Hiking Project Logo

South Bass



6.9 mile 11.1 kilometer point to point


Ascent: 196' 60 m
Descent: -4,619' -1,408 m
High: 6,652' 2,028 m
Low: 2,230' 680 m


Avg Grade: 13% (8°)
Max Grade: 73% (36°)


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

Trail shared by Nicholas Shannon

A well-defined and historic trail leads you to the Colorado River at the base of the Grand Canyon.

Nicholas Shannon

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


This well-defined descending traverse gets hikers through the Kaibab and Toroweap formations. The trail passes an old fence and follows the rim of the Coconino a short distance north before starting down rocky switchbacks to the Esplanade platform at the top of the Supai Formation.

The Royal Arch Route leaves the South Bass Trail and starts west where the trail comes to the Esplanade, the junction marked with a large cairn. Stay right at this intersection and follow the South Bass Trail north across the terrace east of Mount Huethawali. The route traverses near the Supai Rim for about a mile to a steep break that allows passage to the slopes below.

Dropping below the Esplanade, the trail rounds a promontory and descends Supai ledges south toward the bed of Bass Canyon. Once established in the drainage the route follows the bottom of Bass Canyon through the Redwall. The path leaves the drainage and descends most of the Tonto Group rocks via the slopes east of and above the bed of Bass Canyon, eventually returning to the bottom of the canyon just above the West Tonto Trail junction. The West Tonto Trail is marked by large cairns. Below West Tonto Trail the South Bass Trail continues down Bass Canyon, crossing and re-crossing the drainage as it winds around various obstructions. This section can be confusing, but the trail stays as close to the bed of the canyon as the terrain allows, so any disorientation shouldn't last long.

An impassable rock fall blocks access to the river at the mouth of Bass Canyon. Watch where the trail leaves the bed of the drainage, going west a short distance to a large cairn marking a shortcut that allows passage down a rocky ravine to the river below. The ravine route can be tedious and this shortcut may be bypassed by continuing another couple minutes west until a gentler path descends to the river opposite a historic fireplace.

Hiked this trail?

We need help with the following missing trail information:

Family Friendly, ADA Accessible, Need to Know, Flora & Fauna


Rate This Trail

Rate Quality

   Clear Rating

Rate Difficulty

Share This Trail

Check In


Nov 3, 2017
Matthew Brown
We made this into a 4 day, 3 night backpacking trip w/ day hikes. We saw very few people on the trail & had isolated campsites. 14mi
Mar 16, 2017
Eugene Staley
Great Trip, I loved it. First Grand Canyon trip.

Trail Ratings

  4.7 from 3 votes


in South Rim


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


in South Rim


in Arizona


17 Views Last Month
462 Since May 7, 2015



Wintertime on South Bass Trail.
May 7, 2015 near Grand C…, AZ
Looking North toward the Tonto Plateau and the CO River.
Nov 11, 2017 near Grand C…, AZ
Bass Rapids just down stream of where Bass Canyon meets the Colorado
Nov 11, 2017 near Grand C…, AZ


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

Shop REI Hiking