The Hikers Special trips are extended to allow for more time for exploring, hiking, camping and relaxing within the Canyon. For many guests, exploring Grand Canyon by foot is the highlight of their trip. You can expect 1 to 2 side hikes per day, some of these may be a stop along the river and others may be right from camp. Like many aspects of your river trip, the details are unknown until you’re there. This is because our expert guides are factoring in the weather, river miles and other groups on the river into their daily plan. What we can tell you is all of these side hikes are optional and vary quite a bit in difficulty and length. On our Hikers Special trips, you can expect some of the day hikes to be anywhere from a short walk through a slot canyon up to 6 miles round trip with a steep vertical incline.
All side hikes will have a lead guide, and a sweep guide following the group. The guides often carry extra water, a first aid kit, and snacks. Your guides will give you an overview of the length, difficulty, footwear and amount of water to bring on these day hikes. *NOTE* GCW guides give a description of each hike based on an average physical ability before you set out for your adventure, but they cannot determine exact difficulty for each person. Please make sure you assess your ability and communicate with the guides if you have any concerns or questions about a particular hike. Remember, you do have the option to remain at the rafts or beach rather than going on any day hike.
Generally speaking, because you’re in the bottom of the Grand Canyon, you can expect many day hikes to have less-than-perfect trail conditions, significant elevation gain/loss and potential cliff-like edges. Keep in mind that it is not uncommon to have loose rocks to navigate and cactus to avoid on the “trail”.
If your guide describes your upcoming side hike as “scrambly” you’ll most likely need your hands for climbing up or over large rocks. Climbing gear is not necessary but keeping your hands free to help you maneuver is beneficial. Hikes from the river can be tough, but worth it. Please don’t be shy to offer or ask for a helping hand.
Often times the lead guide will set a quick pace at the front of the group, however, feel free to take time to enjoy the experience.
Many of the side hikes are near or through water. Surfaces can be wet and slippery so it’s important to have shoes/sandals with good traction. For those hikes that are not around water, you will have access to your boots/athletic shoes in the community bag. An insider tip: when you place your boots in the community boot bag, stuff a pair of socks down inside your shoe so you’ll have them for the day hikes.
If you use hiking poles and it’s easy for you to travel with them, bring them! Just hand them off to the guides when you arrive at the boats and they will keep them in a safe and convenient spot for you. You may use your hiking poles for day hikes only once or twice due to the narrowness of the trails, and that’s ok!
The Hikers Special trips are only offered in April due the Grand Canyon’s extreme temperatures. The best place to check for an accurate weather report is at Phantom Ranch. In the case of a warm April trip the best way to stay cool during these day hikes is to get wet! Take a quick dip in the river or side creek before you start. We recommend bringing a sarong or light-weight scarf on your river trip. You can dip these or your hat in the water and wear it around you to keep cool on and off the boats.
A small camelback or drawstring backpack keeps your hands free while hiking. It may not be necessary on every day hike, but helpful for longer hikes to store your water, sunscreen, camera, etc.
Almost all of the hikes are out-and-back type of hike. So, if at any point you’re not feeling comfortable, let your guide know, and feel free to turn back. If you don’t feel up for that particular adventure at all, you also have the option to sit it out. We recommend bringing a book or journal to enjoy during this time.
Keep in mind: If you’re nervous about a hike, or if you have more questions, ask your guides!