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South Kaibab Trail Day Hike

Grand Canyon National Park

Colorado River Grand Canyon, Arizona

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South Kaibab Trail Day Hike

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  • The switchbacks to initially drop below the rim can be a bit daunting.- South Kaibab Trail Day Hike
  • Weather can change rapidly, especially during the summer monsoon season.- South Kaibab Trail Day Hike
  • Staring down the trail as a storm looms overhead. Don't hesitate to turn back or take shelter if the weather is bad.- South Kaibab Trail Day Hike
  • Take time to enjoy the views, but don't get distracted and loose your footing!- South Kaibab Trail Day Hike
  • Ooh Aah Point makes a good turn-around spot for South Kaibab lite verison. The going gets tougher from here.- South Kaibab Trail Day Hike
  • Trekking poles can help a lot on this steep trail.- South Kaibab Trail Day Hike
  • A raven enjoying the view from Cedar Ridge.- South Kaibab Trail Day Hike
  • South Kaibab vista.- South Kaibab Trail Day Hike
  • Returning uphill on some of South Kaibab's many giant steps.- South Kaibab Trail Day Hike
  • Racing the sun back to the rim.- South Kaibab Trail Day Hike
  • Sunset on South Kaibab Trail. Be sure to bring a headlamp if you might get caught in the dark.- South Kaibab Trail Day Hike
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Best South Rim views of the canyon. Quickest route to the bottom.
Cons: 
Little shade. No water. Very steep.
Region:
Colorado River Grand Canyon, AZ
Congestion: 
High
Preferable Season(s):
Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
Day-Use/Parking Pass Required:
National Park Pass
Total Distance: 
7.00 mi (11.27 km)
Trailhead Elev.: 
7,260 ft (2,213 m)
Net Elev. Gain: 
-4,800 ft (-1,463 m)
Trail Uses:
Hiking
Trail type: 
There-and-back
Dogs allowed: 
No
Current Local Weather:
Powered by Dark Sky

Today

Clear throughout the day.
57°F
27°

Sun

Clear throughout the day.
57°F
34°

Mon

Clear throughout the day.
61°F
38°

Tue

Mostly cloudy until evening.
65°F
42°

Wed

Drizzle starting in the evening.
66°F
43°

Thu

Light rain throughout the day.
56°F
45°

Fri

Mostly cloudy until evening.
63°F
46°
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Sponsored Contributor

South Kaibab is one of the two main trails on the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park, and other is Bright Angel. These are both extremely popular for day and overnight hikes because they are maintained for high traffic, make a fairly direct route to the bottom of the canyon, and deal incredible views the whole way.

A round-trip hike all the way to the Colorado River in the bottom is generally considered a two-day endeavor, but going a shorter distance down and back makes a great day hike.

South Kaibab is the best option for those who want maximum views in a relatively quick time. This trail follows a ridgeline that juts out into the main canyon. The scenery is grand from the very start, but you get a truly huge perspective after a mile at the aptly named Ooh Aah Point.

Ooh Aah makes a good turn-around point, because you'll want to leave plenty of time and energy for the switchbacks to regain the rim. Howeever, a bit further down is another worthwhile destination at Cedar Mesa. There is a toilet here and plenty of flat space to spread out and relax. Most day hikers will choose to head back up from here, but the more intrepid may opt to extend further into the canyon at Skeleton Point (6-mile round trip), which is the maximum recommended distance for a day hike.

Before setting out for any distance on South Kaibab Trail, there are some important things to know. The first is that there is no water available anywhere except at the trailhead, and there is little shade to speak of. This is South Kaibab's major drawback when compared to the slightly milder Bright Angel Trail. The second is that the trip downhill is deceptive. The trail will always seem steeper on the way back up, and you should allow twice as much time for the uphill half as it took to get down. Also, weather on the rim is often breezy and cool, even during summer, but temperatures rise quickly as you descend.

To prepare, bring plenty of your own water, about one liter for every mile you plan to hike during the summer. Also, bring salty snacks, because staying fueled with calories and electrolytes is just as important as keeping hydrated. Wear sun protection, sturdy and comfortable hiking shoes, and layers of clothing if the weather may change.

Weather is another major consideration. The trail is open year round, but conditions vary considerably by the season and sometimes by the day. Summer is the most popular time, but it also has the hottest temperatures and greatest risk of afternoon thunderstorms. Spring and fall are the best, when temperatures are cooler and the weather is generally more stable. Winter days are usually sunny but cold, with ice and snow covering the first mile of the trail. Be sure to check weather forecasts before you begin and pack accordingly.

For more information on how to prepare, see How to Hike the Grand Canyon: Tips for Beginners and Experts

Mileages:

​Ooh Aah Point: 1.8 miles round trip
Cedar Ridge: 3 miles round trip
Skeleton Point: 6 miles round trip

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(7 within a 30 mile radius)

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