South Kaibab to North Kaibab to Bright Angel Trail

HARD 27 reviews
#25 of 95 trails in

South Kaibab to North Kaibab to Bright Angel Trail is a 40.9 mile heavily trafficked point-to-point trail located near Grand Canyon, Arizona that features a waterfall and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round.

40.9 miles
11,742 feet
Point to Point





nature trips

trail running





wild flowers


over grown


no dogs

Generally an early morning start and a late finish with an amazing sunrise on the way down the South Kaibab and depending on your speed, a beautiful sunset as you hike back toward (or up) Bright Angel. You will love or hate the Grand Canyon, and you will never be the same again. South Kaibab to North Kaibab Trail back to Bright Angel Trail: 44 miles with with an elevation change of 20,000 feet. One thing is certain if you hike R2R2R. There are two main trails down from the south rim, which converge at Phantom Ranch Ranger Station in the bottom of the canyon (where the North Kaibab trail runs the rest of the way to the north rim): The shorter and steeper South Kaibab trail, and the longer, more gradual Bright Angel trail. The South rim sits around 7,200 feet higher than Colorados Front Range and the North rim is over 8,200 feet. Down on the bottom, the Colorado River is at about 2,400 feet. That means hiking gets a lot easier as youre descending but it gets a lot harder as you climb. Ascending nearly 5,000 feet after a long day is already a stout challenge; dont forget to account for the thinning air as well. The longest but least-challenging route is to descend and later return up Bright Angel (roughly 46 miles); the shortest but most challenging is to descend and later climb South Kaibab (42 miles). Or, mix it up, descending down South Kaibab but opting for the more forgiving Bright Angel on the return (44 miles).

2 months ago

Completed this hike in April 2018 and I don’t think anything can compare to the feeling of reaching Bright Angel Trailhead after hiking for 50 miles. We did a lot of research leading up to it with the help of the park rangers and the resources on the NPS website.

We got very lucky with the weather in April, but it’s important to know that it’s technically off-season so the water is shut off in certain places. Having a filter is a must! Our itinerary was South Kaibab trailhead to Cottonwood campground (Day 1, ~15 miles), Cottonwood to North Rim to Cottonwood (Day 2, ~15 miles), and Cottonwood to Bright Angel Trailhead (Day 3, ~16 miles). I also highly recommend hiking the extra distance (~4 miles there and back) to Bright Angel Point once you reach the North Rim trailhead. It will reward you with incomparable views of the canyon and it will be worth it, I promise!

Also, park your car at your finishing point (in this case, Bright Angel trailhead) or bring 2 cars. The last thing you’ll want to do is take a shuttle when you’re tired and sweaty!

2 months ago

44.7 miles completed in 29 hours 21 min. South Kaibab - North Kaibab - Bright Angel. Beautiful and very intense. Bucket list ✅

7 months ago

Amazing backpacking experience rim to (almost) rim to rim. I did this with one other woman and a guide (through Wildland Trekking) last January 2017. It was a 6 day trip. Super gorgeous. I thought the hardest day was the first day descent down S. Kaibob to bright angel campground. My calfs were killing me! We then stayed two nights at Cottonwood Campground and tried to Summit the north rim but it was too snowy. So we explored around the area and then went back to Bright Angel campground for another night and then did the final night at Indian garden campground on the way up the bright angel trail. We had tons of snow. The trails down were even closed because of all the snow that fell while we were in the canyon. For us, that meant snow at the top and rain at the bottom. It was still an amazing time. I highly recommend Wildland Trekking if you're looking for a guided experience. And hiking the GC is winter is so awesome. The snow on the canyon is gorgeous and there are fewer people and no 100 heat!!

8 months ago

The best backpacking trip I've experienced! Took 5 days to do it. Started down south Kaibab and stayed first night at bright angel campground. Day 2 hiked to cottonwood campground and stayed the night there. Day 3 day hiked to north rim and back and stayed at cottonwood again. Day 4 hiked back to bright angel campground and stayed the night there. Day 5 hiked out via bright angel trail.

The weather was perfect! Never dropped below 45 and the Cottonwoods were turning yellow.

I have bad knees so the hike down the South and North rims were brutal and slow. Did the hike up and out from bright angel campground in a little under 4 hours.

8 months ago

I dare say this is the best trail in the canyon.

11 months ago

Best backpacking trip I've ever done and probably ever will. Even though we did it at the right time of the year it was still way too hot especially at night. Hope to do it again.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Great backpacking trip rim to rim to rim. Each trail offered beautiful views and challenges. This is a must hike for anyone wanting to experience something as remarkable as the Grand Canyon.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Amazing hike love the canyon done many hike there but none that compares the this!!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

The last 4 miles were the toughest of the trip. Other than that, it was to spectacular to really feel the fatigue.

Monday, June 13, 2016

I did this hike/run for the first time in 2013. I'm a runner but had never really done much hiking before this. It took a little over 18 hours but was the most gratifying experience. Have been going back each year since. Prefer September timeframe as water is still available but it is not too chilly yet!

Friday, May 20, 2016

@Sam Smith, the water falls and fountains are glorious this time year!

trail running
Monday, May 09, 2016

The trail is SPECTACULAR ... We're planning my third R2R2R run in 12 short days! Can anyone please confirm that water supplies are currently active and plentiful at:

- On South Kaibab: Skeleton Point, and Tonto Crossing
- Phantom Ranch / South Kaibab bridge
- On North Kaibab: Cottonwood, Mule tie-ups (after the tunnel)
- On Bright Angel: Indian Gardens, and the Lookout

Thanks in advance! Sam

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

One of the coolest experiences of my hiking career. So many wonderful photo spots. A Bucket List item checked off.

Monday, January 25, 2016


Tuesday, December 22, 2015

You better be prepared for this one!

2 months ago

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11 months ago

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Monday, March 21, 2016

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Tuesday, November 10, 2015