Along the side road to Yaki Point, Grand Canyon, AZ 86023
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Of the two maintained trails in the south rim, this 6.3-mile trail is the less traveled. While it affords extensive views in ... More
South Kaibab Trail
Of the two maintained trails in the south rim, this 6.3-mile trail is the less traveled. While it affords extensive views in both directions, it offers no shade and is considered steep, descending 4,500 feet to the river below. It was built along a ridge line in the 1920s. Although it is considered more strenuous than the other maintained trail, it is also believed to be more scenic.
I hiked this trail in July of 2010. The views were great, and the trail was well kept. I went just past skeleton point which is about 4 miles down. All the guide books said to leave yourself about 2/3rds of your time to come back out of the canyon, but what they didn't say is that you're going to need more than 2/3rds or your energy and water. You can not bring too much water. I brought nearly 2 litres, but probably should have brought 6. I have a massive headache when I got out and that was with it raining slightly and being overcast most of the way out. I did however find that there were some places you could get some shade most parts of the day.
I would do it again, but go to the bottom and camp and come out on Angel. Unless you are quite physically fit I would suggest either going on angel or no further than oooh ahh point or cedar point at the very furthest. Avoid hiking from 10-3.
Start early, we hit it at sunrise and it was past dark when we got back to the hotel, we came back up an easier path and we were moving fast, don't try to hike in and out unless you're in great physical shape and wear comfy shoes and take as much water as you can carry, it was crazy hot and we were all sore for several days. That all said, it was easily the most amazing hike we have ever taken. If we go back we will most likely camp at the bottom and make it a two day hike.
Qe only hiked down this trail, we came up the bright angel trail, which is more prefered on the way back up since there are 3 spots with running water, restrooms, and shade. The only thing I can say about the South Kaibab Trail is that you do not want to be on it during the hottest part of the day. The direct heat is intense and there is almost no shade on the trail. It is not reccomended to hike in and out of the Grand Canyon all in the same day. We stayed overnight at the Phantom Ranch down in the canyon. You'll need to reserve a spot at least a year before hand if you wish to stay there.
Start out On the S. Kaibab as early as you possibly can. We started down at 9:30 am... Way too late! As we headed down, we passed a group of hikers hiking out of the canyon. They said that they started out at 3:30 that morning! We were shocked then, but later wished that we had done the same! I have never felt that hot in my life. I wanted to lay down in the dirt and just die. It was that bad.
But, if you get an early start, take LOTS of water, and beat the heat, you'll be fine. It's a great trail, it just gets rather sunny in the middle of the day and there isn't any shade. Walk fast and you'll be fine, plus, once you reach the bottom, you can take a nice dip in Bright Angel Creek.
We had perfect weather for our midday hike: 68'F and a brisk easterly wind. We only went to Cedar Bluffs, which I recall being about 1/2 way down. Dont stop at Oooh Ah point, go to the Cedar or a little farther. The point sticks out into the middle of the canyon!! Take snacks, food, and water. There is plenty of room for hikers and the mules. The views from this hike are tremendously wonderfull. WOW! Ask for my fotos!! Save energy for the 3 miles back up!!! It is harder than you think.
We packed down South Kaibab on May 12th when the weather was 15-20 degrees above normal - the last mile down was brutalizing in the heat. Temps were at 105, all in my party ran out of water (each drinking 1 gallon and 1 liter of water and electrolytes). Hiking up on Bright Angel was just as brutal in the heat, but at least there are water stops - South Kaibab has none. If you are going to pack in the heat, leave early and try to get duffel service for your heavier items. Or, go earlier in the season. March and April would be ideal to backpack down to the bottom.
I hiked this trail a few years ago. It is a bit easier now because it is better cared for with increased traffic. The views are spectacular and I was filled with awe. We saw a mountian sheep, but didn't get to see a Grand Canyon rattle snake (they are pink) Caution, do not go to the bottom thinking that you will go down and back up in one day. Only the very fit can do it. Better to go down to the first rest plateau and go back up and live than die trying. Altitude! Water is a must and take more than you think you need. Oranges taste great. Hiking sticks help! Mostly, take your time going up and look back at the view.
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