AZT Passage 37: Starting out at Grand Canyon’s South Rim

The Trek (December 22, 2020) by Abigail Kessler

Though it’s listed as the South Rim section of the trail, this passage mostly takes you through Kaibab National Forest and the back ways of Grand Canyon National Park, only occasionally hinting at the chasm to come. There’s plenty to enjoy about the trip, however– as well as a number of options for detours. And when you’ve reached the northern end you’ll be left looking down over the rim of the Grand Canyon.

Basic Info

  • Length: 22.5 miles, one way
  • Expected Completion Time: One day (if thru-hiking at a pace of 20-30 miles/day) 4-5 days (if day-hiking 4-6 miles/day)
  • Location: South Kaibab Trailhead in GCNP to Tusayan Ranger District (roughly 15 miles east of GCNP visitor’s center on E Hwy 64 and 2 miles south from there). Maps are available on the Arizona Trail Association website.
  • Trail Type: Out and Back, though it does partially follow a few looped trails in the Tusayan Bike System
  • Scenery: Pinon and ponderosa pine forests with the occasional stone ledge, views of the Grand Canyon toward the end
  • Terrain: Easy. The hills are for the most part gentle and the trail is clear.
  • Navigation: For most of this section, the AZT is a well-marked dirt path, with both markers from the ATA and Kaibab National Forest. The trail occcasionally follows forest roads and later sections (namely the Tusayan Greenway) are paved. Toward Tusayan, trail markers will show numbers corresponding to the different loops of the bike trail. The signs you want to follow will also have the AZT logo on them and crossroads are generally well-marked.

Getting There

The northern trailhead is the South Kaibab in Grand Canyon National Park. To do this section southbound, you will be headed away from the canyon. You’re not allowed to park at the trailhead, so you can either leave your car in the small lot across from the turnoff (this is nearly always full April-October) and walk, or take the shuttle from the Visitor’s Center (orange route). Shuttles usually run year-round, but did close from March to August this year due to Covid precautions. The current status and schedules for park shuttles are found on the NPS website.

To reach the southern trailhead at Grandview Tower, head east on Highway 64 in the park. You’ll see a turnoff for a dirt road on your right (it’s the one after the Grandview Overlook if you’re coming from the South Rim). Turn here, and after about 2 miles, you’ll see an old fire lookout tower with restrooms and an informational sign. This is the trailhead parking lot.


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