In my first post in this Grand Canyon Rim to Rim Hike series I went over the basics of a Rim to Rim trip. If you’re interested in the basic information head over there.
The aim of this post is to take that basic information and get a little more granular so you can plan your own trip. Or if you’re not interested in figuring that part out, I’m going to list out our exact trip itinerary with mileage information and stopping points. I’m also going to outline the training schedule I’m using to get ready for our Rim to Rim.
Rim to Rim Hike: Day-By-Day Itinerary
Day 1: Roaring Springs and Cottonwood Campground (descending ~6,000 feet)
Total mileage: 7.7 miles
- 2 miles to Supai Tunnel (bathroom + water)
- 3 miles to Roaring Springs Canyon (bathroom + water)
- .3 mile (each way) side trip to Roaring Springs
- .7 mile to Manzanita Resthouse (bathroom + water + ranger)
- 1.4 miles to Cottonwood Campground (bathroom + water)
Day 2: Ribbon Falls and Phantom Ranch
Total mileage: 8 miles
- 1.3 miles to Ribbon Falls Bridge
- .3 mile (each way) side trip to Ribbon Falls
- 4.7 miles to beginning of “The Box” (aka a SUPER hot spot you don’t want to be in the middle of the day)
- .7 mile in “The Box”
- .7 mile to Phantom Ranch
Day 3: Silver Bridge and Indian Garden
Total mileage: 5 miles
- .2 mile to Bright Angel (bathroom + water)
- .3 mile to Silver Bridge
- 1.2 miles to River Resthouse (bathroom only)
- 3.3 miles to Indian Garden (bathroom + water + ranger)
Day 4: The Big Climb + Resthouses (ascending ~4,500 feet)
Total mileage: 4.8
- 1.7 miles to 3 Mile Resthouse (bathroom + water)
- 1.5 miles to 1.5 Mile Resthouse (bathroom + water)
- 1.6 miles to top
- Day 1 – Hike ~7.7 miles North Rim to Cottonwood Campground
- Day 2 – Hike ~8 miles to Cottonwood Campground to Phantom Ranch
- Day 3 – Hike ~9.8 miles to Phantom Ranch to South Rim
- Day 1 – Hike ~15.7 miles North Rim to Phantom Ranch
- Day 2 – Hike ~9.8 miles Phantom Ranch to South Rim
Grand Canyon Rim to Rim Hike Training Schedule
I consider training for any hike a personal decision. Only you know your fitness level and the amount of time you’re willing to put into preparing for your big trip. If you head over to Pinterest you’ll find plenty of resources if you search “hiking training”. One of the best pins I found was of course from REI. It’s a simple infographic that perfectly describes how to train for a multi-day hike. Below this image you’ll find the exact plan I’m using to get ready for my rim to rim hike.
Key Components to Creating a Training Plan
In order to start creating your training plan you need to know a couple numbers. These will allow you to create a plan that will get you ready for your specific hike.
- Longest Mileage Day: Which day are you hiking the furthest and how far are you going?
- Largest Elevation Gain: How many feet up are you hiking?
- Pack Weight: Try to figure out roughly how much your pack is going to weigh. Remember you are going to be carrying this weight, so try to keep it low. I’m aiming for between 25-28lbs.
With those numbers mapped out you’re ready to create your training plan. As you can see in the table below I’m slowly adding mileage and elevation each week. Notice that each week has a mileage and an elevation goal. That’s a goal for the week, not per day.
In order to create your own training plan all you really need to know is your longest hiking day and your biggest elevation gain. From there you can use the template below to figure out how to plan your increases in mileage and elevation week over week.
Rim to Rim Hike: 12 Week Hiking Training Schedule
Twelve weeks of training might seem like a lot, I’m sure you could get away with ten weeks or eight if you were really in a pinch. Since I have twelve weeks to train I’m going to use every one.
For those of you who read my Orangetheory for hiking training post you might recognize the color choices here. I straight up took them from the treadmill card I look at when I’m training there. To be clear I’m using Orangetheory as a component of my Rim to Rim hike training program. It’s a great way to build up stamina and a little muscle at the same time. Head over to this post if you want more information.
Okay, back to the chart and the colors. Think of the blue weeks as warm-up weeks. Green weeks are for building up mileage and elevation. Orange weeks are push weeks and red weeks are pretty much all out. Two weeks before your trip make sure you back off on the training in order to give your body a rest before the big trip.
To give you an even clearer idea how an individual week will look, I’ve outlined how the mileage and elevation gain will look spread out over training week 7.
Example Workout Week:
Mileage Goal: 10 miles
Elevation Goal: 3500 feet
Pack Weight: 20-25lbs.
- Workout 1: Walk 2 miles at 3-6% incline (treadmill or outdoor hike)
- Workout 2: Orangetheory day (HIIT training)
- Workout 3: Walk 6 miles outside on trail with elevation gain between 2500-3000 feet
As you can see this isn’t an exact science. Treadmills and Orangetheory aren’t the same as trails, but what you’re doing is working in some cardio a couple times a week to chip away at your mileage goal. As for figuring out your elevation gain, that’s tough. My work around for this is to include one longer hike each week (usually on the weekend) that has a significant climb. You can do all your workouts with a weighted pack or save that for your longer weekend hikes. Remember the more you train with a weighted pack the better.
If you have any questions on how to create your own training plan or want me to look over a plan you created for yourself leave me a comment. I’d love to take a look!
Going through and figuring out our trip day by day was a great exercise in getting myself mentally prepared for this trip. I highly encourage you to do the same whether you’re hiking Rim to Rim or going on another fabulous adventure.
As for training, if I’m being completely honest I could probably do Rim to Rim tomorrow without any training, but it would be painful and most likely not fun at all. Even though I have a strong resistance to training, I know that if I do the work I’ll be more mentally and physically prepared to make my first multi-day backpacking trip a success.