ElevationAscent: 10,919' 3,328 m
Descent: -10,919' -3,328 m
High: 8,178' 2,493 m
Low: 2,454' 748 m
GradeAvg Grade: 9% (5°)
Max Grade: 61% (31°)
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“Hike across one of the Seven Wonders of the World... TWICE!”— Cyndi Wyatt
The unique aspect of crossing the Grand Canyon is that you first descend 9 miles, then hike across the floor for 7 miles, before hitting the steepest part of the North Kaibab Trail where you'll climb 7 miles up a 15% - 20% grade. Pacing yourself is the key to finishing R2R2R.
The views in the canyon as the sun kisses the walls change with every hour. Take your time to enjoy all that the Grand Canyon has to offer.
Make time to visit Ribbon Falls just off the North Kaibab Trail. Take a dip but don't stay too long as you have a long day ahead of you. The falls are about a mile off the trail. Take the bridge exit off of the trail to get there.
The trail is about the width of 1/2 a fire road and is very technical with big exposed drop-offs. There are big steps (depending on your height), and the puddles of mule pee are wide spread so watch you step and don't face plant.
Watch the weather. During this trek, we were caught in a flash flood and experienced lightning, rock slides, and crossed 7 muddy, fast, rushing (new) streams.
Descend the Bright Angel Trail to the Colorado River, through Bright Angel Campground, and then head up the North Kaibab Trail.
Views on the Bright Angel Trail are framed by massive cliffs. The majority of this trails elevation change takes place in the upper four miles of trail via a series of switchbacks that can seem endless. Be sure to utilize the resthouses and seasonal water sources along the way (there are composting toilets at Mile-and-a-Half Resthouse, but no toilets at Three-Mile Resthouse).
Approaching Indian Garden, the trail flattens out considerably as it crosses the shaley and desolate Tonto Platform. Indian Garden is an oasis in the canyon that was used by Native Americans up to modern times. Below Indian Garden, the trail follows a creek through a meandering gully of water sculpted stone and shimmering cottonwood trees. The trail becomes steep once again where this gully empties into the broad, bowl-shaped Pipe Creek drainage. This section of trail, affectionately referred to as the Devils Corkscrew, is brutally hot during the summer months and should therefore only be attempted during the early morning or late evening hours.
There are no potable water sources between Indian Garden and Bright Angel Campground. A composting toilet is located near the River Resthouse. From the Pipe Creek/River Resthouse area to Bright Angel Campground, the trail traverses exposed sand dunes for over a mile until reaching the silver bridge across the Colorado River. From here head cross the Silver Bridge and start on the North Kaibab Trail.
The North Kaibab Trail is the first challenging ascent as you'll climb 7 miles up a 15% - 20% grade. Pacing yourself is the key to finishing R2R2R. Along the North Kaibab trail you have the option to take a short spur trail to Ribbon Falls or Roaring Springs.
Now you are at the half way mark! Go back and cross the same way that you came.
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Land Manager: National Park Service - Grand Canyon National Park