South Kaibab to Phantom Ranch to Bright Angel Trail

HARD 213 reviews

South Kaibab to Phantom Ranch to Bright Angel Trail is a 16.6 mile moderately trafficked point-to-point trail located near Grand Canyon Village, Arizona that features a waterfall and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round.

DISTANCE
16.6 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
4685 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Point to Point

backpacking

birding

camping

hiking

nature trips

trail running

walking

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

scramble

no dogs

It's the Grand Canyon just breath taking

hiking
1 day ago

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.

hiking
6 days ago

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.

hiking
7 days ago

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!!

hiking
7 days ago

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!!

hiking
20 days ago

Leave as early as possible! To do this trail, I camped just outside of the National Park property the night before. I was on the trail by 4:00 am in attempt to beat the heat. The descent can really start to hurt your hips. Once you hit the Colorado River, re-stock up on water before going back up Bright Angel. It still got hot on the way up the canyon, despite leaving so early in the day. After hours and hours of pain climbing back up, reaching the top was an amazing feeling. I will definitely be doing this again!

1 month ago

Really nice hike, perfect way to fully enjoy and discover the grand canyon.

We did it late December and had perfect conditions, just a little snow near the rim on the 2nd day. The hike is long but not difficult: the trail is well maintained and rated for stock.

hiking
1 month ago

One of the best hikes I have done.

hiking
1 month ago

Took 3.5 hours to get down to Phantom Ranch. I’m a fast walker so I had to tell myself to stop and enjoy the phenomenal views. Slipped a few times. Definitely bring hiking poles. Amazing hike.

backpacking
1 month ago

Hiked SK to PR to BA in two days Thanksgiving week. The weather was perfect. Awesome experience and so unlike anything I've ever done before. The Park Rangers say that less than 1% of the park's annual visitors hike to the bottom of the canyon and back. I am proud of this accomplishment.

hiking
2 months ago

Amazing experience. Kaibab in rough shape.

hiking
2 months ago

Absolutely amazing hike, but definitely no walk in the park. Took us a little under 7 1/2 hrs, including stops.

2 months ago

Words cannot describe the wonder of hiking the Grand Canyon. I keep coming back for more. I initially did Rim to river to rim in a day ( the “do not do rim and back in a day” warning sign in the Bright Angel gift store challenged me) a few time when I was younger (about age 62 or 63). Now I spend a night at Phantom Ranch (69 now). Just remember that you never have too much water.

hiking
2 months ago

All I can say is wow, this took me and 7 of my friends/ co- workers about 9 hours to complete we went on oct 21 2017 , stayed in Williams az the night before so we could get a early start since we’re all from Phoenix area well worth ! You will wake up sore make sure you pack Accordingly, it was rough don’t get me wrong but worth the pain

hiking
2 months ago

First thing first, do not do this hike in one day if you are not conditioned enough, nor do you do extreme activities or active daily in anyway. I learned the hard way, but I made it out, and because of that it was a hike well worth it.

I am 28 years old, and my friend is 29. We aren't your daily gym rats, nor do we regularly do any outside physical activities. We attempted to condition one month before the hike not taking it too seriously or too lightly. One month was not enough! So heed my warning, if you are similar where you don't condition enough, this hike is not for you if you want to do it ONE day. If you are like me, plan ahead and get a reservation at Phantom Ranch and do the hike in 2 days.

We started the hike around 6:30 a.m. going down South Kaibab. It took us 4-5 hours to hike down the trail to Phantom Ranch. It will be a constant of going downhill, so it may take a toll on your knees and/or ankles, cause it did mine. Plus, the trail going down South Kaibab is not nicely paved. It has a lot of rocks, sand, holes in the ground. It is important to bring walking sticks to help ease the landing when taking steps down. Some steps were steeper than others (off topic but we saw a lady who was jogging down the Kaibab trail and we were in utter shock and amazement!), so be well prepared. Also, there is no water along the Kaibab trail. I had two water bottles and a large gatorade bottle which was sufficient enough for me down...going up was a different story, but that'll be explained later.

Took an hour break and lunch at the Phantom Ranch. Don't even think about asking them for another way out of the canyons cause they will just refer you to the Bright Angel trail. And if you don't have reservations there you will not be able to sleep in the lodges. Campsites weren't full when we got there, but we didn't bring our camping gear so we had no choice but to continue upward.

We continued forward to the Bright Angel trail around 12 p.m. By this time the sun was high in the sky and it was HOT. We rested so much going up that I lost count. We eventually ran out of water by this time, but luckily along the trail there is water. However, it took us 3-4 hours to get to the first water stop at the Indian campgrounds. Moving forward, as we got closer to the rim it got steeper which caused for more resting. Around 8-9 p.m. we exerted our bodies so heavily we almost felt like we weren't going to make it. By this time it was pitched black and extremely cold as well. So around this time of the year, pack a jacket. Luckily we also had our head light gears (Off topic again, but I actually came across three ring-tailed cats! They're nocturnal animals). As we continued forward, we finally made it to the top around 11 p.m. We were cold, scared, body exhausted, mentally drained, but proud and felt accomplished the next day. However...our bodies were in so much pain and soreness for the remaining 2-3 days.

But as we look back at our adventure, we would always remember what an epic hike it was. The sights. The beauty of the canyon. The experience was all worth it! However, we will never do it again.

hiking
2 months ago

What an incredible experience! I'm so glad I did this hike! But make no doubt about it, it's a tough, but very doable, day hike (if you're in good condition and a strong hiker). Doing it in late Oct helped too. The temps at the bottom were still in the 80's but there was a cool breeze most of the day. I took 8 hours to complete but stopped for 2 hours between lunch, pictures (too many) and stopping to fill water bottles. So my actual hike time was a few minutes under 6 hours end-to-end.

There is an express shuttle that runs 6, 7 and 8 AM from the Bright Angel lodge and drops you at the South Kaibab trailhead (there is no public parking at that trailhead). It's a steep, 7 mile descent to Phantom Ranch but so beautiful. Went to Phantom Ranch just to see it but there really isn't much there to see. I actually liked the Indian Garden area much more. But I did love the river and the suspension bridges at the bottom.

The toughest part of the Bright Angel trail is the first half of the last mile near the top. But having two water stops (3 mile and 1 1/2 mile rests) helps.

While not my favorite hike ever it is one of those hikes you have to do at least once (if you're a hiker) just for the experience and to say you have.

hiking
2 months ago

Hiked down South Kaibab on Oct 19th, stayed at Phantom Ranch that night and hiked up on Bright Angel on Oct 20th. Loved the whole experience of hiking/staying at Phantom Ranch. Looks like October is the perfect time for this hike.

hiking
3 months ago

Very difficult scaling the 1 mile vertical from the river but the views on the way down are absolutely spectacular. It’s worth the effort. Start right and sunrise and you will be rewarded with some of the most magnificent scenery you could possibly see.

hiking
3 months ago

My husband and I hiked this on Tuesday and I'm 55 and he's 54. We left at 6:30 with a temp of 36 degrees at the top, with clear skies and a light wind. Took us 3 hrs to get to Phantom Ranch - a total of 7.4mi by my Garmin. The views are spectacular as the sun rises. We both had Camel packs with water and tailwind. Didn't drink as much on the way down. Planned snacks as I would for an ultra. Took 45 min at Phantom ranch (got lemonade, recharged everything, changed socks & added water to the packs) before heading back to and up Bright Angel. Took us 5hr 1 min to get to the top - 11 miles - for a total of 18.4miles. Much less steep than the So Kaibab and "easier" to hike but much longer. Plan on appropriate snacks in addition to hydration. There is great beer available at the Bright Angel Lodge after you finish. You won't be sorry you did this hike if you plan and train well. It is truly an incredible experience!

3 months ago

My husband and I in our mid-50s hiked the Grand Canyon as a bucket list item. We hiked in October the weather was perfect definitely layer up. We took the S. Kabab down Bright Angel up and stayed at Phantom Ranch. The S. Kabab was a tough hike down hard on the knees. Make sure you take plenty of water and snacks. There's no water available on this trail. It took us 6 hours to get down. The Phantom Ranch was awesome! We met a lot of people. There were some people that had guides going down who took care of their food and pace for them. Also, bring other comfortable shoes so you can get your hiking boots off. Some people hiked a day stayed 2 nights at Phantom Ranch then hiked out. We only did one night. We took Bright Angel up we liked this trail better it's very scenic and cooler. It took us 9 hours out. There's water on the trail and more people. Both going in and out we took a lot of breaks and just slowly paced ourselves!!! Our bodies were sore but it was worth the awesome experience!!!

hiking
3 months ago

Awesome hike. Took South Kaibab down to the Phantom Ranch back up Bright Angel. Do not attempt in hot weather. You will suffer on the way up. We started 5:45 Oct 2nd nice crisp cool day just before day break. Should have started even earlier. If you have bad knees do not take this trail. It absolutely stunning but you knees will suffer. People with good knees will have fun all the way down.

South Kaibab is just amazing all the way down. Stunning at every step of the way. Views are mind blowing. We wanted to make good time so only stopped at Ooh - Aah point. The stop for a few mins for pictures and to take in the view. All the way down we only stopped for a total of 15 mins. Made it all the way to the Phantom Ranch in 3 Hours. Stopped at the Phantom Ranch for about an hour. Now looking back this should have been a shorter stop. The weather was just nice and cool. (Now looking back we should have stopped in the shade somewhere loaded up on carbs and kept moving rather than going to the phantom ranch. We should have directly gone to the Bright Angel Trail from South Kaibab. The Bagels, cream cheese and jelly helped with carb intake that we bought at the Phantom Ranch but I felt we wasted time and it got hot going up. Next time we can just carry some sandwich's down and load up on the way up besides all the power bars etc. I thought we could get sandwiches at the phantom ranch but not too much you can buy there.)

The way up we took the Bright Angel Trail and it started getting hot for me even before Indian Garden the first stop on the trail up about 5.5 miles up from Indian Garden. The heat really bothers me. We were a group of 9 friends. I was in the first group so we were considerably ahead. The latter group had knee issues and were suffering in the back coming down the South Kaibab Trail. Of course we did not know that at the time. We stopped and ate put our feet in the cold water creek at Indian Garden. It was great stop.

After Indian Garden the real climb starts all the way to the top with 2 stops for water in between. 3 Mile rest stop and 1.5 mile rest top. The heat bothered me a lot up to the 3 mile point. It was not as big of an issue for the rest of the folks in our group. It was a very pleasant day but out in the sun it was hot. As soon as you got in the shade it was really nice. Even though it may be pleasant at Phantom ranch the middle section of the hike up gets hot because of the geography. I can't imagine the heat in summer. Heat is a big factor. Stopped for short breaks at 3 mile and 1.5 mile rest stop. The hike is obviously hard and one day down and back should be done by people in good physical condition and that exercise pretty regularly. The way back took us a total of 6 Hours 45 mins. A couple of my friend that were in better cardio and physical condition finished in 6 Hours 10 mins.
Our second group did not fair so well because 2 of the hikers had a very hard time on the way down. They should have turned back at Cedar Ridge or at least at Skeleton Point on the way down. It was a bad decision for them to go down. If you have verizon service it seem to work even in the canyon 80% of the way down. They ended up calling 911(Park Service for help but were told to sleep overnight. The park service was not going to pull them out unless they were dying or very critically ill. The park service said they could provide a code with a locker at one of the stops for emergency food and sleeping bag) Our friend decided to carry on in bad condition. At 9:30 PM me and another friend of mine had to go back down about a mile to help of our fellow hikers. She made it back with our help but could have been a lot worse for her. Thanks to Verizon service that we found out what was going on with her. Otherwise we would not have known at all. Make sure you have head lamps if you are starting early which is highly recommended if you are going to do the hike in one day. We needed it to go down and help her up.

All in all it was a heck of a lot of fun. DO NOT TAKE THIS HIKE LIGHTLY BECAUSE IT IS VERY DECEIVING AND IT IS EASY TO SEE HOW THE GRAND CANYON CAN LURE YOU IN.

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