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AZT - Passage 38 - South Kaibab

 4.9 (73)

Unparalleled panoramic views coupled with a truly dramatic ridgeline descent.

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Point to Point

7,206' 2,196 m


2,456' 749 m


133' 40 m


4,883' 1,488 m



Avg Grade (8°)


Max Grade (23°)

Dogs No Dogs

Features Birding · River/Creek · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife

For hikers who insist on entering the canyon from May to September, it is critical to begin hiking well before dawn or in the late afternoon: Success depends upon staying off the trail between 10 in the morning and 3 in the afternoon (average descent time is 4 to 6 hours). Failure to arrive at Bright Angel Campground by 10 in the morning during hot weather can result in ill health or even death; at the very least, it will be a miserable experience.

Section Of


This trail is the first section of the AZT - Passage 38 - Grand Canyon - Inner Gorge.

When camping at Bright Angel Campground, many hikers prefer to hike down the South Kaibab Trail and up the Bright Angel Trail. Though the South Kaibab Trail has an almost identical maximum grade compared to the Bright Angel, it is more consistently sloped but does not have water or shade. The hike down South Kaibab Trail typically takes 4-6 hours.

The trail begins with a series of tight switchbacks. This is where ice will most likely be encountered during the winter months. After these initial switchbacks, the trail traverses below Yaki Point to the aptly named Ooh Ah Point (the first panoramic view of the canyon). From Ooh Ah Point on, the trail follows the top of a ridgeline and is consequently without shade. Several broad and steeply-plunging switchbacks later, hikers reach Cedar Ridge. There are pit toilets at Cedar Ridge, but no water or emergency phone.

From Cedar Ridge, the South Kaibab Trail traverses below O'Neill Butte without a single switchback to Skeleton Point. At three miles from the rim, Skeleton Point is the maximum distance recommended for a day hike. The trail goes directly off the end of Skeleton Point and here, where the trail has been blasted directly out of the limestone cliffs, hikers will encounter the most dramatic sense of exposure. The trail descends rapidly via a series of switchbacks to the Tonto Platform and Tipoff. There are pit toilets and an emergency phone at Tipoff, but no water. For hikers who will be utilizing the East Tonto Trail to the east or west, the intersection is located fifty feet or so up-trail from the pit toilets.

Below Tipoff, the South Kaibab Trail loosely follows the course of an earlier trail called the Cable Trail (built in 1907 to accommodate access to the old cable car system across the river that existed before construction of the present suspension bridge). Vestiges of this earlier trail can be seen as the South Kaibab Trail descends toward the Colorado River. Access to Bright Angel Campground is via the black bridge (built in 1921).


Shared By:

Nicholas Shannon

Trail Ratings

  4.9 from 73 votes


in South Rim


  4.9 from 73 votes
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55 Views Last Month
7,647 Since May 7, 2015



Beautiful view.
May 12, 2016 near Grand C…, AZ
Soak up the stellar Grand Canyon views from Cedar Ridge off the South Kaibab Trail.
Mar 31, 2017 near Grand C…, AZ
View from the trail
Nov 23, 2022 near Grand C…, AZ
View over the Colorado River heading down South Kaibab
Apr 17, 2015 near Grand C…, AZ
Mormon Flats: South Kaibab Trail
May 12, 2015 near Grand C…, AZ
Looking down at the switchbacks on South Kaibab
May 11, 2015 near Grand C…, AZ


Current Trail Conditions

All Clear 66 days ago
Add Your Check-In


Jan 11, 2023
Eric Litteer
Big steps 6.6mi
Nov 22, 2022
Stewart Carnes
South Kaibab Trail down to Skeleton Point
Jun 7, 2022
Cameron Booth
South Kaibab Trailhead to the Tipoff, thence onto westbound Tonto Trail to Indian Garden. 4.9mi — 3h 10m
May 28, 2022
Gary Walker
We left phx at 3:00. Parked at the visitor center and took the orange shuttle to trailhead. Started hiking at 7:30. Got to boat beach around 12 — 5h 30m
May 16, 2022
Liam Jackson
Down to cedar point and back 3mi
Apr 5, 2022
Josh Smith
went to tip off point and back up 4.5mi — 5h 00m
Apr 3, 2022
Gary Ryan
To Ooh Aah and back. 3mi
Mar 21, 2022
Kohen Daniels
6mi — 2h 45m