South Kaibab to Phantom Ranch to Bright Angel Trail

HARD 351 reviews

South Kaibab to Phantom Ranch to Bright Angel Trail is a 18.9 mile heavily trafficked point-to-point trail located near Grand Canyon Village, Arizona that features a waterfall and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, camping, birding, and backpacking and is best used from October until May.

DISTANCE
18.9 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
6,158 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Point to Point

backpacking

birding

camping

hiking

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

scramble

no dogs

2 days ago

Amazing! Last 3 miles are no joke!

2 days ago

hiked from North rim to South rim on the AZT in a day

5 days ago

This hike is amazing. You get to see so many amazing features of the canyon. While amazing, this hike is also tough! I did this hike the weekend of July 6th. Hiked down SK in about 4 hours starting at 5am. Spent the night at phantom which was a whopping 112 degrees F. Woke up at 3:30 and hiked back out. Make sure to grab some world famous lemonade at Phantom Ranch! The hike up was not that bad but I had been preparing all summer for it. I highly, highly recommend preparing by running and using a stairclimber/ incline treadmill. The hike up BA is absolutely gorgeous. Once you hit Indian Gardens, the last ~4 miles are pretty tough but doable if you take your time. Savor your time at Indian Gardens, there is nothing quite like it!

hiking
11 days ago

This is an amazing hike for sure. We did it in one day, but we had some surprises.
I am 47, non-runner, in reasonable shape but no active training. My son is 19 and in reasonable shape, again, no training.
We picked this hike because we had one day to see it all. We surely did see it all, this is an indescribably beautiful hike through varied conditions and terrain that leaves nothing out. I highly recommend it, but I would not do it again in a single day. Plan ahead and stay the night at Phantom Ranch. Seriously.
First surprise was that this hike isn't actually 15.5 miles as stated. We logged 18.7 miles, 5200 vertical feet and a total time of 11 hours.
We started early but by the time we got in the park, parked, found the right shuttle to S.K. trailhead and started off, it was 8 am. Way later than we had hoped.

We were surprised by the condition of the trail. We have hiked much lesser trails that are much less improved. Both S.K. and B.A. are very well maintained. Conditions vary from dirt, primitive cobble stone, loose sand, and loose rock. Lots of log and stone steps, but no boulder scrambles or such.

The S.K. trail down is steep and the vistas are continuously changing. There is no water and shade is very rare. We made it down to the river in about 3.5 hours. It was getting to be the hottest part of the day and at the bottom it is like an oven. So we made it to Phantom Ranch and chilled for about 30 minutes before soaking in a creek as we started up B.A. trail.

B.A. trail is a totally different animal. It primarily winds it's way through a single large canyon and the terrain varies from cliffs along the river to semi-dense forest. There is lots of creek and drinkable water along the way which we took advantage of at every opportunity.
We emerged from B.A. in the dark (not the plan) at about 7pm.

One the way down we saw many other hikers, probably 30. On the way up from Phantom up to Indian Garden we saw only 1 other person. After Indian Garden there were about a dozen of us that periodically passed each other on the way up.

We each had a 2L camelback and carried a 1L for Nunn tabs which we refilled along the way. On the way down we went through about 2.5L each. Temp was 80ish with total sun.
On the way up we started with our 3L each. Refilled 2L along the way. There are three water stops in the last 4.5 miles so we weren't likely to run out, but we went through a lot of it. Lots of Cliff bars, jerky and such throughout the day.

With 4 miles to go I was thinking we might do the hike in a total of 10 hours, but as others have said, the last two miles or so are pretty tough. Nothing crazy, just a non-stop grind after a very long day. We were doing 26-27 minute miles typical. The last 3.5 were 35+.

My son was totally spent and the down and back left him in rough shape. I have bad ITB knees which I started to feel at about mile 3 and got really bad with about 4 miles to go. In the last two I was practically using my trekking poles as extra legs. I had ITB wraps and we both had poles. I would say poles are a must.

14 days ago

My friend and I age 27, and 30 just completed this hike 9/30. Trekking down S.Kaibab at 10am arriving at Phantom Ranch around 4 and hiking up Bright Angel the next day in. Both of us not novice but still beginner hikers who found it easy going down, quite a bit tougher on the return. One of us has bad knees and hiking poles were a life saver. Toilets along the way were nice, only one water refuel station on S.kaibab. We narrowly missed a pipe breakage, where no water was available for a good amount of time, bringing a filteration system, water pump or life straw for backup is a good idea. We also had 25-30lb packs with the food, water, camera gear. If I had the chance to repeat, I'd cut weight by half with the exception of water and get a much earlier start to beat the heat. You'll need all that you think and then some. We brought 2.5L each, ran into 2 gals who were doing rim to rim in one day and ran out 3/4 the way, asking passerbys for any spare. So better to err on the side of caution and bring extra. Salt tablets also helped and dense nutritious snacks. It is incredibly worth the trip especially if you get a chance to stay and wander along the bottom. Take your time and enjoy these amazing views!

21 days ago

My girlfriend and I did this hike in one day, even though it’s not recommended. We have done tougher hikes before, but we hadn’t taken the brutal weather into consideration since the reports stated only 86-87 degrees. But in retrospect, maybe we shouldn’t have, at least not in these conditions. It was over 100 degrees (max 103 at Indian Garden) that day and we had just flown in from the Netherlands the day before being jetlagged. The elevation difference made it more difficult for us since our country is flat. Anyhow, going down South Kaibab is really easy, especially if you have long legs, you can almost run it down. Took us 2.5 hours, had a pit stop next to the Colorado river and the small creeks after that. When we were going back up, it was extremely hot when we reached Indian Garden. You can refill your water bottles there, which is much needed. After that the fun starts, you’re already worn out and then the steepest part begins. The steps become bigger making it tough to reach the end. We did it on willpower, just under 12 hours, being totally exhausted. We met a ranger at the 3 mile resthouse who told us that 2 people died of heat stroke in the past months, so if you are no avid hiker, this is not the day hike for you, at least not in extreme weather conditions. Camping for 1 night before making your way up is recommended in that case. Even though this turned out to be the most strenuous hike, we loved the magical views and how majestic only the grand canyon can be.

23 days ago

This was an amazing hike! Highly recommended!

hiking
23 days ago

I was concerned from reading the reviews. Went down to Phantom Ranch from S Kaibab and back up Bright Angel. My tracker (GPS stopped just prior to reaching the top) indicated trip in 6:50 hours (4,100 calories!)
It is hard but definitely not "brutal". Although I can see how it would be doing it during the summer (I did 9/21/18). To give you an idea, hiking Yosemite's Half-Dome is almost the same distance but that one is much harder. Brought 3 bottles of water and 2 of Gatorade (refilled one water at Indian Garden on the way back up). Left @ 6 am and was back up @ 1:50 pm... Drank every drop of fluid. Beautiful hike!

hiking
27 days ago

I traveled this trail las July down to phantom Ranch and back up the same way . It’s a difficult climb if your not prepared. Bring a good hat , plenty of water for the trail is dry except for the river water . I’m from Texas so the heat was not so bad for me but others people on the trail was dropping like flys. lol lots of tents set up on the trail the next morning. Beautiful views but come prepared to high step 5000 times !

hiking
1 month ago

Easily one of the best, most difficult trails I have ever done. Start as early as possible and get down quickly without tiring yourself out. We started at 6:30 and hit the black bridge at 9:30. Averaged a good pace of almost 3mph. Just over the black bridge is your first water source. Head to phantom ranch to rest and drink lemonade. Before you head back across the silver bridge up bright angel. Soak your shirt, hat, anything in the water spout. Hiking up to Indian garden is long but just has a moderate incline. Keep soaking your clothes in the streams you pass. At Indian garden you have another drinkable water station. Here is where the hike pours on the suck. You have water every mile and a half from Indian garden, but the incline and switchbacks get really tough. We made it up in just under 11 hours. Bring lots of salty snacks and Gatorade or Nuun tablets to replace electrolytes. Bring trekking poles for sure as well as a hat and something to put on your neck like a bandana that can be soaked. We were fortunate with the weather on September 1st. Light rain and thunderstorm showers kept the sun away. I would not hike this in the summer ever! Make sure you train for this one. My legs didn’t start hurting until the last mile and a half. Just keep moving and keep your energy up! Drink water every 5-10 minutes to avoid dehydration. If you are thirsty you already are dehydrated.

hiking
1 month ago

1 month ago

Beautiful hike. Start south kaibab early so you can catch sunrise at Oh Ah point. Going down to phantom ranch is very fast. We started later than we wanted to, hit the trail head at 7 am and missed sunrise :(. Got back to the trailhead at 3 PM. Amazing hike, wish we would successfully get back country permits. We keep getting denied. Rim to rim is on the bucket list but not success obtaining back country permits.

1 month ago

fabulous. The downhill was killer on old knees. Gorgeous.

2 months ago

Great hike. Not a lot of shade going down. Switchbacks and plenty of water stations on the way up. Challenging full day hike. Start before sunrise and rest at Phantom Ranch. Classic hike.

hiking
2 months ago

I hiked this trail from 5am to 4pm, totally 11 hours. I parked my car in the visitor center and took the shuttle to South Kaibab trailhead, went down to the river, visited the Phantom Ranch and mailed some postcards, and went up from Bright Angel trail. It will be the most impressed hiking in my life. I feel this hiking is meaningful for me.
The day I hiked is not hot on the rim and it's a little raining in the hike. I took 2L water in the beginning, but not drink too much when going down because of the cool weather. In the campground beside the rive you can refill your water. Remember that the temperature in the bottom of the canyon is much higer that the rim. Even in that cool day I felt so hot when hiking in the bottom, which made me a little uncomfortable.
When going up along the Bright Angel trail, there is water in the Indian Garden, 3-mile and 1.5 mile rest houses, so you don't need to take too much water. Near the Indian Garden there will be a small river and many trees. It's a beautiful place to rest. The last 3 or 4 miles is very steep. Don't be hurry, especially at that time you are already tired.
I suggest to take two alpenstocks to protect your knees. Have a good trip on this trail!

2 months ago

An exquisite classic. It's amazing to watch the canyon transform as you descent and get away from the crowds up top. It can definitely be done in a day if you're in extremely good shape (like marathon runner good) but I recommend doing it in two so it's more enjoyable. The descent is hard on your joints (bring poles) and the ascent is exhausting even if you are prepared. If you ddon't have all of the supplies you need you can rent gear (like a tent, big backpack, poles, etc.) for a day or two at the general store. It's so important to start hiking before the sun rises as it's far hotter at the bottom of the canyon than at the rim and also to bring electrolyte packets and salty snacks because you will sweat a ton. If you have the time and are conditioned for it, it's an extraordinary hike that makes you appreciate the Grand Canyon in an entirely new way.

2 months ago

Top notch and rewarding at every turn. Difficult to do in one day but I've done it twice and will do it again. I think most people do this in a few days but I had no overnight permits. I love this place, it is magical. I would highly recommend hiking down kaibab and up bright angel because water refill stops are only on bright angel trail and you will need it especially if it's warm outside.

2 months ago

My all-time favorite!

2 months ago

Went with my wife to see the grand canyon. decided to hike it. Left at 1030 am with one water bottle apiece. Got to phantom ranch around 130. Had some lemonade. Put our feet in the Colorado. Got back to the top around 5. Heat wasnt too bad. There was still snow on the ground. Ate tons of cheese balls and oreos on the way home.

2 months ago

worth it.

backpacking
3 months ago

Jun 25 early morning I hiked down to phantom ranch. 3 hr down and some beautiful sights . I carried 2 l of water and had no problem reaching the bottom. I stayed in a cabin with my family that was on mules that night and made the choice to clime back out Kaibab. I left camp at 4:00 and reach the top 5 hr later with legs that felt like Jello.
This is a hard uphill clim ! I don’t train hell I didn’t even plan to make it to the bottom! Lol so !
If I had it to do it again I’d bring 3 liters of water
Both ways ,Walking stick, and a lot of mental strain. Well worth the trip !

3 months ago

no water currently available on this trail.

hiking
3 months ago

Did this hike with my (62 y/o in September) father over the course of 2 days. Both days, we started hiking at 4 am in an effort to beat the heat as much as possible. With sunrise just after 5 am, an early start time is essential, especially when hiking up from Bright Angel camp where the temps at night can still be triple digits, so be sure to bring a good headlamp. Do not underestimate anything about this trail! The Grand Canyon is epic and every trail/hike should be respected as such. Many people are capable with training and preparation; my dad is a perfect example. He crushed it. It took 4 hours to hike down Kaibab and about 6.5 hours to hike up Bright Angel. The rest of the day after hiking down was spent mostly in the creek (a necessity to stay relatively cool in 115 degree temps) and on short hikes down to Boat Beach (AMAZING), the ruins, and along the creek past Phantom Ranch (very nice and shaded). You can purchase cool drinks in Phantom Canteen and have a short escape from the heat. Bright Angel will have potable water every 1.5 mile starting at Indian Gardens seasonally in the summer months, so bring extra water starting out (maybe 2-3 liters). Drink and eat every time you stop to rest, which should be often. A hat makes a big difference providing at least a little shade for your face. The last 3 miles of switchbacks are the most challenging, so be prepared. Try the burgers at Harvey House when you make it out!

3 months ago

Definitely a difficult trail. Do not suggest doing this in one day. We started at 10am weather was perfect and we proceeded down to skeleton point before we committed to doing the full hike. Got down to Phantom ranch and made the choice to go back out Bright angel.

hiking
4 months ago

Our group, all 14 people completed the SK-Phantom Ranch-BA route safely in mid-May.
We took the 5am bus to South Kaibab Trailhead. Because we parked at the backcountry information center around 4:55 am, and we didn't know the hikers express shuttle actually stops at the information center, we ran the hell out of us to catch the bus there.
So point one, the bus actually stops at the backcountry information center and the visitor center near SK. But giving there might be large groups(we ran into a group of 30-40, if not even more), so starting at Bright Angel Lodge may ensure a seat.
The shuttle actually only takes 20 minutes to get to the trailhead, but since we all need to use the SK trailhead restrooms (There are only 2), so we actually started hiking at 6am.
Hiking down was mostly running for me and my buddy. It took us about 2.5 hrs to reach the bridge. I slipped on a rock and bend my ankle in the middle, but luckily it didn't cause any serious damage.
My water consumption to the Bright Angel Campground was 1.5L, but brought more did give me peace in mind(I had 3L) as the weather really gets hot around 8 or 8:30 and there is no shade on South Kaibab Trail.
We relaxed a bit, refill water, used restroom at Phantom Ranch, they offer iced Lemonade, iced Beer, simple snacks, postcards with "Carried by Mule" stamps(really cool!) and some basic hot weather essentials like buff and cooling cloth, credit cards is OK to be used here.
A lot of hikers hanging out here, squirrels too. There were a lot of signs reminds hikers and visitors don't feed the squirrels, but obviously, a lot of people did before, as the squirrels are not afraid of people at all. My tracking pole felt off ground next to one and touched its fur, and this guy/gal did not care at all. I even saw one robbed one hiker's apple in front all of us while the pool hiker was just turning her head to find something in her backpack.
It was hot down at the river, I didn't check the temperature, but our group member who arrived later said it reached 110F at Phantom Ranch around 11 am.
We took about 1 hr break before my buddy “whipped" me out of the shade and we were on Bright Angel Trail at 10 am.
There was a section after crossing Silver Bridge which was all sandy surface for about half a mile, which made it really hard to walk on, I strongly suggest bring running gaiters to prevent sand and rocks to get into the shoes if you wear low ankle shoes.
It took us about 1 hr to get to Indian Garden, where we took our lunch break for an hour, the thermometer here says it is 95F.
The climb up was actually not as torturing as I expected. The rest spots are optimally arranged(Indian Garden, 3 miles, Mile and Mile Half) to be 1.5 miles apart from each other. For me and my buddies, it's about 1 hr hike from each stop, it paced us perfect so we can re-apply sunscreen, take Salt Stick tablets and eat. Besides the heat, the trail itself is moderately steep, wide, and easy to walk.
In order to achieve everybody's most comfortable hiking experience, we kind of spread out into 5 groups at the end, 1 super fast hiker arrived at 3:25 pm, taking 9 hrs only from the beginning; I and 2 others take exactly 10 hrs. Our last group arrived at 8:30 pm when it started to get cold and rained a bit. But we all made it.

The view of the canyon is stunning, and walking up Bright Angel trail I can see why most people take this route, I saw abundant rock layers, mountain formations, waterfalls, creeks, plants and living creatures. I even doubt I heard a rattle, but that might not be true. We ran into 2 mule groups, one for a guided tour, one seems like just carrying a bunch of stuff. There are trees, bushes, cactus, lizards, flies, squirrels, deer. The canyon view is always at my head turn, each time I stopped to catch my breath, I found myself turning back and looking at it. The unspeakable beauty of mother nature always touches me and always is the motivation for me to hike on.

4 months ago

Do this hike yearly. Never a let down.

4 months ago

This was my first big hike. Did this with a friend in 1 day. Started at 6 am and didn’t finish until 11 pm. It’s a hard trail to do in 1 day. A lot of switch backs on Bright Angel. We ran out of water also, but there are water stations along Bright Angel. Ended up hiking a good portion at night in the cold late Oct night.

Having said all of that, this trail is so worth it! Beautiful views. Amazing adventure. And you might like us make a few new friends along the way. The nights in late Oct are cold and the days can get really hot. So dress accordingly.

I definitely recommend this hike. Just not in 1 day. Do it with a friend because you’ll need the support. She made the difference.

hiking
4 months ago

This is the best hike I ever did in my life. The trail hike is simply amazing and stunning. This hike should be on the bucket list of every hiker. It provides you with the best scenic and breathtaking views while testing the fitness and endurance level. I am an average 28 year old hiker, I don’t have much of an active personality, but i took this task in order to test myself.

So we (me and my 2 friends) started a little late at 8:00 am from south Kaibab trailhead upto the Colorado River at the bottom of the canyon. It’s a 7.5 mile hike. This trail does not have a single water station, shade or restroom till you reach the bottommost point of the canyon.

So we started with 6 of 500ml water bottles, 2 protein bars, 1 sandwich and 2 small bag of nuts. From the starting it was a steep descent with a temperature at 80F, with no flat surface and sun all over the face. The first point we came across was ooh aah point with amazing views. You can actually as far as your eyes can manage. It feels like you are on an alien planet probably Mars with giant canyons and mountains. We spend some time there, about 10 mins for pics and all. Then we start descending again and passed cedar ridge. The river was visible as we descent and yet it was afar. With 3 stops, 2 bottles of water, and a protein bar, we were able to reach the Colorado River by passing black bridge at 11 am. The temperature was fine at 85 F. Although the river was really cold. We took a break of an hr. and fed ourselves there. We did not proceed to the phantom ranch as it was another 1.5 miles from black bridge.

At noon, we prepared ourselves for the return journey via bright angel trailhead. After crossing the silver bridge, at the entrance of the bright angel trail there was a water station. I filled my empty bottles and wet my towel to cool my head off as it started to get hot. The return hike was about 8.5 miles all the way to the top with three stops, one at Indian garden 4 miles and two water stops at 1.5 miles each.

The hike to the Indian garden was not that challenging (not that steep ascent) and you will be able to see the Colorado River roaring on with people rafting. It took us about 3 hrs. to cover those 4 miles with an elevation gain of about 1000-1500 ft. There were no clouds in sky and it was raining hellfire. We reached Indian gardens at 3:30 pm. It had shades, restroom, and water stations. We took a break of 30 mins there. A word of caution, squirrels at Indian garden are notorious. If you are not careful, they tend to open the zip of the bag and steal your food or worse they might have fleas. You have to be on your toes regarding that.

After break, we started for the next water stop at 4:00 pm which was about 1.5 miles from garden. The first 0.5 miles were wonderful but the next 1 mile, the actual climb started with steep ascent. It started taking toll on my knees and calves. But we reached to the water stop around 5:00 pm with 2 breaks. While enjoying the wilderness, beauty of the nature and taking pics, be careful of your surroundings, as there might be rattlesnakes in the bushes one of which i came across. It slithered suddenly just past me and my whole body froze in fear. Rattlesnakes generally travel in pair, so I was kind of looking for other one (haha).

We took a break of 10 mins, filled my bottles, talked to some of the people who were also hiking up, some jolly moments. It is really important to keep yourself hydrated because you lose water way faster and imbalance of electrolytes can make you really tired, and that’s when you start to feel drowsy.
We started climbing again for the next water stop at 1.5 mile at 5:15pm. That 1.5 mile hike was steep and as I was looking at the standing canyon over me and I wondered if I would be able to complete it or not. My knees and calves were wearing me down, but we reached there at 6:15 pm with an elevation gain of roughly about 1500 ft. The view from that water stop was stunningly beautiful. You can gaze all the way down as well where you came from and as far as you can see forward with no obstruction. It was majestic, I have no other words to describe that. You simply have to go there.

We were prepared for the last 1.5 mile stretch as we saw the mountain standing majestically over us waiting for us to conquer it. After a break of 15 mins, we started at 6:30 pm. As we were climbing we saw ourselves climbing over the canyon and trails that we left behind. With 2 breaks, we were able to see the top of the canyon and noise of the bus engines and people cheering. We reached to the top at 7:30 pm.
I was not able to believe myself that we measure the whole canyon in 11:30 hrs. made it all the way to the top. But I believe now that aside from physical fitness, the excitement, determination and motivation from my friends were the factors that led me and my friends to complete this hike in a single day.

hiking
4 months ago

Unbelieveably amazing trail! Everywhere you look is a postcard picture scene worthy of grabbing a pic. The challenge was juuuuuust right and was able to complete it in about 10 1/2 hours, including many photo stops and lunch down by the river. The day I went it was about 105' in the Canyon and speaking for myself, that's about as hot as I could handle safely. Luckily there are a few water stations on the way up Bright Angel.

If I could I'd rate this a 6 or 7 out of 5, simply spectacular and I didn't want it to end.

4 months ago

What a great trail! Beautiful scenery everywhere! The hike out is challenging for sure but worth it! The heat made things very difficult for awhile. Be sure to hydrate REALLY well!

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