Backpack Hermit Trail into the Grand Canyon

Backpack Hermit Trail into the Grand Canyon

Hermit Trail Trailhead

Distance

16 Miles

Elevation Gain

4000 Feet

Activities

Camping, Backpacking, Hiking

Skill

Advanced

Season

Year Round

Type

Out-and-Back

Added by

Emily White

Bathrooms
Easy Parking
River
Romantic
Scenic
Wildlife
Swimming Hole

This hike, although steep and sweat-inducing, provides gorgeous 360 degree canyon views through rugged terrain to a spacious campsite with clean bathrooms beside a trickling stream. Another short mile hike through a narrow canyon brings you to the impressive Hermit Rapids on the Colorado River.

Not many people envision their romantic Valentine's Day getaway as a grueling 8 mile hike into the Grand Canyon, but I couldn't think of anything better! If you're planning a trip for the busier summer months, be sure to call ahead or fill out a backcountry permit request to make sure you get a campsite. During the winter, it's safe to just stop by the backcountry permit office a day or two ahead of time to reserve a spot and pay the permit fees, $10 per permit plus $8 per person.

This backpacking endeavor is not for the inexperienced.  Hermit Trail drops almost 2000 vertical feet in the first 2.5 miles, and much of the trial is unmaintained, passing through rocky scree slopes and steep drop offs.

After the first few miles, the trail levels off and you pass the Santa Maria Spring 2.2 miles in where you can fill up on water and rest in the shelter's shade. Be sure to sign the trail book!

As you gradually descend, soak in the expansive canyon views and watch as the layers of rock change color and texture before your eyes. After about 5 1/2 miles you will reach Breezy Point, a great place to stop for a snack and snap a few selfies.

The incline steepens as you meander down the Cathedral Staircase, a series of abrupt, short switchbacks which open up to a valley as the switchbacks grow longer. Another mile or so of descent will lead you to a trail junction, follow the signs for the Hermit Campsite.

Set up camp at one of the many sites located on an embankment overlooking a stream flowing into the massive Colorado River. There is a compost toilet provided on site, and fresh water flowing from the stream that can be filtered for drinking water.

If you're feeling up to it, follow the stream about another mile through the canyon bottom to the Colorado River and watch the impressive Hermit Rapids churn from the sandy shores. There are also campsites located by the river.

Going back up the canyon can be fairly grueling and tiresome, so be sure to pack plenty of water and snacks, and allow a few more hours than it took to get down.  

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations.

Nearby Lodging

From $20/night

Big Sky Retreat Campsite

Williams, Arizona

From $237/night
From $52/night

Reviews

Leave a Review

Overall rating: 

Question/Not a Review

Hi Emily - I'm looking for a 2 or 3 day backpack trip for the first week in April. Is there enough to explore, if we set up a base camp and take a day to hike around the area from camp? Is April a good time of year for this hike? Looking for some good solitude. Thanks, Brooke

Grand Canyon 102

Nice job! I’d recommend this one for anybody who’s backpacked rim to rim and is looking to get slightly more remote. The loop (down Bright Angel, west on Tonto, up Hermit) was a beautiful 4 day agenda.

Distance

16 Miles

Elevation Gain

4000 Feet

Activities

Camping, Backpacking, Hiking

Skill

Advanced

Season

Year Round

Type

Out-and-Back

Added by

Emily White

Nearby Adventures

Adventure

Photograph a Sunset from the North Rim Lodge

Adventure

Backpack the Bright Angel Trail to Indian Garden and Bright Angel Campgrounds

Adventure

Backpack the Bright Angel Trailhead to Indian Garden Campground

Adventure

Explore the Grand Canyon in Winter

More Nearby Adventures

Tours

More Tours

Related Stories

destinations

WATCH: A Way of Life Under Attack - 'Welcome to Gwichyaa Zhee'

All over this country, indigenous people are literally just fighting for their identity.

gear

Patagonia's First Ever Product Collaboration: Danner & Patagonia Wading Boots

Debuted at Summer Outdoor Retailer 2018, Patagonia's newest fly fishing products are now available.

activities

The World's Gnarliest Bike Race: 1000+ Miles on the Silk Road

"How tough it will be cannot be understated, but as Mike Hall once said, 'Nothing that’s worth an...

photography

How Landscape Photographers Can Improve at Leave No Trace

We often talk about “leaving no trace” in the outdoors. You don't take anything from the wilderne...

More Stories