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“Best views while descending into the Canyon” 5 of 5 stars
Review of South Kaibab Trail

South Kaibab Trail
Along the side road to Yaki Point, Grand Canyon National Park, AZ
520-638-7888
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Type: Hiking Trails, Trails
Activities: Hiking
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Attraction Details
Owner description: One of the two superhighways into the Canyon, the other being the Bright Angel Trail, this path runs along a ridge offering stunning views. During the summer, visitors are advised to bring at least two quarts of water along because it can get very hot and the trail offers no shade.
Utrecht, The Netherlands
Senior Contributor
40 reviews 40 reviews
5 attraction reviews
Reviews in 34 cities Reviews in 34 cities
58 helpful votes 58 helpful votes
“Best views while descending into the Canyon”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 28, 2013

I was out for a hike to Phantom Ranch (1 night) and back the next day second week of January. Park Rangers adviced me the "classic" loop: down South Kaibab Trail (SKT), up Bright Angel Trail (BAT). Some reasons for that:
1. views, views, views...SKT definitely has the best views of the Canyon and those are best enjoyed while descending, 2. SKT of course is steeper, so most people (not all!) would prefer going down the steeper trail and 3. SKT has no water or shade (consideration in summer); both needed most during the ascend.

The trail is in absolutely perfect condition. The first 1/2 mile were snow covered (not really icy) and very well accessible with my rugged hiking/mountaineering boots. I bought YakTrax at the bookstore that made hiking on the snow very comfortable (worth the $25). Rest of the trail is just plain easy to hike down. I arrived at Phantom Ranch (7.5 miles, 3800ft elevation difference) exactly 3 hrs after my start. I did not take breaks besides taking some pictures.
The trail is 7,5 mile with an average 16% grade (to put things in perspective: the Upper Yosemite Falls hike, for those who've done it, is over 22% following the much rougher 4 mile trail)

See my review of Phantom Ranch for my thoughts on (staying at) the bottom of the Canyon, if interested.

I doubted extensively taking SKT back up or BAT. I decided to follow the rangers advice and complete the loop using BAT, despite it being 3 miles longer. It certainly was a good choice. BAT is a totally different trail, wider and easier, but also very nice. During winter the trail is just empty and the solitude was just great! Last 3 miles were snow covered and little slippery. I would have managed without, but was very happy wearing my YakTrax again. They are like airconditioning in summer, you can manage without, but once used to it, you don't want to!

I hiked up to the Rim in 5 hours, taking two 15 minutes breaks (at Indian Gardens and 3-mile house). Nutrition (fix and fluid) and consistent pace are the key words. In summer heat is the enemy, in winter...there was none, not the snow, not the record cold (20F at noon at the Rim!) and not the fresh now. Did only the Plateau Point loop in summer once and it "killed" me, now I know it was the heat *only*, that made it a struggle.

Would do this hike again anytime....but summer: dangerously hot and way to crowded!!

Visited January 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Wiickenburg, AZ
Senior Contributor
22 reviews 22 reviews
6 attraction reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
“Like Hiking in an Unreal Photo”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 28, 2013

This is my favorite Grand Canyon trail. The trail follows a ridge line so the views are unbelievable. The Grand Canyon views change around every corner. The trail is very hot in the summer with no water sources and can be icy in winter. The trail takes you to the Colorado River and Phantom Ranch.

Visited January 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Watertown, Massachusetts
Senior Contributor
27 reviews 27 reviews
8 attraction reviews
Reviews in 19 cities Reviews in 19 cities
18 helpful votes 18 helpful votes
“This trail is better the Bright Angel”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 25, 2013

This trail has better views in my opinion than the Bright Angel trail. We did portions of both on our stay and if we go back we're picking this one again for sure. Make sure you are prepared for the hike!

Visited January 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Pisa, Italy
Contributor
14 reviews 14 reviews
5 attraction reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
19 helpful votes 19 helpful votes
“To the river and back”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 24, 2013

Everywhere on the net people and authorities advice you NOT to do this. Don't even try to go to the river and back in the same day. Well, my wife and I wanted really bad to see the river, and we didn't have but one day to do this hiking. It was middle of November. We had a hotel room in Williams. It'a at about one hour driving from the Grand Canyon Village. We left the hotel in the morning at about 4am. We reached GC Village at about 5am. There was no ranger at the park entrance, so we didn't have to pay the reservation fee. At 5.30 we took the shuttle bus to the South Kaibab Trail. We started descent in the dark. In about 30mins we started to distinguish shapes and some daylight. The trail is spectacular, with breath-taking views. It took us about 4 hours to get to the river. We crossed the bridge walked about 30mins along the river on the noth side and then crossed the next bridge and started climbing on the Bright Angel Trail. We managed to reach GC Village around 5pm, when it was just getting dark. I think this was one of my best hikings ever. We are both in our thirties doing office work every day, so we are not that fit for hiking. It wasn't easy after all, but it was a challenge. It was great. I wouldn't recommend doing this in the summer though. The trails are all exposed in the sun thus you are supposed to carry a lot of water with you.

Visited November 2012
Was this review helpful? Yes 6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Charlotte
Senior Contributor
27 reviews 27 reviews
5 attraction reviews
Reviews in 13 cities Reviews in 13 cities
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
“beautiful hike”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 23, 2013

We (my husband, myself, and sons ages 26,23, and 16) hike the South Kaibab Trail to cedar ridge just before Christmas, and it was magnificent!! We took it slow because there was snow on parts of the trail. Our ascent out was not as bad as we had been led to think by all the reading we had done. The shuttle to the trail head was quick and no problem. We really enjoyed ourselves!!

Visited December 2012
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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