Understanding Trailhead Talk

Before you hit the trail, become familiar with these important hiking terms
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The Bright Angel Trail in the Grand Canyon. Photo by Grant Ordelheide

Switchbacks on the Bright Angel Trail in the Grand Canyon

Backcountry vs. frontcountry campsite

A backcountry campsite requires you to get there on foot, carrying what you need with you. A frontcountry campsite enables you to camp near your car.

Cairn

This is a group of stones piled on top of each other, marking a route or landmark.

Headlamp

An incredibly handy device, it's a light attached to an elastic band that you wear on your head to see in the dark.

Privy

It’s a discrete word for outhouse or bathroom.

Switchback

Switchbacks make a Z-shaped trail up a hill. Hiking on them is easier than going directly straight up or down a steep hill.

Bright Angel Trailhead

Bright Angel Trailhead

Trailhead

Often marked by a sign, the trailhead is the start of a trail.

Water bottle filling station

Bring your own water bottle and get free spring water at the park’s filling stations.

Water pump

These are often found at campgrounds, supplying potable water. 

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