Hiking Project Logo

AZT - Passage 38 - North Kaibab



14.7 mile 23.6 kilometer point to point


Ascent: 616' 188 m
Descent: -6,384' -1,946 m
High: 8,222' 2,506 m
Low: 2,454' 748 m


Avg Grade: 9% (5°)
Max Grade: 63% (32°)


No Dogs
Driving directions Take a virtual tour
Zoom in to see details
Map Key

Trail shared by Nicholas Shannon

This trail is the least visited & most difficult of the three maintained trails at Grand Canyon NP.

Nicholas Shannon

Features Fall Colors · River/Creek · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife


This trail is the second section of the AZT - Passage 38 - Grand Canyon - Inner Gorge, following the South Kaibab trail as the first section.

The North Kaibab initially descends steeply down the head of a valley via a series of numerous switchbacks. After the lush verdancy and impressive views below the trailhead, the trail reaches the distinctive Supai Tunnel, where hikers will find potable water (mid-May to mid-October) and pit toilets. Switchbacks continue to the massive cliffs of Redwall Limestone, where for long stretches the trail has been blasted out of the cliff in a half tunnel. The Redwall section is awe-inspiring with fantastic exposure and views.

Where the bulk of the trail's descent meets the flatter bottom of Bright Angel Canyon, Roaring Springs is a worthwhile side trip. Here, water gushes forth directly out of the cliffs, cascading over moss and fern to form Bright Angel Creek.

At mile 5.4 an unexpected house comes into view. The Pumphouse Residence, also known as the Aiken Residence, is where artist and park employee Bruce Aiken lived and painted for decades. In years past the lucky hiker could get a refreshing cup of lemonade from one of the Aiken kids who were raised at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.

Those fortunate to overnight at Cottonwood Campground will have the time to explore a beautiful oasis located 1.6 miles down-creek from the campground: Ribbon Falls is a true gem of the North Kaibab Trail. The waterfall is located in a grotto on the west side of Bright Angel Creek, so reaching it is a short but extremely rewarding side trip. Hikers caught in the heat of the day should consider taking a siesta here from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Between Cottonwood Campground and Bright Angel Campground the trail enters the Inner Gorge, a narrow canyon where the trail is boxed in on either side by 1.7 billion-year-old Vishnu Schist. Though the trail here is not challenging from the perspective of elevation profile, be aware that this is a particularly dangerous stretch of trail during summer months.

Because the entire 7.2 mile stretch is at low elevation, it becomes extremely hot from early morning to late afternoon. The gorge of black rock through which the trail passes becomes like an oven and can be compared to walking through a parking lot in Phoenix or Las Vegas in summertime. Always plan on reaching Bright Angel Campground before ten in the morning.

Flora & Fauna

At the rim, hikers will glimpse the vast maw of Bright Angel Canyon through fir trees and aspen, ferns and wildflowers. As you descend, the ecology progresses into a blend of riparian and desert vegetation.

Hiked this trail?

We need help with the following missing trail information:

Need to Know

Is something wrong? Let us know. Have photos to share? Help fellow hikers know what's here.


Rate This Trail

Rate Quality

   Clear Rating

Rate Difficulty

Share This Trail

Check In


Jul 13, 2019
涼 宮野
May 28, 2019
Down to Supai Tunnel 3.4mi — 2h 30m
May 24, 2019
Andrew Litwin
May 18, 2019
Colin Pollock
May 18, 2019
Matthew Kidd
Rim to Roaring Falls and back. Beautiful weather, perfect temperature. Many trail runners. Hail and high winds at Imperial Point the next day!
May 7, 2019
Chris McCloud
Done as part of R3 May 6-8 while working at GRCA 2019. Beautiful trail, albeit very steep in places.
Mar 8, 2019
Howard McGee
Phantom ranch to rainbow falls and back 13.5mi
Oct 20, 2018
Christina Lizzo
Out and back 18mi — 7h 00m

Trail Ratings

  4.7 from 17 votes


in North Rim


  4.7 from 17 votes
5 Star
4 Star
3 Star
2 Star
1 Star
Trail Rankings


in North Rim


in Arizona


73 Views Last Month
2,582 Since May 6, 2015



Hiking Project is part of the REI Co-op family,
where a life outdoors is a life well lived.

Shop REI Hiking