Bright Angel Trail is probably the most popular traveled trail from the south rim of the Grand Canyon down to the Colorado River. Day hikers, backpackers and mule trains keep it a busy trail.
Popular hikes for day hikers are down to Indian Gardens or to several other places on the way down. For those day hikers not ready to turn around and head back up yet but not interested in descending further there is the option of hiking from Indian Gardens out to Plateau Point. http://www.americansouthwest.net/arizona/grand_canyon/bright_angel.html. This adds another mile and a half one way but it is practically level and takes you to a great overlook of the inner gorge and the Colorado River below. http://www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/upload/BrightAngelTrail.pdf
It all depends on how much time you have allotted or how hard you want to work hiking back up to the top. The changing rock formations and colors make this an interesting hike no matter how far down you go. I recommend reading the trail description from the following website: http://www.bobspixels.com/kaibab.org/bc/gc_tr_ba.htm
Indian Gardens is that patch of cottonwood trees that you see below the south rim from the overlooks near Grand Canyon Village. Past the gardens the trail disappears into the inner gorge. From the garden the trail out to Plateau Point is plainly visible from the south rim.
I hiked to the bottom a few years ago in the spring so this time I just went down a bit further than the second tunnel just to experience the trail during Winter. Nearly all of this first section stays in the shade most of the day and it was hard packed snow with some ice. The mules conveniently deposit traction material along the way so if you take your time the slick trail is not much of a problem.
Will was here 12/29/2011