Explore the most popular waterfall trails in Grand Canyon National Park with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Difficult trail with built in steps. Pretty steep inclines. Legs/knees started tiring at about 5 miles. Would train on stairs for this trail in the future. A great way to see other views of the Canyon for sure. Glad I did it.

Exposed and susceptible to wind gusts so be prepared with sun production.

Hardest run I’ve ever done. Ended up clocking 20 miles total in 5:35 from South Kaibib to the bottom in just under 2 hours . Phantom Ranch was a nice leg but the climb back up was rough. I’m a FL runner and not used to the elevation but hammered thru . 3 hours + back up and found out it’s well over the 15.5 claimed. Would be an awesome 2 day hike but unless you are well prepared (nutrition, water , training) don’t try to do in a single day (as many of the signs pointed out)

Started at 5:45am (just before sunrise, so it was nice and cool) and arrived at the river at 7:45am, mostly running down since the grade on the trail was perfect for running. From there I took a half hour break and ate a bunch of food and started my way back up Bright Angel Trail. I arrived at the top at 12:30pm while taking 10-15 minute breaks at each shaded rest site since there was effectively no shade on the way up at that part of the day. Be sure to bring ample supplies and if you havent hiked at this level of difficulty I strongly advise you DONT hike this trail. If you are still interested go to the Backcountry office in the park and ask them for advice about this trail since they will take into account your level of experience and plans for the hike.

I started at 10:40AM at South Kaibab TH. This trail does not offer any shade. I made it to the junction of Black Bridge and River Trail by 1:00PM and I took River Trail as I did not need to resupply my water. Hiking River Trail, I took few pictures and stopped at the river for 5-10 minutes. I started back up at 1:40 PM (from the rest station) and made it up to the top at 5:05PM. it took me 6 hours to complete this trail. Notes: I did not stop for lunch and did not eat anything while hiking except I drank 16 once of gatorade at the bottom of the canyon and at the top, I had a handful of nuts and dry fruit.
The South Kaibab trail does not offer ANY shade in the first part of the day.
Bright Angel is excellent choice for shade in the afternoon. I barely saw the sun on my way up from Canyon to the parking. 90% shade. Perfect between 1:00PM and 5:00PM. I had 64 ounces of water and 32 ounces of gatorade and I did not resupply my water; however, India Garden offered some easy and fast option.
Another note: I soaked my hiking shirt and hat in the water> that kept me cool to the top (3,5hours).
Happy hiking! be safe!

I did just the Bright Angel the previous day (till Plateau Point), and the entire hike took me only 6 hours. Based on elevation gain and distance, I calculated South Kaibab - River - Bright Angel trail to take no more than 8 hours. However, lots of Internet reports suggested a minimum of 10-14 hours. In any case, I decided to go ahead and try the hike. A bit of bad luck and really cold morning meant I didn't start until 10:40 AM; the sunset was due at 6:40 PM. So, I had to go for the kill from the word go. I run a lot and recently prepared and ran a Full Marathon, so I was in the peak of my fitness. I like running downhill, and I found it easy to run down in some part of the South Kaibab trail. There were some parts with loose sand where I had to walk but apart from that, I was doing good speed - 1.5 miles in about 25 minutes. So, I reached Cedar Ridge at 11:05, Skeleton Point at 11:30ish, and Tip Off at about 12. There was hardly anyone after Tip Off point but the scenery started getting very pretty, and I got down to the Black Bridge by about 1 PM. I met a few rafters at the beach who were travelling across the Colorado River. Since I was hiking alone, it was good to meet some humans as that place was very desolate. My next goal was to get to Indian Garden by 4PM at the latest, so I kept going at a steady pace. My lunch was just protein bars and nuts, so I could eat them as I hike. After a while on the River Trail, there were those long switchbacks but keeping my motivation high, I could climb them without any issue. After a bit of following the stream, there was a point where there was a huge rock and no clear indication of the trail. Thankfully, once I jumped over the rock, I found the trail back, and it was easy hiking from there to India Garden. I reached there at 3PM, and I knew it would take me 2.5 hours from there to the top since I did this same part the previous day. This is also the hardest part of the hike, and it comes at a time when you are really tired. So, doing the same trail the previous day helped me with the mental confidence. I met several groups on the way up who had started very very early (6AM or so), but they were extremely tired and not in a mental state to hike up. I cheered them up and gave pointers on the remaining route and reached the top at 5:40 PM. In all, it took me only 7 hours. If you really want to do it quick, try to do the Bright Angel hike till India Garden the previous day. It serves as a good practice and also prepares me mentally for the toughest part of the Rim to River hike.

This review is for the tourist:
I did basically this same loop yesterday. I was running. I have a lot of experience. There are others like me who have trained and are experienced that can SAFELY do this or even go further. Most cannot. If you haven’t done something like this before, DON’T DO IT. Most people do this hike over TWO days, for good reason. If you try this in one it will suck and you’ll you put yourself in danger. I saw at least 5 people that I had to make sure were ok. They were NOT prepared. They did NOT have the right nutrition. They did NOT have enough water. They did NOT know what they were in for. I hope you do now! :)

This was the hardest hike I have ever done in my life. There are signs about 1 mile down that say to not to hike down to the Colorado river and back in one day unless you are an experienced hiker. Unfortunately for me, I am not an experienced hiker. However, I am slightly above average. And I did it. By the time I reached Phantom Ranch from the South Kaibab descent, I was starting to feel burn. After a break, I refilled water and started up Bright Angel. Five miles up the trail, I did not want to go any longer. Everything hurt. I was tired. But I had no option but to finish. The last 2.5 miles were the hardest because I was physically and mentally exhausted, and there were loads of switchbacks. I ended up taking frequent breaks and drinking lots of water. Slow and steady wins the race. If you are looking to hike this trail remember that 1. You need to stay hydrated
2. You will have to push yourself
Overall it was absolutely incredible. Amazing scenery and a fantastic experience. Very well worth the pain you will feel the next day.

Have to be prepared and drink extra water laced with electrolytes (Heed or Nuun are two good mixes for water) otherwise dehydration will hit you in the final 3-4 miles. Also, this mileage estimate is incorrect. All my trackers and other maps suggest this is probably 18 miles +

Bucket list hike. South Kaibab to Phantom Ranch is fast and beautiful. Coming back on Bright Angel was great along the creek. Last 3 miles of hike had the most switchbacks I have ever encountered. Not enough sleep the night before and no real hiking since last October made for a painful ascent. But it was best hike of my life so far. The hike is more like 19 miles if you add up the segments of the trails on the official Grand Canyon map.

We hiked up bright angel after coming down via south kaibab

All I can say is this trail broke me I literally thought I couldn’t make it every time I looked up
The elevation gain along with my heavy backpack was enough to make me ache so much. The last 2 hours going up I was about ready to call it a day and sleep on trail lol it was that bad. It also gets pretty cold near the top so bring a jacket easy access

For us it wasn’t icy but still some scary parts of the trail with steep drops. It took us about 7 hours to reach the top from the river and luckily there was lots of shade. The trail before the steep climb was enjoyable and pretty all the way up to about Indian gardens. Don’t think I’ll ever do this one again

We took a free shuttle back to the backcountry permit office

Do yourself the biggest favor ever and bring trekking poles. My knees were in bad shape when we got to the bottom (took about 3 hours) there was a lot of steep drop offs but really pretty views

Lots of families on this trail very popular and super easy to follow
Loved the restroom stops (plug your nose if you go in lol)

Overall good trail..went down this way but going up was another story

Great hike. I left at 6:15am and finished at 3:30 with minimal stops. The last 3 miles are killer. Make sure that you have water receptacles to fill up at every opportunity. My legs and feet are very sore but this is a bucket list type of hike. I also wouldn’t mess around with this trail in high temps. It was 30 degrees when I set off and was in the 70’s down by the river. Enjoy

This must be one of the top ten hikes in the United States. Our group consisted of two college-age kids, three adults aged 47-55, and one octogenarian. We caught the 7am Hiker's Express Shuttle and were on the SK by 7:45 am. While the eldest in our group (yeah, he's 80 and in great shape) took the Tonto crosscut trail to Indian Gardens (total distance SK-Tonto-BA: 13 miles), the rest continued down the SK to the river and lingered in Phantom Ranch for 20 minutes and then another 15 minutes on the beach where the Bright Angel reaches the Colorado. Another break at Indian Garden before the final ascent gave us a total distance of 18 miles (the spur to Phantom Ranch instead of just staying on the River Trail adds a mile or more) which was done in 11 hours. We finished a half hour after sunset with enough light to not need our headlamps and flashlights. There was water at Phantom Ranch and Indian Garden, but to be safe, we each carried a regular-sized water bottle as well as three gallon jugs to replenish as needed. We could have carried a gallon less for our group of six, but preferred to err on the side of caution and as it turns out, gave water to another hiker who had run out. While most prefer to overnight at Phantom Ranch, this is a doable day hike, but only for older adults if they are fit (my wife and I are mid-50s and in marathon training). Whatever your age, do not estimate the difficulty of the final climb up the Bright Angel, however. Your quads and calfs will feel this one and it waits for you until the end of your hike. Bring food, water, headlamps if you have ANY concern about being out after dark, a fire starter and appropriate outer clothing for the season. We started at 38 degrees, experienced mid-70s at the river, and finished in the mid-40s (March 21). Weather couldn't have been better for us and the icy patches at the top of the BA had pretty much melted away during the day. If you are an avid hiker, put this one on your list!

I did this amazing trek on March 17, 2018.
Started at 6:30am and finished almost at 3pm stopping for a short lunch down by Colorado river and some rest at Indian Garden.
I did an acclimating hike down Bright Angel trail the day before just to see what those switchbacks were about. Good physical shape and some mental preparation and great spirit was all needed to complete it without huffing and puffing and enjoy every single moment. Amazing views on every spot of the trail. I got lucky with weather as it was in 60s down in canyon and in high 40s up closer to the rim and clear skies. The next day however it snowed and snowed a lot so that last 2-3 miles were covered in snow. So be prepared for a turn in the weather and have layered clothing, snow chains and trekking poles and plenty of water and snacks. If you did hikes in the mountains before, you can do this one too!
My Garmin Fenix watch clocked over 20 miles and over 4700 elevation gain on the ascent by Bright Angel.
Definitely start as S Kaibab as the trail there is more rugged and you want to go down there not up.
There are restrooms and emergency phones at least in 5 spots on the way.

Adding to my full review below:
We left the S Kaibab trailhead at 630am and took 3.5 hours to reach the silver bridge that crosses Colorado. (We picked up the River Trail heading left when Kaibab had gone right towards the black bridge)

I’ve excluded the time for photo stops, and two restroom breaks.

We stayed at the river/Phantom Ranch for 2 hours and headed back up Bright Angel at 1220. We reached Indian Garden/Tonto East by 3pm.

We finished at 1848. So the trip back up 13 mi took us 6.5 hours including all the breaks. And it was very difficult for the last 3 hours due to altitude.

On March 7, I hiked this with my 16 and 18 yr old. I trained for over six weeks. And I’m grateful I did. It paid. Fitness wasn’t the issue it was altitude. We live at sea level. We stayed in the village for 3 days. We hiked on the 3rd to allow time to adjust.

We took over 3L ea of water. There are atleast 7 restrooms on this trail. That is a huge encouragement for those who try to not drink but must.

I am so glad we took this hike. And grateful that we made it out just before total darkness set in. We started at sunrise and made it to Phantom Ranch in 4 hrs taking photo and potty breaks.

We had headlamps but the last 4-6 switchbacks were snowy and icy so darkness made it harder and less safe.

The views of the Colorado going down S Kaibab are the most breath taking. Getting to the bottom was wonderful. Likewise the view along the river trail which connects Kaibab and Bright Angel was stunning. Even the 10 mi return up Bright Angel has unexpected brook views, sounds and waterfalls. It’s gorgeous.

Everyone seems to agree that the final 3-4 miles up Bright Angel are exhausting. Practically impossible to complete after hiking all day.
However, many young people passed us. Even jogging. I know there are some who work at the Canyon and do this weekly, even daily. Perhaps those who weren’t resting after nearly each switchback live in the canyon or another 7k ft town. We didn’t ask.

So I cannot recommend this trail, in its entirety, to anyone who hasn’t proven their ability overcome altitude. If you breathe very easily under exertion entering 5, 6, and 7 k feet then this 18 mi hike is for you!!! Otherwise, you are taking a great risk.

We will have this memory forever and are grateful for every minute!

Likewise, I have to recommend a backpack suitable for hiking since water and food are not optional. My kids’ shoulders were really hurting from their packs. And this was their only complaint.

I agree with others who said this was the best and most difficult hike they’ve taken. I can’t wait to go back and try the others!

Beautiful hike with sweeping views and plenty of elevation. A little ice at the top when we started, but didn’t need crampons. They say to allow yourself twice as long to come back up, but it didn’t take us nearly as long. Start early to avoid the crowds!

Best hike I've ever done. Started around 6-7 am and finished around 4:30pm. Truly amazing hike with endless breathtaking views.

Legendary trail! Would absolutely recommend doing this during the off-season and with an early start. Notes below...

- Parked at Bright Angel Lodge, nice bathrooms around and plenty of water. Arriving early will also help with parking since there isn’t a lot at the lodge itself.
- Took hiker’s express bus at 8, hours differ throughout the season.
- South Kaibab was continuous downhill and many switchbacks until the river. Had to stop myself from taking so many pictures!
- Not a lot of mules this time of year, but still enough where I needed to watch my step.
- Nice picnic lunch at almost the halfway point by the river and at Bright Angel camp. Indian Garden was after that, good spot for a breather.
- In the shadow of the canyon, it was too cold for short sleeves, in the sun was no problem for shorts and a T.
- Trail was well maintained throughout!

I hiked the Grand Canyon for the first time over the weekend with my lady and it was a wonderful experience! Went down South Kaibab to Phantom in 4:30 (ALL the pictures!), spent the night at Phantom in a great communal experience with other travelers, then back up the next day via Bright Angel in 5:15. We were pushing it pretty good coming out but that last 2 miles was tough, lol. I can see in the summer needing to take a lot more time to get out because of the heat, but it was cold so stopping was less appealing to us in the winter. We really just stopped briefly every 30min or so for water and to catch our breath when needed.

I’ve done the R2R five times and can’t imagine getting tired of it. If you’re thinking of it as a bucket list item, it’s worthy. Don’t skip Ribbon Falls.

Did it first with my wife when I was 66. Second time with my two daughters at 68. Spent three nights in the canyon and would do it again. I don’t agree that you have to be in tip top shape but it would help. Take your time, observe and enjoy. It’s not a race and as long as you hike out you WIN!!! That being said you must be careful with the heat and hydration.

The last 3 miles are tough!

Went from bright angle, down to the river and phantom ranch, and then went back to south kaibab. We were about to do the trail to plateau point, and started at 9:50 a.m. Changed our mind to do this trail when we arrived at Indian garden. It was about 1 p.m when we went across the bridge. Finally got back to south kaibab at 5 p.m. We were totally exhausted after finished the trail though, the scenery is great.

epic and awe inspiring — there is no substitute for experiencing the canyon and its river close up like this. that being said, be realistic about your abilities. have a set turn around point: if you don’t make it to Tip-off Point in around two hours, consider taking the Tonto trail across to Bright Angel. This alternate route saves about 1500 feet of elevation gain, and is still a rewarding hike. If you haven’t made it to Tip-Off in three and a half to four hours or so, the canyon has defeated you and you should consider turning around. My boyfriend and I did the full route — we started at 6:15AM and ended at 4PM. Like a bunch of other reviewers, we are fit(ish) but not ultramarathoners or anything, but we did prepare by hiking several 10-mile 3,000 footers until we got comfortable with the distance. We took the orange rim route shuttle bus from the visitor center to get to the trailhead, but the park also has a “hikers express” that runs from bright angel lodge. I highly recommend talking to a ranger at the backcountry information office before doing this hike! they have awesome maps of the trails and great advice. They are there to help you, even though it is official policy for them to never advise anyone to do this hike. Be sure to bring enough salty snacks and gatorade (we had about 1500 calories each and 1L of gatorade each plus water), and take breaks often. We were so intimidated by this route and by the reviews, but it was an amazing experience that I’m so glad we did!!

5/5 wouldn't do in reverse again. We started with bright angel and went to phantom ranch for a 30 minute break and then started on South Kaibab. We did it all in one day and while extremely taxing, what a view and what a rewarding experience. Doing it all in one day is really challenging but if you want a tough one then go for it!

What a magnificent view on a trail that masks its difficultly. I went with a good ol’ friend of mine on this journey and I would do it all over again. On the way down you are moving quick. It took us about 3 and a half hours to get down and visit the Colorado River. The way back is where it gets extremely strenuous and painful. We are both hikers with experience and in good shape. We were devastated hiking back up. You need to leave early around 8am to give ample time to get back. We wound up having to break out a headlamp as it just got dark as we approached the South Rim. The hike is doable in a day but for leisure I would recommend staying overnight.

My wife and I hiked SK to PR to BA all in one day. The longest hike we had done prior to this one was 10 miles and moderate. We did not physically prepare for this hike. Our active life consist of me going to the gym 2-3 times a week and 3-5 days for my wife, we walk our dogs daily. I am 36 years old and my wife is 32. We parked at the visitor center and took the Orange line to SK. We started our descent at 8 am, 30 minutes after the sunrise since it took us a few minutes to figure out where to park and where to start and the bus lines. Hope this helps if you're trying to figure out where to park and where to start. It took us 3 hours and 40 minutes to hike down to Phantom Ranch. I do have to admit we took our time soaking it all in and we took plenty of snap chats and pics. The way down was not that hard for us. We took a 30 min lunch break at PR. We had a stale bagel there. Don't expect much down there other than dry cold salty snacks. We took 2.5 hours to hike up to Indian Garden. Now the final 4.5 was excruciating and this is where the mental toughness kicked in and got us through last leg. We packed head lamps just in case we could not make it out before sunset and we ended up needing them since the sun set at 5:30 and we finished at 6:30 pm. The weather was perfect 30/40. This was by far the most epic, amazing, difficult, brave, and rewarding hike we have ever done. If you do not live an active lifestyle, I would not recommend this hike.

I've done the South Kaibab twice. Once, just down and back with my brother & then once with my husband through Phantom ranch & back up bright angel. Both times we didn't camp and just hiked from morning til evening, but the blisters and tiredness were awesome because you just hiked the Grand Canyon!
I cannot stress enough that you do not hike the canyon unless you are physically able and have ample supplies to keep you hydrated and fueled!
The first time hiking we helpped a man and his son you had no water or gear & were in trouble. The second time there was a father who had brought all his children, the youngest of which was a 10 year old girl whose longest hike before this was a 3 mile flat road hike!! We passed them a few times and vice versa, and by the time we were headed up the bright angel this sweet little girl was exhausted and in tears!! This is a hard hike! Please be prepared!!

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