South Kaibab Trail to Phantom Ranch

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Grand Canyon National Park

South Kaibab Trail to Phantom Ranch is a 14.3 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Grand Canyon, Arizona that features a river and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options. Horses are also able to use this trail.

Distance: 14.3 miles Elevation Gain: 4,872 feet Route Type: Out & Back

backpacking

camping

hiking

horseback riding

nature trips

bird watching

river

views

wildlife

no dogs

absolutely beautiful and extremely strenuous. There is water available at phantom at the bottom. fantastic adventure!!!

1 month ago

This was not an incredibly lengthy hike but it is very steep. I'm not exactly the tallest person and I felt like some of the steps down were very tall. I definitely would recommend hiking poles. They saved me from falling a couple times. I had never used them before this hike and they were invaluable. Get started early and hike a couple miles down and find a great place to watch the sunrise. It's a nice chance to take a break and get a snack and the photos are amazing.

hiking
2 months ago

My wife and I, along with 4 kids (ages 2, 7, 10, and 13) hiked down to Phantom Ranch a couple of weeks ago. We spent a night at the bottom and then hiked out the next day. I’m writing the review because I didn’t see many comments about taking kids down to PR. I highly recommend it! First, we carried our 2 year old using an Osprey pack. For the other kids, we trained for months (walking stairs, hiking, and running up to 6 miles at a time). My kids aren’t superstar athletes but I was surprised how enthusiastically they embraced the training. They REALLY wanted to camp at the bottom and they trained hard. Here are a few tips: 1. Take a lot less stuff (even if you’re using mules to haul gear like we did); 2. Walking sticks (or just one) was very helpful even for the kids; 3. Even without rain you have to cross many streams so waterproof shoes helped the kids. 4. And finally - don’t listen to the naysayers who might discourage you from taking kids. We camped next to another family who had a 2 year old, and the rangers say they frequently see families with kids.

hiking
no shade
2 months ago

Hiked down to Bright Angel CG and stayed two nights then hiked out. Took three hours down and would definitely recommend trekking poles. Some of the steps are made for mules, not humans. Took four hours to hike out. Only three tough uphill stretches but be prepared for a serious weather change. Started in shorts and t-shirt but ended with long sleeves, wool hat, and gloves and was chilly.

2 months ago

My sister and I did this full out-and-back hike yesterday. Negligible icy patches near the top. Easily avoidable - no need for crampons. We started at 7:15am. Total hiking time was 6.5 hours plus an hour hanging out, eating, refilling water, etc. at the bottom. We finished the hike just before 3pm. Beautiful hike! Definitely a good workout. Boy were we tired by the end, but so worth it! Be sure to being sun protective clothing, sunscreen, ample salty snacks, and plenty of water. I went through nearly 4 litres and it was a fairly overcast day. There are water refill stations at the bottom at Phantom Ranch.

hiking
2 months ago

Friend and I did this yesterday! Pretty much 24/7 views from the trail. Woke up for the sunrise and then left around 7, slight ice for the first three switchbacks of the trail, crampons unnecessary. Got to phantom ranch in about two hours, took us around three and a half to get back up. Advise starting early, sun exposure on the way up can make this more exhausting! Bring plenty of water and salty foods. Take pictures on the way down because the last three miles on the way up were very crowded. Worth the views.

hiking
icy
rocky
3 months ago

My girlfriend and I hiked down to Phantom Ranch and back up South Kaibab yesterday. There was a little ice scattered about the trail for the quarter mile only. Wore some diamond grip traction devices for that span only. Probably didn't need them. Good hiking boots would've been sufficient. We started at 7:15 and there wasn't many people on the trail. Made it to Phantom Ranch in 2.5 hours with plenty of stops to take pictures. Ate lunch there that we packed and hydrated and streched for 45 minutes then headed back up at 10:30. Took us about 4 hours to get back keeping a steady pace. Pretty steep in areas with lots of people on the upper half to slow us down. Trekking poles would've been helpful. Only wore a long sleeve base layer and a puffer jacket. Plenty of sun exposure on this route. 2.5 liters of water and Gatorade was plenty. Overall great hike!

hiking
icy
no shade
washed out
3 months ago

Great trail. Amazing views! Suggest starting early. We left Phantom Ranch at 6:15 AM and walked in the dark for an hour. We hiked down Bright Angel, stayed at Phantom Ranch, and hiked out Kaibab. Bring water as there is no water along the trail. I suggest bringing hiking sticks as trail is steep and uneven. Can be pretty windy at the top. A must do! Great views! You will need to catch a bus back to the village.

hiking
no shade
4 months ago

Favorite trail in the GCNP hands down. It offers the most amazing views. There is NO shade, and NO water available on this trail. Make sure you carry enough water and don't underestimate the heat. Start early on this trail. Headlamps are perfect for night/early morning hiking. I have hiked this trail in its entirety and continues up the North Kaibab trail. I have also hiked up this trail. I prefer hiking up South Kaibab over Bright Angel; yes it's shorter; that's because it's steeper. It's a lot of "unevenly spaced stairs" I used poles each time I've hiked this trail, I find them useful. Also, when hiking this trail you need to remember that going down is optional, going up is mandatory. This trail offers spectacular views, with less crowds due to its steepness and needing a shuttle to get to. 10/22/19- new PR for me down SK to PR & back up SK- 5 hours 27 minutes

hiking
muddy
snow
5 months ago

Amazing views! Hiked down to Skeleton Point then came back up. Next time we’ll go farther. The icy trail turns into mud after Cedar Ridge. I recommend hiking poles and crampons if you have them. Had a great hike and would definitely do it again!

hiking
7 months ago

Totally spectacular. Loved the hike. I did it one way. I stayed at Phantom Ranch last night

hiking
fee
8 months ago

South Kaibab trail down to Colorado River and Phantom Ranch

Unique spectacular views of the Grand Canyon. Warning: there is no water on this trail. We carried 2L of water each person. I would recommend 3L to be safe. A family arrived with one 1L each and they suffered from severe heat stroke. Middle of August temp was 120° at Phantom Ranch. Persevere through all this and you arrive on a beautiful bridge over the Colorado River. Take a dip on boat beach. The water is a refreshing 45° year round

hiking
10 months ago

The hardest part of this trail is that it is almost entirely down hill. It is very unforgiving on your knees. At 60 years old, my knees took a beating going down to the Phantom Ranch. It is a very challenging route, but also very rewarding with its panoramic views of the Canyon. Taking a dip in the Colorado River towards the end of the trail was very refreshing. I would do it again in a heartbeat.

hiking
10 months ago

Took South Kaibab down to Phantom Ranch and Bright Angel up. Turns out that day July 16 was hottest day of the year 46°C at Phantom with 50°-60° in the sun. Great hike and fabulous view but the heat was exhausting.

hiking
10 months ago

Took S Kaibab to Bright Angel, was definitely a good combination of trails for the round trip. Kaibab trail gets very steep and difficult at the end. Took about 3.5 hours down, 5 hours up.

hiking
blowdown
bridge out
Thu May 16 2019

hiking
Fri May 10 2019

Adding in the Rim Trail (aka... the 5 mile pre hike) gave a lot of educational information before going down into the canyon. That section is paved, easy for all ages and abilities. I did it in 90 minutes... could have spent longer if I wanted to read more. Going down the Kaibab is where the real hiking began. The first mile was loads of people and mule poop. Once past Ooh Ah Point, the amateur tourists started to thin out. Due to rain all around, I did not linger and kept moving (somehow I stayed dry though). It took me about 4 hours to reach Phantom Ranch. It was so nice to have a steak dinner, hot shower, and a comfortable bed that night. The next morning, breakfast and I was off on the Bright Angel trail up. The first half of the hike was so easy to Indian Gardens oasis I thought I was super hiker man. Then... the last 4 miles and 4,000' were zig zagging straight up. Given the blisters on my feet, it took me an extra 2 hours (8 total, plan was 6) to get back to the car at the top. Yes there are marathon runners doing the 44 mile rim to rim and back in one day kind of people out there. I was proud of myself to do 24 miles over two days and survive. If time and money allow, spend an extra night at the Ranch instead of just one night. I had 23.4 miles round trip on my GPS.

hiking
Tue Apr 30 2019

Harder than it looks on the way up in April. It is HOT and there is no water refill. This is why is recommended to go up Bright Angel.

Mon Apr 29 2019

better to make a loop by hiking out bright angel

hiking
Sat Mar 23 2019

This was a wonderful hike. I started out at 6 in the morning and hiked down to phantom ranch and back up in one day. Although there were signs that suggested not to hike that in 1 day, I did it anyways. It was definitely tougher hiking back up, in my opinion. It took me roughly 8 hours to complete this hike in one day. Personally, if you are not planning to get down and hike back up the bright angel trail or another trail or camp down there, I wouldn't necessarily recommend going down to phantom ranch and back up. I think a good turning point would have been just getting to the part in the trail where you get a glimpse of the river. This was definitely worth the sweat. The views were absolutely amazing. There were definitely parts of the trail that were muddy but nothing my running shoes couldn't handle (wish I would've had a pair of hiking shoe). There were not many people when I started out around 6 am but it definitely got crowded on my way back up. I think most people were satisfied just hiking down to ooh aah point and back up.

hiking
Tue Mar 19 2019

Beautiful hike, it's great to reach the colorado river. I'd suggest going back up through bright angel to change things up.

hiking
muddy
no shade
Sun Mar 10 2019

Went down this trail to stay at Phantom Ranch one night and then came back up the Bright Angel trail. Somehow it took us longer to go down this trail than coming up the Bright Angel which is about 3 miles longer. It was really muddy and we kept running into people so maybe that’s why? It is hard on your knees going down so definitely use trekking poles. Not much shade and no water stops so use caution. Also wear a hat and sunscreen when coming up. We saw some miserable-looking sunburned teenagers ascending.

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