South Kaibab Trail, Canyon Rim Trail offer options for day hikers during Bright Angel Trail closure
GRAND CANYON, Ariz. — Construction on the Transcanyon Water Pipeline has recently closed several popular hiking trails on the South Rim, including the Bright Angel Trail, parts of the Tonto Trail and Plateau Point.
While Bright Angel Trail will remain open from the trailhead to half a mile down the trail to the turnaround point, those seeking longer day hikes or alternative routes can plan to hike the Canyon Rim Trail or South Kaibab Trail.
The Canyon Rim Trail stretches nearly 13 miles from the South Kaibab Trailhead to Hermits Rest, featuring numerous overlooks offering panoramic views of the Grand Canyon. This trail is wheelchair accessible from Lookout Studio to South Kaibab Trailhead, with various shuttle bus stops along the trail.
The South Kaibab is another day hiking option. Considered a more popular trail on the South Rim, the South Kaibab connects to the Bright Angel Trail via the Tonto Trail and ties in with the North Kaibab Trail at Phantom Ranch.
While slightly shorter in length (the South Kaibab is 7 miles from the South Rim to the Colorado River, while Bright Angel Trail is 9.5 miles) the routes have similar grades, however, the South Kaibab has no water access or shade. According to the park, most hikers take around 4-6 hours to hike to the river via the South Kaibab Trail.
Access to the South Kaibab also calls for more planning. It is located near Yaki Point Road, which is around 5 miles from Grand Canyon Village. There is no public access to Yaki Point Road and parking is not allowed at the trailhead. Those wanting to hike the trail must use the park’s shuttle bus system to access the trailhead. Visitors can choose to park at the Visitor Center, then taking the Kaibab (Orange) Route shuttle bus to the trailhead. It is a 9-minute ride from the Visitor Center to the South Kaibab Trailhead. They can also catch buses that leave from Bright Angel Lodge and then from the Backcountry Information Center. Shuttle times are available on the park’s website. Visitors will then need to plan to catch the shuttle back to the village.
After arriving at the South Kaibab trailhead, visitors have the following options for day hikes:
Rim to Cedar Ridge: 1.5 miles
Cedar Ridge to Skeleton Point: 1.5 miles
Skeleton Point to the Tipoff: 1.4 miles
Tipoff to Bright Angel Campground: 7 miles
Rim to Bright Angel Campground: 7 miles
During the winter months, icy trail conditions are present on the upper reaches of all inner canyon trails, as well as along the Canyon Rim Trail.
During work on the Transcanyon Water Pipeline hikers will not be allowed to pass through construction areas under any circumstances. Doing so is a violation of the park’s closure order and could result in fines and jail time.
A permit is required to camp in a location other than a developed campground on the North and South Rims. To obtain a permit, visitors should visit the park’s Backcountry Permit page at www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/backcountry-permit.
More information is available at www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/key-messages.