South Kaibab to Phantom Ranch to Bright Angel Trail

HARD 220 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

12 days ago

The last 3 miles are tough!

14 days ago

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.

hiking
14 days ago

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!!

hiking
27 days ago

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!

hiking
28 days 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
1 month 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
1 month 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
1 month 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
1 month 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
2 months 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
2 months 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
3 months ago

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

3 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
3 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
3 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
3 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
3 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.

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