Rim-to-Rim: North Kaibab to South Kaibab Trailhead

HARD 16 reviews
#10 of 72 trails in

Rim-to-Rim: North Kaibab to South Kaibab Trailhead is a 20.5 mile heavily trafficked point-to-point trail located near North Rim, AZ that features a waterfall and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible from May until November. Horses are also able to use this trail.

20.5 miles 6343 feet Point to Point

backpacking

camping

hiking

trail running

horseback riding

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

scramble

no dogs

Arizona Office of Tourism, 2702 N. 3rd St., Suite 4015 , Phoenix, AZ, 85004, Phone: 888-520-3434, Fax: 602-240-5432, mfioritt@pni.com

hiking
1 month ago

What a SPECTACULAR hike! A group of us just completed this in a day. We had time constraints on a last minute trip plan and chose to accept the challenge rather than not do it at all. What an incredible experience! Starting at the South Kaibab TH at 6am, I reached the North Kaibab TH at 5:30pm while others in my party were 25-30 minutes earlier. Total distance recorded by my GPS was 23 miles in 10.5 hours including in a short detour to Ribbon Falls for lunch. If this is an item on your bucket list, just make sure you're ready for the significant elevation gain that comes at the end of a long day. Definitely an epic adventure I'd do again in a heartbeat!

1 month ago

hiking
1 month ago

Wow-what a trail. Only had time for 4.5 miles ( Trail head to almost Roaring Springs. (decent 3,500 feet)
Great views. Water and restrooms at Supai Tunnel.Weather was great, but got hotter as you decent.

backpacking
2 months ago

we hiked from the south rim to the north in 4 days and took some side hikes along the way. one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. so beautiful and humbling is the canyon. so much history to see! no place on earth like it.

2 months ago

backpacking
2 months ago

Did south rim to north and then back again 4 years ago... The most awesome hike possible. Took 4 days and enjoyed the views and only took a few hundred pics.

6 months ago

The most incredible thing about this experience (it's much more than just a hike) is that you travel through different biomes and experience incredible geology all along the way. You have to train for this hike with at least 25 lb over a few months, because, warning: Devil's Corkscrew really was created by Satan. Do due diligence in prepping and packing (REI was super helpful), and with a little luck you'll get back country permits for October, which was perfect. We did it over 3 days, 2 nights. Pace yourself, and be prepared for an epic, nonstop Stairmaster experience on the switchbacks out. It's all worth it.

hiking
1 year ago

Experiencing the Grand Canyon in the entirety of the rim to rim hike was rewarding as it was strenuous. My partner and I completed this trip in a 4 day, rim to rim and back, trip in the middle of December and I would recommend it to anyone contemplating between hiking it the summer versus winter season to experience it in the winter. The way the landscape revealed itself to us from underneath layers of fresh snow was breathtaking!

camping
1 year ago

Absolutely amazing experience.

1 year ago

1 year ago

Nonstop R2R2R in 17 hrs! Epic over night trek.....

hiking
1 year ago

A friend of mine and I did this hike from south to north at the end of June this year leaving from the South Rim on the Bright Angel trail. The heat was pretty ridiculous. It was over 90 degrees before the sun came up and over 100 degrees for five hours in the middle of the day, hitting a high of 113.7. We elected to take a side hike over to Ribbon Falls early in the afternoon to cool off. I would definitely recommend that to anyone who does this hike in the summer. Use every opportunity possible to wet your clothing in the creeks and at water sources along the trail. Because of the time we spent in the pools below the falls, we started and finished the hike with our headlamps. In addition to water reservoirs, take a bottle and some Gatorade mix to make sure you replace your electrolytes- you're going to sweat a lot!

I do think this would have been more enjoyable to do over two days instead of one but we weren't able to get a camping permit for the days we wanted to go. You are able to camp in a special section of the North Rim Campground without a permit or any advanced notice. This is a special section of the campground reserved for hikers and backpackers and is separate from the rest of the campground. You can ignore anyone who tells you the campground is full and has no more spots. They will be talking about the main section with reservable spots for cars and RVs. Keep in mind, however, the campground entrance is another mile and a half from the North Kaibab trailhead and your spot will be an additional 1/4 mile into the campground. That may not sound like much, but by the time you are done with a full day of hiking and have spent the last bit of daylight hiking up the steepest part of the trail on your final scraps of energy, that sign that says "campground 1.5 miles" and points you directly up a seemingly endless hill is enough to break any spirit you've got left.

We planned to get up in the morning and hike back, but changed our minds by the time we reached Roaring Springs on our way up the North Kaibab trail. We took a shuttle back to the South Rim the next morning. If you also prefer that idea, make sure you have called to make a reservation before 6:00 AM. Shuttles leave at 7:00 AM and 2:00 PM from the general store, but only if you've made a reservation.

Beware of mule poo.

hiking
1 year ago

I did the North to South Rim hike the first week of November. Took Transcanyon Shuttle from South to North so we had a noon start. First day was rough and we only made it 6 miles in. Got a 6am start the next day and finished up the hike. Took lots of breaks and photo ops. I have minimal hiking experience. The descent down North Rim is a killer. All I can say is a pair of excellent hiking boots goes a long way. It took us an hour just to go a mile down the start of North Rim due to my crappy boots and carrying too much gear. Even though I had a terrible start, I would do it again! The silence is uncanny and tranquil, no kind of silence I have ever heard. There were some day hikers on the North but very minimal. We ran into maybe a dozen hikers/runners going through the box. The days were cool and comfortable and the nights were not as freezing as I thought it would be. If this is the first time, take the time to see the sights. It is amazing and humbling. Rushing through for the sake of time or bragging rights would be a disservice to the experience of hiking a truly grand canyon. The best part is the bottom of the canyon, like something out of the Lord of the Rings. Very diverse terrain, plenty of running streams waterfalls here and there. I liked North Rim a whole lot better than South.

trail running
1 year ago

If you want to cross the Grand Canyon this is the best way to go. North to South. A hike of a lifetime. We went with an organized group from the South Rim to the North Rim and then back to the South Rim the next day. Beautiful and so rewarding to have completed this run/hike! Make sure you take all the essentials and a 70 oz water capacity. Plan your trip early or late in the season for coolest temperatures. The North rim is easier to go down then up! I hiked from the North Rim to Ribbon Falls and back up the N
Rim (16 miles) This is another beautiful hike, start early (5 am) to enjoy the cooler temps. Enjoy the solitude and grandness of this amazing national treasure! It took me 5 hours to run from the North to South Rim.

hiking
4 years ago

We hiked this in August 2012. Not the best time but work schedules being what they are. We completed the hike in just under 10 hrs. During that I went through nearly 9 liters of water. By the time we reached Indian Gardens and began our assent the thermometer in the shade said 112.

This hike is very difficult and can be dangerous with the heat. Only experience hikers should consider this and then I recommend a cooler season. In the end it was beautiful scenery and provided an incredible and satisfying physical and mental challenge.

hiking
4 years ago

Cant imagine a more beautiful yet demanding trail. Starting back in July we arranged a backcountry pass/itinerary that suited our physical abilities and equipment. We then got South Rim to North Rim shuttle transport arranged.

Our journey began on the North Rim at the North Kaibab Trail. We spent the night at the North Rim campsite and anticipated a strenuous downhill hike to our first below-the-rim campsite at Cottonwood Campground. Taking time to marvel at the views, we took in scenery all along the trail. Coconino Overlook (N36 12.924 W112 03.140), a bit over a half mile in, offers a good view into Bright Angel Canyon. Supai Tunnel is just under a mile ahead (N36 12.671 W112 02.932) and offers a good rest stop and water. Over the course of the hike down we crossed as many as six bridges. These are very sturdy, well built structures. The first, and typical, was at 3 miles in (N36 12.443 W112 02.754 6116'). We passed by Roaring Springs filling our water bottles and taking a few photos. Our days adventure terminated at Cottonwood Campground (N36 10.224 W112 02.379 4100') where we spent the night. Statistically we hiked 7.65 miles from the North Kaibab Trailhead to Cottonwood CG, elevation changed from 8249 at the TH to 4100 at Cottonwood for a 4149 change, a bit over 10.25% grade. The steepest section is the first half. We left the TH at 8:30AM and arrived at Cottonwood at 1:06PM.

Day 2 made this journey! Ribbon Falls is a must see spot. The TH down to the falls is 1.35 miles out of Cottonwood, the falls approximately another 1/3 mile in (N36 09.552 W112 03.283 4012'). Dont miss this! It took just a bit over an hour to get there.

From the Falls, we continued into The Box. On our way we traveled through several different environments. Never more than a few yards from Bright Angel Creek, we saw typical Arizona cactus and hard rock mingled with what I believe to be wild grapes and bamboo grasses. We could hear birds but seldom saw them. Incredibly diverse! The Box offers an opportunity to just look up at the skyscraper towers surrounding you. This area is supposed to be hellish hot in the summer but this October morning was just flat incredible. Our trek took us into Phantom Ranch (N36 06.365 W112 05.635 2635') where we took a long break and lunch.

Next goal was the Colorado River. We saw a few rafters, took in the beauty of the river, soaked tired feet in the icy water but moved on rather quickly. This is a popular spot and tends to be crowded. We crossed the Silver Suspension Bridge and continued on to Indian Gardens CG. Food for thought...as you walk along the river bank and hike up just past the south side of Silver Bridge take a moment to ponder. You are walking among rock that is 1.7 Billion Years Old! At this point you leave the North Kaibab Trail behind and take up the Bright Angel Trail. Just about half way between PR and Indian Gardens you encounter a pleasant little 1/2 mile of hell known as the Devils Corkscrew. Its a half mile of steps mixed with switchbacks. Enjoy! At least know that the campground is only another 1.5 miles once you shake off Lucifers hand. Our hike into Indian Gardens (N36 04.645 W112 07.690 3823') was the longest of our journey and extremely taxing. Just outside of camp we saw two deer that were hardly worried about our presence. We made camp just before 5:00 PM. Statistics: 1.35 miles from Cottonwood CG to Ribbon Falls TH, .6 miles round trip from TH to Falls and back, 5.62 miles from Falls TH to Phantom Ranch, 4.18 miles from PR to Indian Gardens CG. We lost 1465 between Cottonwood and Phantom Ranch, gained 1188 between PR and Indian Gardens. We clocked 11.15 miles that day (not counting the .6 Ribbon Falls divergence) and 18.8 miles from the North Kaibab TH. We were on the trail just under 10 hours.

Our final hike out was the 4.5 miles from IG to the Bright Angel Trail TH at Grand Canyon Village. We elected to start this final run very early to beat any mid-day heat and to avoid as many tourists as possible. This is an extremely popular section for casual hikers with little or no trail sense or courtesy. We put shoes on the trail at 4:45AM and completed our journey at 9:00AM. Walking the trail with only flashlights is a unique experience.

Well...we did it...Rim-to-Rim! Logged 23.3 miles and went from 8281 at the North Rim Campground to 2635 at Phantom Ranch back to 6800 at Bright Angel TH. Total time hiking the trails was nearly 19 hours. I'm writing this review on Sun 10/6. We went into the Canyon on Thurs 10/3 and came out Sat 10/5. I admit to being sore all over and proud of our accomplishment. To Colleen...Love you (‘Nuff said!)

I use a Garmin Map60csx. It's usually pretty accurate but was unreliable this trip due to satellite availability. Take the numbers as a good average.