North Kaibab Trail to Colorado River

HARD 13 reviews

North Kaibab Trail to Colorado River is a 19.1 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near North Rim, AZ that features a river and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible from May until October.

19.1 miles 2568 feet Out & Back

backpacking

birding

camping

hiking

nature trips

trail running

beach

forest

river

views

wild flowers

rocky

no dogs

5 months ago

6 months ago

Helluva challenge. Did in early June under excessive heat warning as per of a r2r hike that started on south kaibab. Hot in the bottom be sure to move through the box during a cool part of the day. Water dips at ribbon falls and pump house stop are a must. If coming up to the north just take the last 1.5 from real slow and rock this- one of the most glorious hikes in America.

1 year ago

Hiked North Kaibab trail from Phantom Ranch to Cottonwood camp on day 2 of my trip, it was Hot! Temps in the 90s again. Then from Cottonwood camp to the north rim and back to Cottonwood on day 3. Got some relief from the heat on day 3, but it got gusty in the canyon on the way down, if it's windy stay on the inside of the trail the gusts could blow you off the trail and there are plenty of places where it's a 300 plus foot fall. Then hiked back to Phantom Ranch on day 4 and had some nice cold beers before heading out on South Kaibab day 5.

hiking
2 years ago

I hiked down to Cottonwood Campground from the North Kaibab Trailhead for a one night campout. I HIGHLY recommend using trekking poles. The way down is not very hard,but the impact on the knees is grueling especially if you're carrying a 20+ pound rucksack. Coming back up the 7 miles the next day took significantly longer (6.5 hours)and we consumed much more food and water so be sure to carry plenty or refill at the designated "drinking water" areas. During this time of year they shut off the water at faucets and fountains,so bring water filtration system,for,replenishing,your bottles,at these,natural water sources. The trails are well maintained,and this hike is a wonderful adventure. One of the best and most challenging I've done yet!

hiking
2 years ago

We did this hike as a 2 day hike to make it easy on ourselves. This is NOT an easy trail. I had read up on the trail and was a bit concerned about how steep and narrow it was supposed to be. You really never know until you arrive. I thought it was steep but probably no worse than the South Kaibab. It was nice and cool at the top. We stopped for the night at Cottonwood and left early the next morning for Phantom Ranch. After Cottonwood the trail is not as flat as people said, but it is more rolling hills than climbs.The box was beautiful and people were enjoying themselves, taking pictures. The difference from the North side of the canyon to the South side is wild. Something you have to experience to appreciate.

hiking
3 years ago

Great Hike. One of the more challenging hikes I've done with a 4-5 day pack. This trail has great views and it has a 1.5 mile off-route to Ribbon Falls. Ribbon Falls is deafinately worth the trip even if your tired. I would recommend dropping your pack off in a bush though, to take a load off your legs, but bring your camera and a snack. This trail has a 2 Stretches that are about 5 miles long without water. One is down near the colorado river and the other is up near the rim. If I had one piece of advice for this trail, it is, Don't Underestimate Your Water Consumption!!! The lower 7 or so miles is pretty easy with some ups and downs. The top 5 miles is very rigorous, with never ending switchbacks, especially if it is your 2nd or 3rd day. I also recommend bringing extra snacks and water for other people you meet. Some will look like they're about to die from lack of preparation. If you take your time on this trail you will likely start before light and end after dark, but you should still take breaks. I'll the views a 5 out of 5 and I give the trail a 5 out of 5 because I like a challenge.

hiking
4 years ago

We hiked this trail to roaring springs. Amazing views! My husband and i did the 11 mile round trip in about 9 hours. Hope to one day do this with the kids.

hiking
4 years ago

We did this hike from the North Rim to South Rim using the North Kaibab and Bright Angel trails. It was a spectacular day and the scenery descending from the North Rim was amazing. Approaching the Colorado river you head through a box canyon with vertical walls all around you. Outstanding. Many people make this a multi day backpack and hiking trip and there are many campsites along the trail. We encountered several trail runners going rim to rim (24 miles) or rim to rim to rim (36 miles) which was really humbling.

hiking
4 years ago

Although we only hiked down to Roaring Springs from the North Rim, I consider this one of my most scenic hikes. My son Ron and I made this 11 mile RT hike on a beautiful day in June. The trail started out nice and easy, the way down was extremely scenic. Crowds of young people were coming up canyon, throughout our hike. I imagine these were the hikers who did the cross canyon route from the South Rim. (we could not get a permit, so we had to settle for this hike). The North Kaibab Trail down to Roaring Springs snaked its way down the narrow switchbacks, through a tunnel, over a bridge across the dry streambed, and finally to a the end of our hike, 3200' below. Roaring springs had a picnic table and water source, after we had lunch and hydrated as much as we could, we started the long trek up. Since I have COPD, the hike up was grueling, but nothing was going to restrain me. My son kept an eye on me all the way, making me rest, taking my Albuterol or hydrating whenever he thought I should. We saw a party coming down on mules, we stood quietly against the wall while they passed. (I could have used one of them, myself) Almost to the top, past the Supai Tunnel, we assisted a young girl who had collapsed and needed assistance (my son had EMT training). I got to the top exhausted but fullfilled. This was the hardest hike I had ever done, damn the COPD.

hiking
4 years ago

Did this one is September. What a great time. Went into the Canyon for six days and sixty miles. I carried a 24 pound pack including 8 pounds of water. My partner's pack was down to 23 pounds. We went all the way to Cheyava Falls. Minimalist Backpacking is fantastic!

hiking
5 years ago

I hiked this trail as the start of a rim-to-rim hike in 1998, at age 45. Most of what I experienced was as described in the 2010 review by Deb L - just in reverse. It was May when I hiked, and the early morning trailhead was chilly, but be careful with those layers! It got to 106 degrees at the bottom. I planned long and obsessively for this hike - the first major hike I undertook outside the Army. It was very tiring, but nothing a dip in Bright Angel Creek couldn't cure. As I pointed out in my review of the Bright Angel Trail, I have heard that less than one percent of GC visitors set foot below the rim. I also recall that 90 percent of the tourists only go to the more easily accessed South Rim. So if you want to joint a fairly elite hiking group, and get spectacular scenery at nearly every step, consider this trail as a bucket list must-do. Ground squirrels outnumber hikers, and those on this trail are far more laid back than their cousins across the river. Phantom Ranch is a scenic and very worthwhile stop. Even if you aren't into souvenir t-shirts, get theirs! You can't get them anyplace else, and the design changes each year.

By the way, for those looking for an additional challenge, trail are attracted to this locale, especially for rim-to-rim runs. There are even runners who do the rim-to-rim-to-rim at one shot. Personally, I like to see where I'm going, and they generally start or end in the dark with headlamps. I also have enough trouble walking without stumbling - but, to each, his/her own.

Last year, I hiked the bottom five miles with my wife, in the rain. This was a totally different experience, and seeing it through my wife's eyes was fun. This was part of her celebration of five years with artificial knees.

hiking
6 years ago

hiking
6 years ago

This trail sees much less use than its counterpart to the south (South Kaibab). At 14 miles long with an elevation gain of 5,800 feet, the North Kaibab Tail is the only maintained trail from the Colorado River to the North Rim.
The first half of the North Kaibab--the seven miles between Phantom Ranch and Cottonwood Camp--are relatively easy as you hike along Bright Angel Creek and through The Box, where the walls of Vishnu Schist in Bright Angel Canyon close in on you. Several footbridges take you from one side of the creek to the other.
After Cottonwood Camp heading north, the easier walking ends. More than half of the North Kaibab's elevation gain is accomplished in the top one-third of the trail. Two miles before the end of the climb, you'll pass through Supai Tunnel and can stop for a rest (and a potty break if you need one) before the final push. Potable water is also available here from May through mid-October.
Leaving the tunnel, you'll likely start to feel the effects of the higher elevation if you're aren't used to it ... and, even if you are, it can make you breathe a bit harder.
The North Kaibab trailhead is located about 2 miles from Grand Canyon Lodge. There is trailhead parking available. A campground (right on the rim) and shower house is open seasonally, so be sure to pack some quarters for the showers if you're gonna want one.