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The Grand Canyon: Kaibab to Bright Angel Trail

HARD 44 reviews
#16 of 98 trails in

The Grand Canyon: Kaibab to Bright Angel Trail is a 17.5 mile lightly 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 March until November.

17.5 miles
5,282 feet
Point to Point





nature trips

trail running




wild flowers


no dogs

Experience the Grand Canyon like few others with this unforgettable 2-3 day trip down into the canyon. If you are looking for the perfect hike in the Grand Canyon, this is it. The 2 (or 3) day hike will take you down into the canyon to where few visitors have the privilege of going. Although the Bright Angel trail is not as steep and has more shade cover and water, the views from the South Kaibab trail are unbeatable. It is best to start from the South Kaibab, hike down to the Bright Angel campground, and back up the Bright Angel trail. This way you get a change of scenery and can hike up where there is more available water. If you have a few more days to spare, you can spend another night at the Bright Angel campground (there are some good day hikes from there), or spend a night at Indian Garden on the way back up to the Rim. However long you stay, it will be an experience to remember for a long time, as there is no better way to see the Grand Canyon that by staring up at it from the river below.

7 days ago

I'm 42 and in decent shape. I could stand to work out a bit more than I do but I was able to do this trip. My biggest fear was that my knees would be blown by the constant downhill. I've hiked Glacier Natl park and blown my knees at age 23. Bring poles. They saved me and made this an awesome trip.
I got to hike this with my brother in law 7 years younger, and some of his long time friends. It was a great trip.
Take your time. It's your hike.
We did this in the winter. Spent the night on the rim in the snow then hiked down the next day. Stayed a night then hiked out the following day.
We took bright Angel down then up South Kaibab. This was actually opposite of what I thought we would do. But really it doesn't matter. Each way was beautiful. I think bright angel is a must because of Indian Garden. It might need to change its name but that will come with time. Anyways, it's beautiful. I got to. Real away for a. It and have my own hike. At a time I felt like I was in lord of the rings (not really) because the terrain was crazy and the trail hung on to the side of the mountain.
Going down. Right angel in Late November we hiked down about 800 feet of switchback that was snow covered. Yak tracks were needed.
Our came backs were full at 3ltr. It was cold but we were prepared. We continued down and stopped at a couple covered breaks. I didn't use the bathrooms but they were there. Indian Garden is a great place. Reminded me of Waimea Valley in Oahu. A secluded place for life and culture. I will have to research more on this spot and the native Americans who inhabited this place.
After Indian Garden the trail left the stream for a bit to take us along steep cliffs before bringing us back to the stream as we followed it to the river.
Once we hit the river I was expecting to see a bridge, but that would follow after a couple more miles along the river. Along the river we saw the immense size of the canyon. Parts of this trail were soft sand till you hit the bridge.
Going over the bridge I felt confident. It swayed so slightly but there was no breeze.
We stayed at Bright Angel camp and it's right by a running stream which will lull you to sleep. I still wore ear plugs for other snorting hikers and took a sleeping aid as I have trouble sleeping. Before heading to bed, though, we stopped off at the local pub in Phantom Ranch. Yes, I had a beer in the canyon. I also flushed a toilet and took advantage of a pipe with drinking water.
I am amazed at how awesome the trail was built. They had to blast and build so much to make this trail.
The next day we hiked up past phantom ranch and got to a bench made out of stone. There I got to slowly take in the view. Awesome.
It rained on us again that night. It we got luck that we could pack up our tents dry in the morning.
We hiked up South Kaibab soon followed by Mules. I could only imagine that the postcard I wrote and sent from Phantom Ranch might get to the rim before I would. I was determined and the many breaks they took on the way up made me come out ahead.
South Kaibab was full of amazing views, scary drop offs, sooooo many switch backs and steps up. Then a crow started following us up. It was nice to get a companion for a bit of the trip even if he was eyeing our snacks.
I was surprised to have gone through my 3 liters of water downhill and almost 2.5 liters uphill.
I snacked and took care of how I landed on my feet and knees.
Take your time. Wear nice shoes/boots. Not too small. I've heard of people loosing toenails.
It was a great trip and too short. Bring a GoPro or similar. Leave the big camera for night shots in the car for rim night photography.
Bring poles. Bring yak tracks for snow in November.
Have a great trip.

1 month ago

I did this trail in reverse (Bright Angel to Kaibab). It took about 7 hours. I brought three liters of water and ran out with three miles to go. Not good! I'd bring four next time. You can probably get away with three going the opposite direction because there is a fill up station at the Indian Garden campground before the last uphill push to Bright Angel trailhead. The weather is beautiful in mid-October. The scenery is the most consistently spectacular of any hike I've done. Enjoy!

2 months ago

Wife and I hiked South Kaibab down to the river, then back up via Bright Angel on Sat, 10/6. We definitely enjoyed the hike and lucked out having an overcast day and a little rain drizzle on the final 4 miles up Bright Angel. Here were our stats in case you are trying to do some planning for your own trip.

South Kaibab to Cedar Ridge - 42 min (we were stuck behind mules at the start of the hike and stopped to take off clothing layers)
Cedar Ridge to Skeleton Point - 30 min
Skeleton Point to Tip Off - 32 min
Tip Off to Silver Bridge - 1hr 3min
Silver Bridge to Indian Garden - 1hr 47min
Indian Garden to 3 Mile House - 39 min
3 Mile House to 1.5 Mile Rest House - 38 min
1.5 Mile Rest House to Bright Angel Trailhead - 40 min

Strava Stats
16.5mi - Distance
6:13:33 - Moving Time
7:17 - Elapsed Time
4,791ft - Elevation Gain
22:32/mi - Average Pace

2 months ago

I have hiked the canyon 5 times in 5 years. I’ve done this hike twice this year, one on May 18th, the other on Sep 29th. The weather was similar both times 80 day & 45 night. The second time we had a little less daylight to work with so carry a head light. It took a little longer the second time because waterlines were broken at the bottom and had to walk into Phantom Ranch to use restrooms and get water. One could carry a filter and water up in the streams but I wouldn’t recommend the Colorado River.
There is something about hiking this Canyon that is addicting. Being at the bottom and working your way up is taxing but the shear majesty of this work of art is beyond breathtaking. The challenge of the climb is also something to brag about.
I’m 67 & had a total knee replacement at 61, I will hike this trail until my body won’t let me.

3 months ago

amazing trail! definitely difficult on the last 3 miles going up to bright angel trail. went in aug 11th, temp was about 105 deg. take at least 4 liters of water per person. I took 2 and still wasn't enough. barely made it to the next water point on the Colorado river. make sure you bring electrolytes in any form. the heat and sweat will drain you! salty snacks are a must and maybe some extra socks if you wanna take a dip in a tiny body of water. will be a while till I do this one again.

4 months ago

The views are incredible. If going from South Kaibab to Bright Angel the last 3 miles up to the top of the rim can be pretty brutal. Fortunately there are plenty of places to rest. My girlfriend and I did the hike in 2 days and stayed at the night at Bright Angel campground. We parked at the backcountry visitor center and shuttled to the South Kaibab trailhead, and then back to the backcountry center when we re-emerged at Bright Angel. The weather was really quite different at the rim compared to the base. It was snowing at the rim, but at the base we were in shorts and t-shirts. So be aware of what layers you might need to bring depending on the time of year you go.

5 months ago

Amazing views. We completed this train on 6/22. It took us about 3.5 hours to get down and 5.75 hours to get up with 25ish lbs of gear. The hike back up was pretty rough but the views were absolutely stunning.

8 months ago

Easy to follow trail with plenty of toilet stops and water stations. Add a little jogging to your hike and you’ll be done in 7 hours. Only needed extra layers for about 30 mins since the descent is rapid. Electrolytes are a must: salt pills or the ultima pouches will keep your body happy. Protect yourself from the sun, stay hydrated, and take lots of photos :) it’s a beautiful park to enjoy

10 months ago

INCREDIBLE! Be sweet to yourself and get there a little early to have a cup of coffee as the sun’s coming up. Got to the trailhead at 8 and it was absolutely freezing. The trail heats up quickly on the descent and I had to peel off a bunch of my layers and stuff them into my pack. The trail down in those first few hours offers the best, most dramatic views of the entire hike in my opinion. The wind was pretty strong near the top and the tail gets pretty narrow with steep drop offs at some spots, so it can be a little freaky but steel yourself- you can handle it

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

One of the best hike we did in Grand Canyon. We did it in one day but it was november so probably much easier. The trail is EXTREMLY well marked. And although there is significant elevation change, the slope are very mild. You have to remember that mules are doing this trail. It's by far the easiest trail we did that goes down to Colorado River. I think it took use about 10 hours including the detour to plateau point.
I suggest going down via South Kaibab and up via bright angel. We parked our car in the village and took the bus to the trailhead.
Anyhow, the views are great and varied. Going down the canyon is awesome and crossing those bridge. Also there is a great feeling of accomplishment of doing this hike.

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Hike results of the S. Kiabab trail down and Bright Angel up, 16.5miles, 43,000steps, 33min per mile pace, 8hours 53minutes, elevation gain 4700ft, 4000calories burned 3Nov17 completed by Jeremy Scott Brinkerhoff Merissa Wells Brinkerhoff, Charlie Clark Suzanne Clark, Chad Dixson, Guillaume Gauvain Delphine Gauvain, Ryan Ingram Sarah Ingram, Melissa Owens and C Jason Owens.

Sunday, November 05, 2017

This hike is difficult for sure but oh so worth it! We started our hike in the dark and ended in the dark. Sticks & headlamps are a must plus plenty of food and water. When planning for this hike, plan on carrying a 15# pack. We hiked this in late September and the weather was perfect!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Did this with two friends in June of 2016 as a fairly beginner hiker, rim to river and back in a day. We did it in 10.5 hours, starting around 5:30am and finishing at 4pm. Heat index was 120-deg. F at the river that day. Packed plenty of snacks and food, as well as water/electrolyte tablets. Had our Camelbaks for water as well as additional bottles. I will say I was lagging behind my friends that day and probably could have been in better shape for this hike. Also recommend covered arms and maybe even legs in the summer months, as I was getting pretty tired with the heat. Almost thought I wouldn’t finish, but again, I was really a beginner hiker. Definitely doable in a day, even as an inexperienced hiker, with the right gear, meticulous preparation, and some level of fitness.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

We did this hike mid-October. Down South Kaibab and up Bright Angel is recommended; former is shorter but steeper. Neither trail is too technical, and both are very well maintained. Took us 8 hours all in; we are 52 and pretty fit. MUSTS: Start early, wear hats and good shoes/socks, take lots of water and hi-energy snacks, and use poles if you have them. It was truly the most amazing hike we've ever done. Hubby got 42000 steps on his FitBit!!!

Friday, October 13, 2017

Hiking in Grand Canyon:
Growing up in India, my brother and I had done trekking to Himalayan glaciers during high school years. After coming to USA I always wanted to go hiking with my brother to some memorable spot. But the opportunity never arose until my brother turned 40 this year and wanted to do something special on his birthday. We decided to hike down the South Rim of Grand Canyon in the National Park area. But since we didn’t make our plans well in advance, finding lodging at the bottom of the canyon at Phantom Ranch was out of question. My brother suggested we hike down and up in a single day. Initially I wasn’t too excited about the idea as I felt we wouldn’t be able to pull it off. I must confess that I am not in the best shape and apart from some weekend tennis I haven’t exercised regularly. Also, the weather in the month of April is not predictable. But I went along with the idea, thinking that we can always turn back midway. We settled on going down by South Kaibab trail and coming up the relatively gentler but longer Bright Angel trail. As I warmed up to the idea sufficiently, we reserved our room at Yavapai Lodge in Grand Canyon Village and bought our airline tickets flying in on Friday and out on Sunday.
I had planned to go on a diet and do regular exercise in preparation for the hike but never got around doing it. The fateful weekend arrived too soon. I flew from Philadelphia to Phoenix and my brother joined me there around 5 PM. We picked our rental car and started driving towards Grand Canyon. On the way we stopped in Flagstaff for dinner and bought some supplies for the hike. As we resumed on our journey it started to snow! It was past 11 PM by the time we reached Grand Canyon Village and there was an inch of snow on the ground. We headed to our lodge to get our room keys, not knowing what tomorrow had in store for us. As we checked-in the ranger at the front desk casually asked us what our plans were during our stay. We boastfully proclaimed our intentions to hike down the canyon. When he learned that we did not have reservation at Phantom Ranch at the bottom of Grand Canyon he admonished us not to attempt the hike all the way down. Instead he advised us to hike up to certain points on South Kaibab trail and do a reality-check about whether to proceed further or to turn back. We listened to him intently and were starting to have serious doubts about our plan. That night we slept nervously and just as we were beginning to catch some deep sleep it was daybreak.
We dressed in multiple layers of clothes and cautiously headed out. It was sunny outside but the roads were slippery. After a change of shuttle buses we reached the trailhead at Yaki Point little past 7 AM and were immediately struck by the beautiful scenery. It seemed surreal to be there with the vast canyon before our eyes. There was some light dusting of snow at the top of the canyon but down below it looked clear. We headed down the canyon capturing the amazing vistas with our cameras. We passed Ooh Aah Point, the first of the three turnaround points the ranger had told us about, and continued towards Cedar Ridge a little later where we stopped for refreshments before resuming on our hike. In a couple of hours we reached Skeleton Point, the last turnaround point. But we hadn’t even seen Colorado River up to that point and decided to proceed further. After a short hike down we caught our first glimpse of the river. It appeared so far below that we could barely see it. Since our hike had been relatively painless thus far, we decided to hike all the way down. We went through some amazing desert terrain and passed a mule train. After some time we could see one of the bridges over the river but our legs were shaking by this point. Traversing some steep switchbacks we finally reached Colorado River and crossed it at Silver Bridge. We munched on our power bars by the river bank, congratulating ourselves on making it this far without too much sweat. We took in the view and it seemed like we were in a mini canyon as the top of Grand Canyon was not even visible. We had no idea what we were in store for on our way back.
After a brief halt we started back up. The Bright Angel trail rose gently along the river. We reached a small waterfall on Pipe Creek and the water felt refreshing on our faces. But as we looked up we could see sheer cliffs and the enormity of the hike ahead started to sink in. Each step forward was getting laborious. Realizing that we didn’t need that many layers of clothing we peeled them off one by one. It made a big difference as we continued on, aiming to reach the half way point called Indian Garden before taking any more rest breaks. I was beginning to fall behind so we decided to go at our own pace. I managed to reach Indian Garden 15 minutes behind my brother and immediately lied down. I was beginning to have serious misgivings about the hike and had a few choice words to say to my brother (which I later rec

Saturday, September 02, 2017

Nothing else like looking at the sunrise on the canyon. Beautiful with clouds being lit up and the sun casting shadows on the eroded rock sides. All stops are gorgeous at most any time of the day. The bright angel trail is really windy in the spring time. Sunrise is an experience you can't forget.

Saturday, September 02, 2017

a couple of times...
only downfall is dodging the mules and what they leave behind.

Monday, August 21, 2017

We hiked this trail in March 2015. All 8 of us(3 ladies and 5 men)finished the whole trip within 10 hours. It is one of the best trails we hiked. Highly recommended for experienced hikers.

Monday, March 06, 2017

I did this hike with my wife back in 09. My first time doing it and her second. This is the best way to do this. Down the South Kaibab and up Bright Angel. We camped out one night at BA and then hiked half way out to Indian Garden and camped our second night there. Hiked out on the 3rd day. It's a long slog down the S Kaibab and you're feeling it when you get to the bottom. The views along this trail are the best for sure. Be prepared. The best months are April and October. Most don't realize how hot it is at the bottom when the rim feels quite nice. In the dead of summer, the bottom is equal to Phoenix in temps!!

Saturday, January 21, 2017

We did this hike in one day during one of the biggest storms of the year. Because the shuttle didn't show, we added an extra two miles by hiking the Rim Trail first, which was covered in about one and a half feet of snow, to get to South Kaibab. We followed this all the way to the River Trail and then retuned up via the Bright Angel trail. After passing Bright Angel Camp, we were getting lots of rain and when it turned to snow, we had to push up the last two and a half miles in heavy snow (and it was dark). It was absolutely a once in a lifetime experience, but I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who isn't fairly fit or used to endurance sports. Overall, it was about 21 miles and it took 11 and a half hours at an average pace of 32 minutes per mile. 5843 gain in elevation!!!

Sunday, December 11, 2016

A group of us did this trail in one day, started at 7AM and finished about 5PM. The views are breathtaking all the way through the trail. This trail is a must do if you are at the grand canyon. P.S only attempt this in 1 day if you have good endurance.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

A group of friends and I completed this hike in one day. It was absolutely breathtaking! Going down to the Colorado river and seeing the suspension bridges was so worth it. Indian garden was a great place to rest in the shade by the creek and have lunch before finishing the hike.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Only did half of the trail with my pregnant wife, but it was incredible the entire time. We woke up before sunrise and rode our bikes to the trailhead. Sunrise over the canyon is something out of this world.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

First a little demographical info about me; 6'1, 252 lbs, 44 years of age. used to live in the hills of Pennsylvania and just started hiking again; this was the first real trail I hiked (the trail to see the Delicate Arch up close in Arches N.P. I don't count) in years.
The one thing I have to say for all those regardless of age and size is to respect the trail you are on. I know experienced hikers who do this already know that. Although I am sure many people have done this trail, one really needs to rely on their own wits and know their limits. There is no shame in taking rests or trying to find that little bit of shade under a rock on this trail. But the fact that you are literally miles from any help will show what kind of constitution you have. It was cool and awe-inspiring at the same time that there is literally no one around you. The landscape can be unforgiving. Rocks in the lower part of the canyon does radiate out heat, Sun temps at BAC at 5:00 PM was around 129 F. In my experience during the 5th and 6th of July on this trip, I found that on both trails that the 1.5 mile point from the rim on both trails had the most constancy of seeing a person. After that, it was less than 50. For instance from Cedar Ridge to Skeleton Point, we crossed paths with two NPS Rangers, and 4 other hikers (two of which were unprepared and struggling but with the help of Rangers, made it out ok from our inquiry about them.) Three mule trains also passed us between these two points, with about 12 total tourist riders (won't count those though, lol). From Skeleton Pt. to the Tip Off where there is a single shack we encountered four people, one of whom was traversing the Tonto Trail to Bright Angel Trail. After that, no one until we arrived at the BAC. The desolation one could imagine was there. On the way out the next morning (it truly is a good idea to leave at 4:30 AM) there may have been 16 people going up we encountered for the portion of BAC to Indian Garden. Only a couple we passed with camping gear passed us going down. More activity was around near the Indian Garden and my group actually did well I felt, it took us about 5 hours from these two campgrounds. But then the sun finally filled the canyon. I can say the last three miles was the most exertion I ever put in myself. It is a portion that is to be respected if you have 17-20 lbs of gear on. Shade and water is your best friend and take advantage of it. Tourists appear to not understand this as they had tank tops on and a 8 oz. bottle of store water that was about empty at the 3 mile rest house, I had a 100 oz. camelback and a 32 oz. canteen. Some spoke to us stating they were going to walk down some more (this at 11 AM), but they soon passed up going up saying it was too much and were heading back. Everyone that passed me going down were in good spirits but coming back up most had a look of wear and minor concern of the heat. It was not what they expected. I did in most respects respected the trail but I slightly underestimated the last three miles and slightly overestimated my ability to "easily" do it with no aches and pains. I did complete it and suffered no heat exhaustion or other health problems. I had a small blister on the side of my foot, and sore muscles on my thighs and calves that lasted about a day and a half but did not inhibit my ability to walk, I just wanted cold water and AC (ha ha). My thing that helped me in this last three miles was I walked two to three switchbacks and rested, there was no shame in this. I was literally a switchback and 100 yards from the Three Mile rest house but I found shade and stopped, I still had water, so I did not hurry. I got ribbed a little by may good friend who is older than me and has hiking experience but I did not let that hurt my pride. My well-being was more important.
This trip I can see would make most people new to hiking want to end hiking as a hobby/interest. I did not think about hiking in Phoenix's North or South Mtn. Preserves in the latter days (had no desire to) but it has instilled in me the desire to learn more about effective hiking and to see more where others don't. This was a truly 5 star hike, regardless of the heat, a little blister, and day and a half muscle soreness. I would recommend this trail to those that want to do it. You won't regret it. The most experienced can do it in June, July, August, December, January and February,

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

An awesome hike if you're adequately prepared. Here's how to do it in one day safely.

1. Start early. You should set out down the Kaibab no later than 3:30am.
2. Bring a lot of food & water. You burn a LOT of calories & sweat a lot of water. Come prepared.
3. Train properly. Do not do this in one day without being in good shape. Period.
4. Refill water at every place possible. At the bottom and the 3 stations on the way up.
5. The hardest part (in my opinion) is the first 2-3 miles of the ascent along the Colorado river in the sand. Take it slow, drink plenty, rest in shade as you find it.

That's about it. Seeing the sun rise as you descend into the canyon is something I'll never forget and everyone should experience. Just be careful to not waste too much time hiking down to the river or else it'll be pretty scorching on the way up. We took our time and it was over 100 when we started our ascent. Be careful, but have fun. And be sure to take a picture with the sign encouraging you not to hike rim to river to rim in one day!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

This trail may be my favorite trail I have ever hiked. You must leave very early to avoid the afternoon heat but it absolutely worth it. When we hiked down into the canyon the walls were bright orange and red from the morning sunlight. There is no better way to see the canyon than from within it.

We were a bit underprepared at the bottom (the ranger told us not to bring a sleeping bag or tent because it stays 80 degrees. It rained that night and we were mad), but it was nice to be able to sit in the small stream near Bright Angel campground just relaxing and cooling off.

The entire trip wasn't more than about 7 hours of total hiking time (we were moving pretty quickly), but I wouldn't recommend it in a day, because we got very hot while hiking around 8am, I couldn't imagine hiking around noon. Be careful and pack PLENTY of water.

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