Location

  • South Kaibab Trailhead to North Kaibab Trailhead

Length

  • 21.8 miles

Southern Trailhead: South Kaibab Trailhead

Access

There is no overnight parking or camping at the trailhead. You must take a shuttle from Grand Canyon Village, near the intersection of US 180 and AZ 64. Information is available within the Park Guide you’ll receive at the entrance kiosk, and also at the Visitor Center.


Northern Trailhead: North Kaibab Trailhead

Access

The parking area is on the east side of AZ 67, 41 miles south of Jacob Lake and 2.3 miles north of Grand Canyon Lodge. The trailhead is at the south end of the parking lot.


Trail Route Description

Passage 38 crosses the Grand Canyon from the south rim to the north rim. This physically strenuous and awe-inspiring section follows the well-maintained South Kaibab Trail that descends sharply from the south rim to the Colorado River, then ascends steeply to the north rim on the North Kaibab Trail. Your hard work will be rewarded by the sheer beauty of the Grand Canyon and what is possibly the most scenic section of the Arizona National Scenic Trail!

This section completes the epic “rim-to-rim” route and is both spectacular and challenging. In fact, many people see the route through this section as a bucket list experience on its own.

Prepare yourself for extreme changes in elevation and climate, a variety of ecosystems, and a journey through two billion years of geological history that is unlike anywhere else in the world!

The journey begins on the South Kaibab Trail, a high-quality trail with scenic vistas, little shade, and no water. The trail makes a stunning descent of over 4,000 feet within the first six miles, following a series of switchbacks down the canyon wall to meet the mighty Colorado River. 

After passing by Phantom Ranch at the bottom of the canyon, the trail becomes the North Kaibab Trail, where it continues gently toward Cottonwood Campground. After this landmark, North Kaibab truly begins its arduous climb out of one of the world’s deepest canyons. It ends at the North Kaibab Trailhead at an elevation of 8,000 feet, where temperatures remain cold and snow may persist into late spring. 

There are no words or photographs that can convey the magnitude of the Grand Canyon’s unique landscape. The only way to appreciate the canyon’s grandeur is to hike into its depths, a place that gets fewer than one percent of the park’s total annual visitors. A short side trail leads to Ribbon Falls, one of the most photographed features within the canyon’s inner gorge. Don’t miss it!

Camping at the bottom of the Grand Canyon is a unique experience, but must be planned in advance. Permits are required for camping and can be obtained from the Backcountry Office up to four months in advance. Walk-up permits are also possible. In addition, the Backcountry Office handles accommodations for long-distance hikers, bikers, and equestrians traveling the entire length of the AZT.

Difficulty

  • Difficult

Season(s)

All year. Snow may be present after winter storms


Water

Water can be found at the Colorado River, Bright Angel Campground, Phantom Ranch, Bright Angel Creek, Cottonwood Camp and Roaring Springs.  Check the online Arizona Trail Water Report for current information at https://aztrail.org/explore/water-sources/.


Notes/Warnings

  • All water found in creeks and springs should be purified prior to use.
  • Mountain bikes are prohibited from being ridden in the canyon. You may carry your bike on your back but the wheels must never touch the ground. You can also send your bike to the other side of the canyon on the TransCanyon Shuttle while you hike across.
  • Horses are not recommended in the canyon. Please contact the Backcountry Office for more information.
  • A reservation and permit are required to spend a night below the rim. Day hiking does not require a permit. For more details on this, go to the Permits page.
  • North Rim facilities are closed from mid-October to mid-May.

Resources

  • Map of Passage 38
  • USGS Topographic Maps: Phantom Ranch and Bright Angel Point.
  • Grand Canyon National Park map.
  • BLM Information Center maps.

For more information


Current Passage Info

Water Treatment Advisory Within Grand Canyon National Park

Due to loss of chlorination at Roaring Springs, visitors traveling within the Inner Canyon north of the Colorado River need to treat all potable water sources with a water filtration system. This includes: Bright Angel Campground Phantom Ranch Cottonwood Campground Manzanita Rest Area Roaring Springs Supai Tunnel North Kaibab Trailhead In addition, waterline issues between Roaring Springs and the North Rim have caused a water scarcity issue and the following services are impacted: NO laundry or shower facilities on the North Rim Disposable utensils and plates within North Rim Lodge and other facilities
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Essay: Hot, Thirsty, Anxious … And Blessed

East Greenwich News (January 31, 2021) by Jonathan Malone It was hot, it was dry, and I was afraid that I was running out of water. I had been hiking through the high plateau desert in Arizona for three days and I had seen only a handful of people, lots of cows, and a few horses. I had heard elk and coyotes, but had not yet seen any of them. I was deep in the wilderness, there were few people, and my water supply was worrisome. I chose to be in this place. In September I backpacked for approximately 100 miles of the wilderness of Arizona. Hiking and backpacking are things  I love to do, and I have gone on many solo and group trips in the Adirondack Mountains in New York and the White Mountains in New Hampshire as well as other areas of the Northeast. I love taking time to be in the forest, by the streams and lakes, and surrounded by the mountains. This year I opted for something completely new to me; I decided to hike one small portion of the 800-mile Arizona Trail. I started just north of Flagstaff and headed to the North Rim of the...
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