The South Kaibab Trail is the shortest route to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, about six miles from the South Rim to Phantom Ranch. It weaves down through some amazing geology and then leads to the tunnel and bridge across the river to Phantom Ranch. The shortness of the trail, though, is due to its steepness, which might be an advantage on the way down, but is NOT on the way back up. It's actually wiser, if you're hiking back up to the South Rim, to continue on the trail downriver and take the longer but easier Bright Angel Trail back to the top.
Do NOT take the South Kaibab Trail back up in the summer. The trail is exposed to the relentless sun for its entire length, and there is no water to be found. Don't be fooled by its seemingly short distance into thinking you can be on top faster by taking it. That's a mistake. There is water and shade, along with more hikers, on the Bright Angel.
Every year there are hikers who think they can hike to the bottom and then back to the top in a single day. Only the hardiest are capable of this effort. I would strongly recommend against the effort unless you're extremely fit and well-prepared.
Even the shortest route, down the South Kaibab and back up it, is at least 12 miles, with an elevation loss and then re-gain of from around 7500 feet to around 2500 feet, nearly a vertical mile.
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