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Day hikes at the Grand Canyon don't require backcountry hiking permits. If you're not planning on spending the night below the rim, you don't need to worry about getting a permit for your hiking date.
You also don't need a backcountry permit if you plan on spending the night at Phantom Ranch in the dormitories or cabins, or are taking a mule trip into the canyon.
Day hikes are a great way to experience an inner gorge experience without the rigors of a trip all the way to the Colorado River. Some of the most popular hikes from the South Rim are along the "corridor" trails – Bright Angel and North and South Kaibab. A day hike on the Bright Angel Trail to Indian Gardens or Plateau Point is a good way to view the environment below the rim, and the hikes, while rigorous, are easier than going all the way to the river and back.
Day hikes along the rim trail are popular too, and the entire family can join in less rigorous hikes like these. The most popular trail is the Rim Walk that stretches from the Yavapai Museum to the Village and on to the West Rim.