Hi there!

 

If you are looking for just ONE hike to do in the Grand Canyon, you will likely be very happy if you make it the South Kaibab Trail!

If you’re not giving yourself much time in the Grand Canyon, you can even make this hike your ONLY Grand Canyon activity, and you can leave the national park thinking you had a perfect one day in the Grand Canyon, I think!

Most people who do this trail do it as an out-and-back. There are lots of spectacular views.

 

South Kaibab Trail - best grand canyon views. best day hikes in Grand Canyon National Park South Rim. Arizona travel blog

South Kaibab Trail - best grand canyon views. best day hikes in Grand Canyon National Park South Rim. Arizona travel blog

South Kaibab Trail - best grand canyon views. best day hikes in Grand Canyon National Park South Rim. Arizona travel blog

South Kaibab Trail - best grand canyon views. best day hikes in Grand Canyon National Park South Rim. Arizona travel blog

South Kaibab Trail. best grand canyon day hike. best south rim day hike. best grand canyon hiking. viewpoints on south rim. to ooh aah point or to cedar ridge or to skeleton point or to river or to bright angel in one day. Best day hikes in Grand Canyon National Park South Rim. Arizona travel blog

 

 

 

South Kaibab Trail is one of best hiking trails in the Grand Canyon National Park!

 

This trail starts right near the Rim Trail at the “top” of the canyon on the popular South Rim part of the Grand Canyon National Park.

Starting at the top means that no matter how you choose to do this trail, you will be starting off the hike by going DOWN…

 

South Kaibab Trail. elevation change. difficulty of hiking trails in Grand Canyon National Park South Rim. Arizona travel blog

South Kaibab Trail. elevation change. difficulty of hiking trails in Grand Canyon National Park South Rim. Arizona travel blog

South Kaibab Trail. elevation change. difficulty of hiking trails in Grand Canyon National Park South Rim. Arizona travel blog

 

…and then your way back will be going UP.

 

South Kaibab Trail. elevation change. difficulty of hiking trails in Grand Canyon National Park South Rim. Arizona travel blog

 

So while you may be thinking as you start off that it’s an easy hike, don’t forget that if you’re going down, it means you have to go back up!

 

South Kaibab Trail. elevation change. difficulty of hiking trails in Grand Canyon National Park South Rim. Arizona travel blog

South Kaibab Trail - to which viewpoint - elevation change, weather, temperature. ooh aah point or cedar ridge or skeleton point. Grand Canyon National Park South Rim. Arizona travel blog

 

And on that note… also be sure to bring plenty of water and snacks in your daypack – more than you think you need!

 

South Kaibab Trail - what to pack for grand canyon day hike. what to bring in winter or summer. Grand Canyon National Park South Rim. Arizona travel blog

 

If you’re lacking energy on the trail, it’s amazing what a few hundred calories can do for your energy levels! Personally, I liked having goldfish crackers (salty snack!) and energy chews (a pretty quick way to get 200 calories!) on the trail. Eat before you start on the trail too.

I also think it’s a very good idea to consider bringing hiking poles with you too, in particular to save your knees from the steep downhills!

I had hiking poles but don’t like using them and as a result I didn’t use them very much. I think this was a mistake! Hiking the South Kaibab Trail in the Grand Canyon, in addition to hiking some steep trails at Zion and Bryce Canyon in the following days where I also minimally used hiking poles, made me feel it in my knees for sure by the end of the Southwest national parks road trip! The popular trails at these parks have many downhills.

If you have several steep hikes planned over several days… use the hiking poles!!

For the Grand Canyon and Zion hikes I was wearing trail running shoes. (Trail running shoes give a little better traction than normal shoes.) For the Bryce Canyon hikes, there was snow so I wore waterproof hiking boots. (Hiking boots can keep the toes warmer and more dry!) This was December.

And speaking of canyons, if you’re headed to Utah national parks after the Grand Canyon, stop by Glen Canyon National Recreation Area on your drive up north (or on your way back down south) for another iconic canyon view!

 

 

So there are a few different ways to do the South Kaibab Trail.

Most people do the South Kaibab Trail as an out-and-back trail. And because it’s is an out-and-back, it’s easy to adapt the hike to your fitness level or to adapt it based on how long you want to hike – you just turn around sooner, or later!

There are a few common turnaround points.

People also do the full length of the South Kaibab Trail and back to make it a long day hike. While plenty of people do this, it’s officially not recommended. More on this later, including notes on weather temperatures by season, which can be among the biggest reason it’s not recommended. (The long climb for the last half of your hike being another reason.)

 

Now…

First, the quick list of your main options for hiking the South Kaibab Trail as a one day hike.

Then, a map of South Kaibab Trail to get a better idea of the visual of turnaround points.

And then, a bit about taking the free shuttle in the Grand Canyon to get to start this hike.

And then finally, PHOTOS of what you can see on the South Kaibab Trail as part of your perfect time in the Grand Canyon National Park!

 

 

Now…

3 best viewpoints on the South Kaibab Trail in Grand Canyon South Rim

 

The listed distance, elevation, and time are mostly what’s estimated by the National Park Service.

 

The South Kaibab Trailhead is located at 7,200 feet (2,195 m) in elevation just off the Rim Trail.

 

 

1. Hike to Ooh Aah Point (and back)

South Kaibab Trail - best grand canyon day hikes. to ooh aah point. Best things to do in Grand Canyon National Park South Rim. Arizona travel blog
Distance: 0.9 miles one way (1.8 mile hike round trip)
Elevation: 6,440 ft (1,965 m)
Time: Allow 1-2 hours

 

 

2. Hike to Cedar Ridge (and back)

South Kaibab Trail - best grand canyon day hikes. to cedar ridge. Best things to do in Grand Canyon National Park South Rim. Arizona travel blog
Distance: 1.5 miles one way (3 mile hike round trip)
Elevation: 6,080 ft (1,855 m)
Time: Allow 2-4 hours

Officially, hiking to Cedar Point is the furthest recommended spot to go to as a day hike during the summer.

 

 

3. Hike to Skeleton Point (and back)

South Kaibab Trail - best grand canyon day hikes. to skeleton point. Best things to do in Grand Canyon National Park South Rim. Arizona travel blog
Distance: 3 miles one way (6 mile hike round trip)
Elevation: 5,160 ft (1,575 m)
Time: Allow 4-6 hours

Officially, hiking to Skeleton Point is the furthest recommended spot to go to as a day hike when temperatures aren’t incredibly high.

 

 

PLUS… 2 more ways to make it a day hike on the South Kaibab Trail

These next 2 are officially not recommended!

Quote from the National Park Service:

WARNING: Do not attempt to hike from the rim to the river and back in one day, especially May to September!

 

But, while the National Park Service does not recommend it, there are people who do these following hikes in one day too.

 

 

4. Hike the full South Kaibab Trail to Colorado River (and back)

South Kaibab Trail - best grand canyon day hikes. to colorado river. Best things to do in Grand Canyon National Park South Rim. Arizona travel blog
Distance: 6.3 miles one way (12.6 mile hike round trip)
Elevation: 2,480 ft (756 m)

 

 

5. Hike the full South Kaibab Trail to river and take the Bright Angel Trail back up

South Kaibab Trail - best grand canyon day hikes. to bright angel trail. Best things to do in Grand Canyon National Park South Rim. Arizona travel blog
Distance: 15-16+ mile hike total

 

 

So then…

Which point on the South Kaibab Trail should you day hike to?!

Ooh Aah Point or Cedar Ridge or Skeleton Point?!

Of course, this can depend on many things, most importantly what you’re looking for in a Grand Canyon day hike, but…

If you definitely want to do some Grand Canyon hiking but are having difficulty deciding which viewpoint to hike to and need someone to make a decision for you…

Hiking to Cedar Ridge I think is the best option!

You can get expansive views of the Grand Canyon by going to Ooh Aah Point. So this makes even “just” a hike to Ooh Aah Point worth it.

But hiking to Cedar Ridge can be even more worth it!

There’s a spot at Cedar Ridge that juts out that can give you views of the Grand Canyon that will make it feel even more grander!

Skeleton Point will give you continued grand views with a longer hike, but I think those grand views you’ll see at Cedar Ridge can make the South Kaibab Trail very worth it when you’re looking for a hike in the Grand Canyon!

 

 

Map of South Kaibab Trail

Now for the visual!

 

South Kaibab Trail map - best grand canyon day hikes. National Park Service, NPS. Arizona travel blog

South Kaibab Trail map - best grand canyon day hikes. Arizona travel blog
Explore the map. And you can probably ignore the estimated time shown on Google Maps since this isn’t a normal walk!

 

On the map above, you can see the main scenic viewpoints that are on the South Kaibab Trail:

  • Ooh Aah Point
  • Cedar Ridge
  • Skeleton Point
  • Tip Off Point
  • River Trail

 

 

National Park Service Grand Canyon hiking info

South Kaibab Trail. South Rim trail viewpoints. with north rim trail. best grand canyon day hikes. Best viewpoints in Grand Canyon National Park South Rim. Arizona travel blog

South Kaibab Trail. South Rim viewpoints elevation. best grand canyon day hikes. Best viewpoints in Grand Canyon National Park South Rim. Arizona travel blog

 

See the NPS Grand Canyon hiking brochure for more planning tips for your hike!

Also before you go, check for any official park alerts which includes road closures. This can be especially important if you’ll be visiting the Grand Canyon in winter.

 

 

How to get to South Kaibab trailhead by taking the Grand Canyon shuttle

How to get to South Kaibab trail. south rim orange shuttle to south kaibab trailhead. no parking lot. for best views in grand canyon south rim. best grand canyon day hikes. Best viewpoints in Grand Canyon National Park South Rim. Arizona travel blog

 

There is no parking allowed at the South Kaibab trailhead at any time of the year.

Instead, there’s a Grand Canyon shuttle that makes a stop at the South Kaibab trailhead. The orange shuttle arrives at each stop every 15 minutes or so to drive around the South Rim and it’s pretty convenient.

You can take this shuttle from the Grand Canyon Visitor Center. There’s a pretty big parking lot here. Once you enter the national park, you can follow the signs to the visitor center.

There is also a hiker’s express shuttle that goes to the trailhead, but this has limited timings so unless you’re getting started on the South Kaibab trail early, the orange shuttle is likely your best option.

To put it simply…

Just show up to the Grand Canyon visitor center parking lot, head to the shuttle stop area, and wait less than 15 minutes for the shuttle to the South Kaibab trailhead on the South Rim orange shuttle!

 

How to get to South Kaibab trail from grand canyon visitor center parking lot. hikers express shuttle or south rim orange shuttle to south kaibab trailhead. no parking lot. for best views in grand canyon south rim. best grand canyon day hikes. Best viewpoints in Grand Canyon National Park South Rim. Arizona travel blog

 

It will also be easy to figure out the stop to get off at. There will be an announcement and it will say it’s the South Kaibab trailhead.

 

 

πŸšΆβ€β™€οΈ

 

 

And now…

Some of what you might see on the South Kaibab Trail!

aka PHOTOS! These pictures are from hiking the Grand Canyon in December 2019!

 

Hiking the Grand Canyon in winter on the South Rim

My trip to Grand Canyon National Park was in December, a few days before Christmas, and there was no major snowstorm that came through in the days leading up to my winter Grand Canyon visit. (Always a possibility for the Grand Canyon in winter so check the weather as your travel dates approach!) 

I hiked down the South Kaibab Trail to Skeleton Point and then turned around. There was a little bit of snow at the very top (start) of the South Kaibab Trail, maybe along with a few icy patches, but most of the trail I would say was without snow.

Once I got back up to the top, I walked along the flat Rim Trail from the South Kaibab trailhead to the Bright Angel trailhead, stopping by some of the popular Rim Trail viewpoints like Mather Point and Yavapai Point. I hiked on the Bright Angel Trail for about an hour or so. (You can also take the Grand Canyon shuttle for less walking along the Rim Trail!)

When it comes to winter hiking in the Grand Canyon on the South Rim, it felt like there was considerably more snow on the top part of the the Bright Angel Trail compared to the top part of the South Kaibab Trail. It seems like part of this is because of how much exposure the trail gets to sun because of the canyon’s shadow. (Less exposure to sun would mean less chance for the snow to melt!)

On the same day, my brother hiked down the entire South Kaibab Trail to the Colorado River, hiked along the river trail, and then took the Bright Angel Trail back up to the Rim Trail, making it a 15+ mile hike. The weather was ideal to hike South Kaibab and Bright Angel in one day!

 

 

 

 

Hike to Ooh Aah Point

South Kaibab Trail to Ooh Aah Point. best grand canyon day hikes. Best viewpoints in Grand Canyon National Park South Rim. Arizona travel blog

South Kaibab Trail - best grand canyon day hikes. to ooh aah point. Best viewpoints in Grand Canyon National Park South Rim. Arizona travel blog
Distance: 0.9 miles one way (1.8 mile hike round trip)
Elevation: 6,440 ft (1,965 m)
Time: Allow 1-2 hours

 

Ooh Aah Point is the very first main viewpoint you’ll come across. Can you guess why it’s called Ooh Aah Point?! Lame, I know. πŸ˜‰ But there’s a good chance you’ll hear someone around you say the same lame thing when you see Ooh Aah Point for the first time. πŸ˜‰

You can hang out at Ooh Aah Point on the rocks before heading back up to the trailhead or moving on to the Cedar Ridge viewpoint.

 

South Kaibab Trail to ooh aah point hike on south rim. best grand canyon day hikes. Best viewpoints in Grand Canyon National Park South Rim. Arizona travel blog

 

If you’re looking for an “easy” hike in the Grand Canyon, then the hike to Ooh Aah Point would probably be it.

That said, an “easy” Grand Canyon hike isn’t just a stroll in the park! But if you are a somewhat active person back home, you will probably manage just fine. Be sure to always bring water and snacks just in case, no matter the time or distance of your chosen Grand Canyon hike though!

 

South Kaibab Trail to ooh aah point hike on south rim. best grand canyon day hikes. Best viewpoints in Grand Canyon National Park South Rim. Arizona travel blog

South Kaibab Trail to ooh aah point hike on south rim. best grand canyon day hikes. Best viewpoints in Grand Canyon National Park South Rim. Arizona travel blog

South Kaibab Trail to ooh aah point hike on south rim. best grand canyon day hikes. Best viewpoints in Grand Canyon National Park South Rim. Arizona travel blog

 

South Kaibab Trail to Ooh Aah Point: See more photos from this part of the South Kaibab hike.

 

 

Hike to Cedar Ridge

South Kaibab Trail to cedar ridge. best grand canyon day hikes. Best viewpoints in Grand Canyon National Park South Rim. Arizona travel blog

South Kaibab Trail - best grand canyon day hikes. to cedar ridge. Best viewpoints in Grand Canyon National Park South Rim. Arizona travel blog
Distance: 1.5 miles one way (3 mile hike round trip)
Elevation: 6,080 ft (1,855 m)
Time: Allow 2-4 hours

 

The next main viewpoint you’ll come across is Cedar Ridge.

Compared to the Ooh Aah viewpoint area, the Cedar Ridge area feels a bit more expansive.

Bring a packed picnic lunch, and perhaps a pocket blanket so you can lay it out to sit on, and this can be a great spot to hang out for a bit as you refuel and take in the Grand Canyon views!

For some of the best views at Cedar Ridge, be sure to walk out to the area that juts out a bit. When you’re coming from the top of the canyon, this will be off to the left.

There are also “pit toilets” here, although toilet paper can’t always be expected so maybe bring your own, along with a travel-sized hand sanitizer bottle.

This is the recommended turnaround point for summer day hikes.

 

South Kaibab Trail to cedar ridge hike on south rim. best grand canyon day hikes. Best viewpoints in Grand Canyon National Park South Rim. Arizona travel blog

South Kaibab Trail to cedar ridge hike on south rim. best grand canyon day hikes. Best viewpoints in Grand Canyon National Park South Rim. Arizona travel blog

South Kaibab Trail to cedar ridge hike on south rim. best grand canyon day hikes. Best viewpoints in Grand Canyon National Park South Rim. Arizona travel blog

South Kaibab Trail to cedar ridge hike on south rim. best grand canyon day hikes. Best viewpoints in Grand Canyon National Park South Rim. Arizona travel blog

South Kaibab Trail to cedar ridge hike on south rim. best grand canyon day hikes. Best viewpoints in Grand Canyon National Park South Rim. Arizona travel blog

 

 

Hike to Skeleton Point

South Kaibab Trail to Skeleton Point. best grand canyon day hikes. Best viewpoints in Grand Canyon National Park South Rim. Arizona travel blog

South Kaibab Trail - best grand canyon day hikes. to skeleton point. Best viewpoints in Grand Canyon National Park South Rim. Arizona travel blog
Distance: 3 miles one way (6 mile hike round trip)
Elevation: 5,160 ft (1,575 m)
Time: Allow 4-6 hours

 

This can also be a nice place to enjoy a picnic lunch with views of the Grand Canyon.

This is the recommended turnaround point for day hikes in winter, spring, and fall, when temperatures are a bit cooler.

 

South Kaibab Trail to skeleton point hike on south rim. best grand canyon day hikes. Best viewpoints in Grand Canyon National Park South Rim. Arizona travel blog

South Kaibab Trail to skeleton point hike on south rim. best grand canyon day hikes. Best viewpoints in Grand Canyon National Park South Rim. Arizona travel blog

South Kaibab Trail to skeleton point hike on south rim. best grand canyon day hikes. Best viewpoints in Grand Canyon National Park South Rim. Arizona travel blog

South Kaibab Trail to skeleton point hike on south rim. best grand canyon day hikes. Best viewpoints in Grand Canyon National Park South Rim. Arizona travel blog

 

South Kaibab Trail to Skeleton Point: See more photos from this part of the South Kaibab hike.

 

 

 

Hike to Tip Off Point

South Kaibab Trail to Tip Off Point. best grand canyon day hikes. Best viewpoints in Grand Canyon National Park South Rim. Arizona travel blog

South Kaibab Trail - best grand canyon day hikes. to tip off point. Best viewpoints in Grand Canyon National Park South Rim. Arizona travel blog

 

If you continue on further, you’ll come across Tip Off Point.

There’s a pit toilet here too, as well as a shelter area. This is basically good as a resting spot in the shade along the trail.

 

South Kaibab Trail to Tip Off Point hike. best grand canyon day hikes. Best viewpoints in Grand Canyon National Park South Rim. Arizona travel blog

 

 

Hike to the river

South Kaibab Trail to river day hike. colorado river trail to bright angel. best grand canyon day hikes. Best viewpoints in Grand Canyon National Park South Rim. Arizona travel blog

 

Officially, this is not recommended as a day hike, but plenty of people do it.

 

Once again, official advice from the National Park Service:

Do not attempt to hike from rim to river and back in a day.

Many who tried suffered illness or death.

 

If you make it to the “end” of South Kaibab Trail, you’ll make it to the Colorado River.

Here, you’ll also see the suspension bridge which is considered to be an engineering feat.

 

South Kaibab Trail to river day hike. colorado river trail to bright angel. best grand canyon day hikes. Best viewpoints in Grand Canyon National Park South Rim. Arizona travel blog

South Kaibab Trail to river day hike. colorado river trail to bright angel. best grand canyon day hikes. Best viewpoints in Grand Canyon National Park South Rim. Arizona travel blog

South Kaibab Trail to river day hike. colorado river trail to bright angel. best grand canyon day hikes. Best viewpoints in Grand Canyon National Park South Rim. Arizona travel blog

South Kaibab Trail to river day hike. colorado river trail to bright angel. best grand canyon day hikes. Best viewpoints in Grand Canyon National Park South Rim. Arizona travel blog

South Kaibab Trail to river day hike. colorado river trail to bright angel. best grand canyon day hikes. Best viewpoints in Grand Canyon National Park South Rim. Arizona travel blog

South Kaibab Trail to river day hike. colorado river trail to suspension bridge. best grand canyon day hikes. Best viewpoints in Grand Canyon National Park South Rim. Arizona travel blog

South Kaibab Trail to river day hike. colorado river trail to suspension bridge. best grand canyon day hikes. Best viewpoints in Grand Canyon National Park South Rim. Arizona travel blog

South Kaibab Trail to river. best grand canyon day hikes. Best viewpoints in Grand Canyon National Park South Rim. Arizona travel blog

South Kaibab Trail to river day hike. colorado river trail to bright angel. best grand canyon day hikes. Best viewpoints in Grand Canyon National Park South Rim. Arizona travel blog

 

 

South Kaibab Trail to Bright Angel Trail

South Kaibab Trail - best grand canyon day hikes. to bright angel trail. Best viewpoints in Grand Canyon National Park South Rim. Arizona travel blog

 

And then if you make it to the Colorado River, you can turn around to head back up the South Kaibab Trail. Or you can continue onwards to meet the Bright Angel Trail and make your way back up to the top of the canyon on the Bright Angel Trail.

 

South Kaibab Trail - best grand canyon day hikes. to bright angel trail. Best viewpoints in Grand Canyon National Park South Rim. Arizona travel blog

 

The South Kaibab trailhead and the Bright Angel trailhead are both on the Rim Trail, although in separate locations. They are around 4.3 miles apart on the Rim Trail. You can walk this part of the Rim Trail.

So instead of an out-and-back on the South Kaibab Trail, the other way people do it is to combine it with the Bright Angel Trail and basically do it as an almost loop.

 

Map for hiking the South Kaibab Trail and Bright Angel Trail in one day. Grand Canyon hiking trail. arizona travel blog
Explore the map.

 

 

The same warnings for the day hike on South Kaibab to the river and back apply for doing South Kaibab and Bright Angel in one day!

There are also campgrounds in the Grand Canyon if you want to make it an overnight backpacking trip. (Some are open in winter too.) This is a popular backpacking trail in the Grand Canyon.

 

South Kaibab Trail and Bright Angel Trail. Backpacking in the Grand Canyon with overnight camping at campgrounds. Grand Canyon National Park South Rim. Arizona travel blog

South Kaibab Trail and Bright Angel Trail. Backpacking in the Grand Canyon with overnight camping at campgrounds. Grand Canyon National Park South Rim. Arizona travel blog

 

 

Weather on the South Kaibab trail

According to the National Park Service:

Summer temperatures in the shade reach 105F (40C) below Skeleton Point and 115F at Phantom Ranch.

Avoid hiking in the heat of the day, between 10am and 4pm.

In winter, temperatures drop below 32F (0C) with steep icy trails requiring shoe traction devices.

Upper portion of trail may be extremely icy in winter or early spring.

From July to September, monsoons build large violent lightning storms.

Move away from the canyon edge and seek immediate shelter in a building or vehicle.

The edge of the canyon (where the South Kaibab trailhead is located) is the most dangerous place to be.

 

If you choose to do ANY of these hikes on South Kaibab Trail, and especially the longer options as a day hike, be sure to be extra prepared!

As mentioned, in summer, temperatures in the inner canyon can reach 100+ F.

In winter, if snow and ice aren’t a big issue (like a major snowstorm hasn’t just come through to dump a bunch of snow on the trail), then the winter months can actually be the most ideal time to do the whole South Kaibab Trail as a day hike, in terms of temperature.

I was in the Grand Canyon in December 2019 a few days before Christmas, and the morning temperature started off in the 20s F, and the highs were in the 50s F. Clear skies, too! (As you see from the pictures!) It seems like this was near-perfect Grand Canyon hiking weather.

 

Make sure to consider all factors, with the main ones being weather and elevation change, in determining which day hike in the Grand Canyon is right for you on the South Kaibab Trail!

 

Plan your Southwest national parks trip:

 

Explore more hiking trails in U.S. national parks!

 

HAPPY DAY HIKING THE SOUTH KAIBAB TRAIL IN THE GRAND CANYON!

 

South Kaibab Trail. best grand canyon viewpoints on south rim. to ooh aah point or to cedar ridge or to skeleton point or to river or to bright angel in one day. Best day hikes in Grand Canyon National Park South Rim. Arizona travel blog

 

 

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