For a limited time only, save 30% on a year of AllTrails Pro!
Get Started
Help keep our trails and parks open during COVID-19 by committing to social distancing. Some trails or park services may be closed this weekend so check with local authorities before heading out.
Learn more

South to North Kaibab Trail is a 19.3 mile moderately trafficked point-to-point trail located near Grand Canyon, Arizona that features a river and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from May until October.

Length 19.3 mi Elevation gain 6,453 ft Route type Point to Point

Backpacking

Camping

Hiking

Nature trips

Bird watching

Running

River

Views

Wild flowers

Wildlife

Rocky

No shade

No dogs

Description
Waypoints (0)
Facilities
Contact
Getting There

Fantastic hike for the seasoned outdoorsman/woman. Bucket list material. Point to point, or round trip for the more adventurous. Point to point requires a shuttle trip back to the opposing rim, provided by a number of shuttle services. Can be successfully hiked north-to-south or south-to-north. North to south is preferred, as the North Rim is approximately 8200 feet above sea level, making for a more difficult ascent when coming from the South Rim (7200 feet above sea level). North rim is also closed during colder months, as the lodge and facilities are shut down. Rim-to-rim hiking season is from mid-May to mid-October.

Plenty of parking facilities available on both rims.

Either rim is easily accessible by road. Main tourist spot/visitor center located on the South Rim.

Weather
UV Index
Daylight
Reviews (64)
Photos (4760)
Recordings (36)
Completed (236)
Joan Barber
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJune 9, 2020
Hiking

We just went down to the Ooh Ahh vista and it definitely lived up to its name.

View Joan's Recording
Yan Huang
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarDecember 8, 2019
Hiking

Completed this bucket list hike in two days Nov 18th and 19th. Nov 18th from South Kaibab to Phantom Ranch, It was sunny and pleasant weather, temperature at high 64F on South rim, hiked all the way down to Colorado river and Phantom Ranch, temperature reached 81F at bottom of the Canyon. Rest the night at Phantom Ranch. Second day attempted to head to north in the early morning at 5am, it was too dark, returned back to Ranch. Re-started before dawn. No one else on the trail, about two and half hours later before Cottonwood, met first group people coming from north. At Manzanita rest area, saw one ( the only one) hiker coming my way and passing me. Later on met him on the trail, he was going back to Cottonwood to stay the night. It started to rain after 1:30pm and temperature dropped sharply in the north canyon. The last 2 miles ( about Supai tunnel ) to trailhead was the most difficult part of this hike, rain, cold, tired, tough high incline. Fortunate, I made to the top at 3:30pm and the shuttle bus along with 3 hikers from Cottonwood camp ground had been there waiting for me for hours. One of the Epic, solo hike, the memory and experience was priceless.

Mark Nekic
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 29, 2019
Hiking

Epic hike. A must do for any serious hiker. Fantastic vistas all the way down and back up. The first glimpse of the Colorado river was awesome. I encountered quite a few folks on the way down South Kaibab; very few in "the box" between Phantom Ranch and Cottonwood Campground; and maybe 2 dozen coming down from the North rim on the final third, including someone who was in distress about 2 hours below the North Rim. There was a group of folks attending to her, and when I got to the top, a ranger was heading down to assist. (Just a reminder that climbing up out of the Grand Canyon isn't to be taken lightly.) The North Kaibab trail between Cottonwood and the rim was the highlight IMO. The climb up was not bad and it was a much more interesting and meandering route than the steep, switchback-filled South Kaibab. It was about 25 degrees and very windy on both rims. Mid 60's and sunny at the bottom. Left at sunrise (6:40am) and finished at sunset (5:20pm) so that worked out great!

Tevin Eddy
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 13, 2019
Hiking

Awesome trail! First time and I got it done in under 11 hours. 2+ months of training came in handy. Epic journey for sure!

View Tevin's Recording
Kay Em
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 12, 2019
Hiking

Because reservations fill up fast, we ended up doing the return R2R on the Saturday of the long weekend. We took the 6 a.m. hiker's shuttle and it was packed! The driver was very cheerful and managed to shove everyone in. We started the trail around 6:25, in full daylight, which is definitely how this trail should be done. It is beautiful beyond belief, with full on GC views since it's on a ridge. We're fairly steady hikers and passed most people within 30 minutes or so, so it was quiet most of the way down to Phantom Ranch. It took us 2 hours and 45 minutes to the Ranch, with tons of photos taken. On the way to Cottonwood Campground, hundreds and hundreds of people were coming in the opposite direction. We could barely walk 30 seconds without seeing groups of people, of all shapes, sizes and ages, some with smiles, some not. Fortunately the trail is mostly wide enough to pass without stopping. We walked at a good pace, stopping only to take a photo of the mules at the Ranch, a bighorn sheep and her young one, and the gorgeous Ribbon Falls, which we elected to see from the main trail as we had a long day ahead of us. We managed to complete the Box in the shade, and had sun afterwards, but it was much cooler than the previous crossing and wasn't a problem at all. This section took us 2 hours, 15 minutes. After lunch at the Campground we slowed our pace a bit so that we could digest, and also the uphill part was starting. Shortly after the Manzanita Rest Area we were back in the shade, and I had to switch out of my cotton t-shirt, to a synthetic t-shirt as it was starting to get chilly with the cotton. We got to see the views we missed on our 1st crossing, and the crowds thinned down. After about 18 miles I was starting to feel tired, but not dh. He went full tilt ahead after the Supai Tunnel, having a time of 3 hours and a half from the Campground to the top. I walked on at a steady pace, even though I was tired, and showed up 15 minutes after dh. I must say that the copious amounts of mule excrement and urine and the odors associated with them did take away some of the pleasure of the last couple of miles. We both found going North to South to be more difficult, likely due to the heat and it's longer. We both had sore muscles after going North to South. Going South to North was easier for us, it being cooler and shorter, even though there is more elevation gain. And neither of us were the slightest bit sore after our 2nd R2R. Highly recommended! Make sure to be fit.

Jennifer Hussey
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMay 19, 2019
Hiking

The most physically challenging hike I have ever done but so worth it. Amazing views around every next turn. We did South to North and it took just over 13 hours. It was a full moon so that helped at the end. If you’re prepared and know that it’s a lot of rugged terrain, you’ll enjoy it.

David Eriksson
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMay 18, 2019
Hiking

Great bucket list hike! Hiking down to the river from north rim is easy, but hiking up South Kaibab in the afternoon heat is tough. Make sure to start early and drink lots of water.

View David's Recording
Alex Gerlach
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMay 18, 2019
Hiking

Hiked the Rim to Rim (and back, after a rest day), following the South Kaibab to North, then back up Bright Angel. This hike is not for the faint of heart nor the ill-prepared. There are numerous warnings cautioning hikers to "not hike to the river and back" in one day, as it is very demanding. And those warnings are quite serious, this is a difficult (however not at all technical) hike. The views are, however, unbelievable. I suggest anyone who wants to truly appreciate the awe and scale of the Grand Canyon to complete this hike in some way as it will leave you breathless and your heart racing. Early morning start to beat the heat (even in May), lots of trail runners, and lots of smiling faces. Due to the variability in the weather forecast I had luckily accounted for the potential of snow, which made for an adventure as the North Rim lost power. Descent took 2-3 hours and the ascent took 9-10.

Laura Winkleman
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMay 17, 2019
Hiking

Incredible! My husband and I just finished this yesterday. I did have a too close encounter with a rattlesnake that rattled at me before I even saw it! It was fairly windy at the top of south kaibab but never got too hot down in the canyon (which we were anticipating it to be over 100). It started raining just after we finished hiking. It was exhausting mentally and physically but the views that you witness all along the hike were amazing and worth every ounce of energy.

Bri Wettig
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarDecember 7, 2018

I did this hike at the end of August and it was definitely worth the training. The views were so different throughout each part of the hike. I recommend stopping at the campground at the bottom to fill up on water and get some food before you go through “the box” after that. Crossing the bridge over the Colorado river was so awesome!! The hike is definitely long but I would say less than what this hike has it mapped as (probably closer to 23?). This hike is not easy, and definitely long but if you’ve trained for it, it will be one of the best hikes of your life!

Mengchen Sun
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 15, 2018

We were flooded with emotions when we reached the top of North Rim after 10.5 hours of trekking through the most magnificent canyon. A must do for pain seekers!

Armand Jhala
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJune 23, 2018

Did this as a day hike -- about 13 hrs. A long difficult hike but worth every minute. Unbelievable views, and the night sky is incredible. Don't forget to look up!

John Kang
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMarch 14, 2018
Hiking

I took this hike over the Memorial Day Week of 2018. The mileage is way off. I have checked some other sources about the hike. It does not appear to be 33.1 miles long. Most sources say the hike is about 22-24 miles and I think that's about right.

Bill Crain
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 2, 2017
Backpacking

6 years ago with Bright Angel in the mix

Bill Crain
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 29, 2017
Backpacking

Awesome... Hope to go back.

Jackie Hundley
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 16, 2017
Hiking

Day hike. Took Bright Angel down which added two miles but ultimately we were able to start earlier and didn't have to carry more than a liter at a time down since there is so much water.

Shep Pryor
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJune 13, 2017
Running

This was the experience of a lifetime. My college roommate and I ran the canyon on May 30th of this year. We punished ourselves by adding an extra 3 miles at the South Rim by running from Yavapi lodge to the South Kaibab trail head and then screamed down. From Rim to Phantom ranch we hit the Ranch in an hour and a half. From there it's an amazingly beautiful traverse on the canyon floor. Word to the wise, however, when you get to the Cottonwood campground the signage claims 7 miles to the North Rim....which is a shockingly tall lie. Maybe as the crow flies but two separate Garmin Fenix5 trail watches disagreed. It's more like 12. It's an extremely punishing ascent from the Canyon floor but we made it out and across in around 8hours 45 minutes. It stood almost double my longest trail run/hike I've ever attempted so it didn't hurt to have an ultramarathoner as a partner. Put it on your list, train and make it happen. You'll never regret it....but remember.....Cottonwood lies :)

Ravi Sirigineedi
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJune 8, 2017
Hiking
Jessica Rainey
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMay 30, 2017

Can't even explain how amazing this hike was. Absolutely amazing experience and would certainly do it again. Took a lot of training and my backpack was way too heavy but worth it.

Pat Ribotto
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarFebruary 14, 2017
Backpacking

For all the people who have done this hike, I can't believe no one has reviewed this yet. It has to be one of the top 10 classic hikes in this country if you ask me. My wife has done it twice, and this was my first time doing it. She and my son joined me and we headed down the South Kaibab on Halloween of 2015. For anyone who has not hiked down into the canyon, don't think it's easy just cause you're going downhill. It is a long haul to Bright Angel campground, regardless of the miles involved, and your joints and legs and feet are feeling it when you get there. Incredible views down this trail as it follows ridge lines and not canyons. We made it down in 5 hours which is pretty typical for us, as we have been down to the river before. We spent one night camped out in the BA campground. The next a.m. we headed out from there and were destined for Cottonwood campground for the next night. This is now the North Kaibab trail. It is nice and level for the first several miles as it just follows Bright Angel creek. Very shady in here as well. They call this section "the box". Once out of the box, you are back into sunshine and it was pretty warm that day, for that time of year. We got to the cut off to Ribbon Falls and hid our packs along the trail, and walked up to the falls. Very cool spot, worth the side trek to see it. It's only a quarter of a mile or so one way. After the falls, we continued hiking up to Cottonwood. With our little jaunt to Ribbon Falls, the total for the day was just over 8 1/2 miles. The last day was our long climb out. We left early and got going while it was cool. We made the cut off to Roaring Springs Canyon in about an hour and 45 minutes. This is where you bear left and BA creek goes right. Now it was a steady climb thru the red wall and beyond to get to the North Rim. This is quite an impressive stretch of trail here. Some big drop offs along this. Not for the faint of heart. Once above the red wall, you lose a little elevation as the trail drops down to the canyon floor and crosses a bridge to the other side. Then it's steady climbing again until you get back into the trees. The last couple miles are tough as you are pretty beat by now. An awesome hike as one would expect, but it is tough, no way around that. Every time I have hiked down, it has been tough. Going down, and coming back up. This is not for the casual day hiker. But it is worth getting in shape for and doing, as it is rewarding to say that you have seen the canyon that way.

Jenn W.
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJune 11, 2016
Hiking

Here's a tip: If you plan on hiking South Rim to North Rim and back in two days during peak season (summer) without a backcountry permit to camp inside the Canyon, don't bother carrying a backpack to camp at the North Rim campsite. Carry a day pack instead with just enough water to last you between sources and snacks to fuel you for a conservative estimate of 12 hours. Plan to stay overnight at the North Rim Lodge. Keep in mind that you will need to get an early start (no later than 3 am) in order to minimize exposure to the extreme summer heat. When we attempted this hike during the first week of June, afternoon temperatures exceeded 110 degrees at Phantom Ranch. It took us about 3 hours to reach the Colorado River from the South Kaibab Trailhead. Sunrise was around 5:30 am (first light around 4:30 am) and it just starts heating up from there on out. By the time you get past the Box, you're contending with an unforgiving uphill trek in full sun all the way to Roaring Springs and the exposure really starts to get to you around Ribbon Falls/Cottonwood Camp. Beyond that, the trail gets really steep until the finish. Although our group was physically fit, our backpacks really weighed us down and we didn't complete the one-way hike at the pace we projected, thus reaching North Rim too late to get a good night's rest before having to do it all again. In the end, we opted to take a $90 shuttle ride back to South Rim. This is the only transportation option between the two Rims (other than hitchhiking) and it takes 4-5 hours. It is definitely an experience worth writing home about and if you're up for the challenge, I can't recommend it enough. But please do your homework; there are a lot of good resources online which will help you access your fitness and manage your expectations. Good luck!

al steiner
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJune 5, 2016
Hiking

Not for the faint of heart, but not just for the fittest of the fit either. Ali's quote about "the will must be stronger than the will" applies to the completion of this hike in a single day. It is grueling at times. Went the day before Memorial Day and met or was passed by over 225 hikers. Considering this is a 21 mile hike that's a little more than 10 per mile, making this a good hike for solitude. The push up from Cottonwood Campground to the end is where the real exertion occurs. I am 52 in above average (not excellent) shape and I did this hike with my 2 teenage sons in 19 hours. If you are in excellent shape 12 hours or less is very achievable. Just make sure to have we'll broken in hiking shoes and plenty of electrolytes. The views are exceptional along the way, particularly on South Kaibab. Phantom Ranch is very quaint and a stop for lemonade in the canteen is worth it. Definte top 5 hike, and I have hiked a few miles in my time.

Nancy White
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMay 30, 2016
Hiking
First to Review

Spectacular views of the inner gorge. Two suspension bridges over the Colorado River within sight of each other. Phantom Ranch was everything and more.

Guy Aaron Counselman
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJune 9, 2020
Hiking
View Guy Aaron 's Recording
Emily St. Jacques
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarFebruary 19, 2020
Hiking
View Emily's Recording
Francis Malone
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJanuary 30, 2020
Hiking
View Francis's Recording
Natalie Martin
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJanuary 15, 2020
Hiking
Salagator .
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarNovember 28, 2019
Janelle L.
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarNovember 2, 2019
Hiking
View Janelle's Recording
Michael Baker
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarNovember 2, 2019
Hiking
View Michael's Recording
Showing results 1 - 30 of 64