Hikers seeking panoramic views unparalleled on any other trail at Grand Canyon will want to consider a hike down the South Kaibab Trail. It is the only trail at Grand Canyon National Park that so dramatically holds true to a ridgeline descent. But this exhilarating sense of exposure to the vastness of the canyon comes at a cost: there is little shade and no water for the length of this trail. During winter months, the constant sun exposure is likely to keep most of the trail relatively free of ice and snow. For those who insist on hiking during summer months, which is not recommended in general, this trail is the quickest way to the bottom (it has been described as "a trail in a hurry to get to the river"), but due to lack of any water sources, ascending the trail can be a dangerous proposition.
The South Kaibab Trail is a modern route, having been constructed as a means by which park visitors could bypass Ralph Cameron's Bright Angel Trail. Cameron, who owned the Bright Angel Trail and charged a toll to those using it, fought dozens of legal battles over several decades to maintain his personal business rights. These legal battles inspired the Santa Fe Railroad to build its own alternative trail, the Hermit Trail, beginning in 1911 before the National Park Service went on to build the South Kaibab Trail beginning in 1924. In this way, Cameron inadvertently contributed much to the greater network of trails currently available for use by canyon visitors.
Width: 48 inches.
Primary Surface: Soil
Secondary Surface: None
Elevation Low Point: Not Available
Elevation High Point: Not Available
Elevation Gain (cumulative): Not Available
Year Designated: 1981
Supporting Webpages and DocumentsWebsite: National Park Service - trail details
For more information and current conditions, contact the trail manager (listed below). For questions, suggestions, and corrections to information listed on the website, contact American Trails.
Grand Canyon National Park
P.O. Box 129
Grand Canyon, AZ 86023
(520) 638-9734 ext. 2
Second time on this amazing trail. Last time I only had time to reach Cedar Ridge a few miles in, but this time with another squad we made it ask the way down to the river. Went late November so the sun was short so we had to hurry quite a bit. Took us 4,5h down to the river including many stops for photos and enjoying the neature. After a short lunch break we realized we only had 3 hours until sunset which seemed like a bust. Although after a HARD push up without barely any stops we made it with 15 minutes to spare 💪. Not super experienced hikers but young guys with great motivation
Overall really cool trail. Late November was very cold in the beginning but got better throughout, both as midday was warmer but also because of the hiking tempo. Sky was cloudy almost all the way through unfortunately.
Can highly recommend to park just west of the trailhead - there are some amazing free spots just by the edge of the canyon. Close to Pipe Creek Vista. Get there early!
Would recommend more days, would be cool to check out phantom ranch, and even north rim. Also discussed taking Bright Angel back but that was ruled out due to the time constraints. Would love to come back for that one, heard good things!
December 21, 2021
Beautiful view of the Canyon
When reading about the canyon before visiting, I came a cross a quote that read; "You haven't fully experienced the canyon until you have walked into it", which is a really good quote. When you first see its massiveness you are obviously very impressed, but walking down into it has a way greater effect on you. The South Kaibab Trail is quite steep and might not be for the mass, but if you think you can make it I'd say go for it. Sadly we were in somewhat of a hurry so we only got part-way through the trail, but it was stunning all the way
November 25, 2019
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