South to North Kaibab Trail

HARD 4 reviews
#35 of 73 trails in

South to North Kaibab Trail is a 41.2 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Grand Canyon, AZ that features a river and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible from May until November.

41.3 miles 12004 feet Out & Back





trail running




wild flowers



no dogs

Fantastic hike for the seasoned outdoorsman/woman. Bucket list material. Point to point, or round trip for the more adventurous. Point to point requires a shuttle trip back to the opposing rim, provided by a number of shuttle services. Can be successfully hiked north-to-south or south-to-north. North to south is preferred, as the North Rim is approximately 8200 feet above sea level, making for a more difficult ascent when coming from the South Rim (7200 feet above sea level). North rim is also closed during colder months, as the lodge and facilities are shut down. Rim-to-rim hiking season is from mid-May to mid-October.

4 months ago

Here's a tip: If you plan on hiking South Rim to North Rim and back in two days during peak season (summer) without a backcountry permit to camp inside the Canyon, don't bother carrying a backpack to camp at the North Rim campsite. Carry a day pack instead with just enough water to last you between sources and snacks to fuel you for a conservative estimate of 12 hours. Plan to stay overnight at the North Rim Lodge. Keep in mind that you will need to get an early start (no later than 3 am) in order to minimize exposure to the extreme summer heat. When we attempted this hike during the first week of June, afternoon temperatures exceeded 110 degrees at Phantom Ranch. It took us about 3 hours to reach the Colorado River from the South Kaibab Trailhead. Sunrise was around 5:30 am (first light around 4:30 am) and it just starts heating up from there on out. By the time you get past the Box, you're contending with an unforgiving uphill trek in full sun all the way to Roaring Springs and the exposure really starts to get to you around Ribbon Falls/Cottonwood Camp. Beyond that, the trail gets really steep until the finish. Although our group was physically fit, our backpacks really weighed us down and we didn't complete the one-way hike at the pace we projected, thus reaching North Rim too late to get a good night's rest before having to do it all again. In the end, we opted to take a $90 shuttle ride back to South Rim. This is the only transportation option between the two Rims (other than hitchhiking) and it takes 4-5 hours. It is definitely an experience worth writing home about and if you're up for the challenge, I can't recommend it enough. But please do your homework; there are a lot of good resources online which will help you access your fitness and manage your expectations. Good luck!

4 months ago

Not for the faint of heart, but not just for the fittest of the fit either. Ali's quote about "the will must be stronger than the will" applies to the completion of this hike in a single day. It is grueling at times.

Went the day before Memorial Day and met or was passed by over 225 hikers. Considering this is a 21 mile hike that's a little more than 10 per mile, making this a good hike for solitude. The push up from Cottonwood Campground to the end is where the real exertion occurs.

I am 52 in above average (not excellent) shape and I did this hike with my 2 teenage sons in 19 hours. If you are in excellent shape 12 hours or less is very achievable. Just make sure to have we'll broken in hiking shoes and plenty of electrolytes.

The views are exceptional along the way, particularly on South Kaibab. Phantom Ranch is very quaint and a stop for lemonade in the canteen is worth it. Definte top 5 hike, and I have hiked a few miles in my time.

4 months ago

Spectacular views of the inner gorge. Two suspension bridges over the Colorado River within sight of each other. Phantom Ranch was everything and more.

6 months ago