6 days to complete at a normal pace.

Royal Arch Route

The Royal Arch Route is a 45 mile hike starting at the South Bass Trail and then proceeds to Royal Arch and then to Elves Chasm and then back to South Bass via Tonto. The trail is considered to be an expert trails and recommended only for those with sufficient outdoor and wilderness skills. Make sure you take at least 50 ft of rope, 20 feet of webbing, and a reppel ring as there is a good amount of climbing, especially at Elves Chasm.

Esplanade Route

This old route from the South Bass trail to Apache Point is shorter than most at only 18 miles, but it is one that may require a little more flexibility and ingenuity for most hikers. The original trial for this route apparently has come in such disrepair and degraded over the years that many maps have become near useless. Your best bet when hiking this trail would be to review your map carefully, scan your topology and then pick your own best line of hiking.

Things to Remember

Route hiking at the Grand Canyon is only for the most experienced hikers. If you are a recreational hiker or have limited outdoor skills, do not hike these routes. Below are a few other things to remember when hiking these routes:

  • Never hike these routes by yourself. Beyond the fact that there is safety in numbers, additional members will be helpful when traversing large climbs, etc.

  • Bring plenty of water. If you think you have enough water, bring more. Some of these routes have limited water access and you need to keep hydrated for these hikes.

  • Don’t rush the hike. It doesn’t matter if you can hike 8 miles in a day normally. These are advanced trails and require more time and planning to traverse. Also make sure you have plenty of maps for the area so you have an idea of what to expect.

If you want more information on any of the routes listed above, there are plenty of resources online starting with the Grand Canyon National Park service. There are also numerous forums online with people’s experiences that have hiked these routes and you can get a better idea on how to prepare for these hikes ahead of time.

Contributed by Lauren Quincy. Photo credit: senoryermo. com

Francis Tapon
Francis Tapon is half Chilean and half French and he was born and raised in San Francisco, California. He's been to over 80 countries, but he keeps coming back to this magical city because he loves earthquakes.

He spoke Spanish at home, French at school, and English everywhere else. He can get by in Portuguese and Italian, barely survive in Russian and Slovenian, and speak a few other languages.

Francis has an MBA from Harvard Business School and co-founded a successful Silicon Valley company that did robotic vision. He left his technology life to walk across America four times. He has thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail, and in 2007, became the first to do a round-trip on the Continental Divide Trail. In 2009, he was one of the finalists for the California Outdoors Hall of Fame, which "features nominees who are world-renowned for their skills and who have helped inspire thousands of others to take part in the great outdoors."

Francis has written a couple of travel books including The Hidden Europe: What Eastern Europeans Can Teach Us and Hike Your Own Hike: 7 Life Lessons from Backpacking Across America. He also produced a 77-minute video about his CDT Yo-Yo.
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