BlogMay 2024

A Guide to Grand Canyon Family Hikes

A Guide to Grand Canyon Family Hikes

By Jeff Bogle

May 23, 2024

You can stroll the rim or take picturesque out-and-back Grand Canyon family hikes, but here are the best Grand Canyon hiking trails for kids.

For many Americans, seeing the Grand Canyon ranks high on the travel bucket list. The canyon certainly is breathtaking and is more impressive than any photo could ever portray, but standing on the rim is just the start of the adventure awaiting families during Great Outdoors Month or almost any time of year! The best Grand Canyon family hikes feature a gentle Grand Canyon descent, a pit stop at the mile 1.5 rest house, and practice responsible tourism that leaves only footprints. These educational hikes for kids pair perfectly with Grand Canyon Ranger programs and will cover all hiking safety tips necessary to ensure that all family hikes around the Grand Canyon south rim are memorable, fun, and safe for everyone. Let’s take a look at a Grand Canyon family trail guide to discover the Grand Canyon family hikes that might be right for you and your kids!

The Best Grand Canyon Family Hikes

The Grand Canyon is not only vast, but it’s also varied in the types, lengths, and difficulty levels of family hikes it offers. You can stroll around the canyon’s rim or embark upon a full-day hiking adventure in search of Grand Canyon wildlife, and everything in between. Here are the best ways to hike the Grand Canyon with kids.

The South Rim Trail

Million-dollar views and photo opportunities are everywhere along the South Rim Trail! This paved walkway is more for strolling and sightseeing than hiking in the traditional sense. At 13 miles long, the trail path along the canyon’s scenic south rim is good enough for us to be called a hike because when you have kids, and maybe even a stroller, sometimes a flat trail that doesn't make you wait, or work hard, for a picturesque payoff is exactly what you want from a family hike! Stretching from Hermit’s Rest to the South Kaibab Trailhead, it’s easy to start anywhere and go as long as you wish, even hopping on and off the Grand Canyon National Park’s free shuttle bus when you (or your kids) can’t take another step! Not only is this easy, but it’s also one of the great educational hikes for kids in America as the Trail of Time features exhibits, some of which are interactive, that explain the geology and landscape of this amazing part of the country.

Bright Angel Trail

When it comes to Grand Canyon hiking, no trail in the entire park is as popular as the Bright Angel Trail. The trailhead couldn’t be more convenient since it starts and ends in Grand Canyon Village, and the trail is easy with marked spots to stop and relax with kids. Because it is an out-and-back trail, you and your family can hike as far as you want and then turn back around and hike back up to the rim. You’ll walk under tunnels and come to the mile 1.5 rest house which has a bathroom and can be the point to turn around for a pleasant 3-mile family hike in the Grand Canyon. There are more rest houses found every 1.5 miles, but going further would only be for those looking for moderate hikes Grand Canyon. For the best hikes for families near the Grand Canyon south rim, make it an easy 3 miles down and up the Bright Angel Trail.

South Kaibab Trail

If sloped switchbacks and the greatest views of the canyon are what you want from your Grand Canyon family hikes, take the free shuttle bus to the South Kaibab trailhead, fill up your water bottle at the top, have everyone use the bathroom, and then enjoy an epic Grand Canyon descent that will have you in awe! Remember that this too is an out-and-back hike, so you can go as far down as you wish, keeping in mind that every step down equals a step back up toward the rim. The most popular spot for families with kids to turn around is the appropriately named Ooh-Ah Point, less than a mile down (meaning a less-than-2-mile roundtrip).

Grand Canyon Ranger Programs

To add to your Grand Canyon hiking experience, consider letting your kids participate in Grand Canyon ranger programs. After you’ve enjoyed a hike using our Grand Canyon family trail guide, gather around for a talk given by a ranger on the park’s wildlife, geology, history, condors, or the astronomy in the sky above. These talks occur daily at 10:30 am and 2:30 pm and are free to attend!

Hiking Safety Tips

Hiking the Grand Canyon is a safe activity, but you must be smart and safe, especially when hiking with kids. The National Park Service outlines several key hiking safety tips, including:

1) Knowing Your Limit

Knowing how far your legs and any younger/smaller legs can go is critical, especially on an out-and-back trail like those found at the Grand Canyon. You should not push limits and try to go further down into the canyon than you or your kids can handle.

2) Be Weather Ready

Check the forecast, dress in layers, apply sunscreen, use bug spray, and be ready for the weather on your Grand Canyon family hikes.

3) Pack Snacks and Water

Ensure that everyone has enough water and snacks for the length of hike you plan to take.

4) Hike Smart and Take Your Time

Let the slowest hiker lead the way so that no one is left behind and be smart near ridges, slopes, and any surface that looks dangerous.


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Jeff Bogle
Jeff Bogle
Jeff is a dad of teen daughters, avid traveler, photographer, and freelance writer. He’s penned stories on family travel, outdoor recreation, the environment, parenting, and more for Fodor’s, Reader’s Digest, Parents Magazine, Good Housekeeping, PBS, and Esquire, among other publications. Find him on his blog, and on Instagram @OWTK. Jeff is also the publisher of the quarterly literary zine, Stanchion