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The Grand Canyon: Kaibab to Bright Angel Trail

HARD 3 reviews
#38 of 69 trails in

The Grand Canyon: Kaibab to Bright Angel Trail is a 17.5 mile lightly trafficked point-to-point 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 March until November.

17.5 miles 5282 feet Point to Point

backpacking

birding

camping

hiking

nature trips

trail running

walking

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

no dogs

Experience the Grand Canyon like few others with this unforgettable 2-3 day trip down into the canyon. If you are looking for the perfect hike in the Grand Canyon, this is it. The 2 (or 3) day hike will take you down into the canyon to where few visitors have the privilege of going. Although the Bright Angel trail is not as steep and has more shade cover and water, the views from the South Kaibab trail are unbeatable. It is best to start from the South Kaibab, hike down to the Bright Angel campground, and back up the Bright Angel trail. This way you get a change of scenery and can hike up where there is more available water. If you have a few more days to spare, you can spend another night at the Bright Angel campground (there are some good day hikes from there), or spend a night at Indian Garden on the way back up to the Rim. However long you stay, it will be an experience to remember for a long time, as there is no better way to see the Grand Canyon that by staring up at it from the river below.

camping
2 months ago

First a little demographical info about me; 6'1, 252 lbs, 44 years of age. used to live in the hills of Pennsylvania and just started hiking again; this was the first real trail I hiked (the trail to see the Delicate Arch up close in Arches N.P. I don't count) in years.
The one thing I have to say for all those regardless of age and size is to respect the trail you are on. I know experienced hikers who do this already know that. Although I am sure many people have done this trail, one really needs to rely on their own wits and know their limits. There is no shame in taking rests or trying to find that little bit of shade under a rock on this trail. But the fact that you are literally miles from any help will show what kind of constitution you have. It was cool and awe-inspiring at the same time that there is literally no one around you. The landscape can be unforgiving. Rocks in the lower part of the canyon does radiate out heat, Sun temps at BAC at 5:00 PM was around 129 F. In my experience during the 5th and 6th of July on this trip, I found that on both trails that the 1.5 mile point from the rim on both trails had the most constancy of seeing a person. After that, it was less than 50. For instance from Cedar Ridge to Skeleton Point, we crossed paths with two NPS Rangers, and 4 other hikers (two of which were unprepared and struggling but with the help of Rangers, made it out ok from our inquiry about them.) Three mule trains also passed us between these two points, with about 12 total tourist riders (won't count those though, lol). From Skeleton Pt. to the Tip Off where there is a single shack we encountered four people, one of whom was traversing the Tonto Trail to Bright Angel Trail. After that, no one until we arrived at the BAC. The desolation one could imagine was there. On the way out the next morning (it truly is a good idea to leave at 4:30 AM) there may have been 16 people going up we encountered for the portion of BAC to Indian Garden. Only a couple we passed with camping gear passed us going down. More activity was around near the Indian Garden and my group actually did well I felt, it took us about 5 hours from these two campgrounds. But then the sun finally filled the canyon. I can say the last three miles was the most exertion I ever put in myself. It is a portion that is to be respected if you have 17-20 lbs of gear on. Shade and water is your best friend and take advantage of it. Tourists appear to not understand this as they had tank tops on and a 8 oz. bottle of store water that was about empty at the 3 mile rest house, I had a 100 oz. camelback and a 32 oz. canteen. Some spoke to us stating they were going to walk down some more (this at 11 AM), but they soon passed up going up saying it was too much and were heading back. Everyone that passed me going down were in good spirits but coming back up most had a look of wear and minor concern of the heat. It was not what they expected. I did in most respects respected the trail but I slightly underestimated the last three miles and slightly overestimated my ability to "easily" do it with no aches and pains. I did complete it and suffered no heat exhaustion or other health problems. I had a small blister on the side of my foot, and sore muscles on my thighs and calves that lasted about a day and a half but did not inhibit my ability to walk, I just wanted cold water and AC (ha ha). My thing that helped me in this last three miles was I walked two to three switchbacks and rested, there was no shame in this. I was literally a switchback and 100 yards from the Three Mile rest house but I found shade and stopped, I still had water, so I did not hurry. I got ribbed a little by may good friend who is older than me and has hiking experience but I did not let that hurt my pride. My well-being was more important.
This trip I can see would make most people new to hiking want to end hiking as a hobby/interest. I did not think about hiking in Phoenix's North or South Mtn. Preserves in the latter days (had no desire to) but it has instilled in me the desire to learn more about effective hiking and to see more where others don't. This was a truly 5 star hike, regardless of the heat, a little blister, and day and a half muscle soreness. I would recommend this trail to those that want to do it. You won't regret it. The most experienced can do it in June, July, August, December, January and February,

7 years ago

An awesome hike if you're adequately prepared. Here's how to do it in one day safely.

1. Start early. You should set out down the Kaibab no later than 3:30am.
2. Bring a lot of food & water. You burn a LOT of calories & sweat a lot of water. Come prepared.
3. Train properly. Do not do this in one day without being in good shape. Period.
4. Refill water at every place possible. At the bottom and the 3 stations on the way up.
5. The hardest part (in my opinion) is the first 2-3 miles of the ascent along the Colorado river in the sand. Take it slow, drink plenty, rest in shade as you find it.

That's about it. Seeing the sun rise as you descend into the canyon is something I'll never forget and everyone should experience. Just be careful to not waste too much time hiking down to the river or else it'll be pretty scorching on the way up. We took our time and it was over 100 when we started our ascent. Be careful, but have fun. And be sure to take a picture with the sign encouraging you not to hike rim to river to rim in one day!

7 years ago

This trail may be my favorite trail I have ever hiked. You must leave very early to avoid the afternoon heat but it absolutely worth it. When we hiked down into the canyon the walls were bright orange and red from the morning sunlight. There is no better way to see the canyon than from within it.

We were a bit underprepared at the bottom (the ranger told us not to bring a sleeping bag or tent because it stays 80 degrees. It rained that night and we were mad), but it was nice to be able to sit in the small stream near Bright Angel campground just relaxing and cooling off.

The entire trip wasn't more than about 7 hours of total hiking time (we were moving pretty quickly), but I wouldn't recommend it in a day, because we got very hot while hiking around 8am, I couldn't imagine hiking around noon. Be careful and pack PLENTY of water.