South Kaibab Trail

  • Highlights: Amazing views, rock formations, Grand Canyon
  • Distance: up to 6 miles out and back
  • Elevation change: up to 2,000 feet
  • Difficulty level: Very strenuous
  • Trailhead Parking: South Kaibob Trailhead, park shuttle access only
  • Website: Grand Canyon National Park
  • Beer Pairings: Grand Canyon Brewing Pilsner & Mother Road Brewing Tower Station IPA

The Hike:

We recently posted a hike in Breaks Interstate Park, which is called “the Grand Canyon of the South”. While the views at Breaks are impressive, the marketing department took some poetic license using the name “Grand Canyon”. We thought it appropriate to include a hike to the real Grand Canyon.

In 2012, we took our younger daughter Rachel on a western trip to visit National Parks in Arizona and Utah. We spent several days on the south rim of the Grand Canyon at the El Tovar Lodge and this hike into the Grand Canyon was one of our favorites.

Water is available at the trailhead and each hiker should bring plenty of water on this hike. High protein, salty snacks are also recommended. The trail goes all the way to the river; however, it is not recommended to hike more than 3 miles down the canyon on a day hike. The hike back up is very steep and normally takes twice as long to return to the trail head. 

We started very early in the morning in June to avoid the hot afternoon sun. There is little shade on this trail. Switchbacks and steps help hikers navigate the steep sections of the trail. At .9 miles and 600’ down into the canyon, reach Ooh-Aah Point. The name says it all. Great views abound.

At 1.5 miles and 1,140 feet is Cedar Ridge. Rest rooms are located here and many hikers turn around at this point and begin the steep hike back to the trailhead. The Park service now recommends day hikers in the summer months not go any further than this point.

Skelton Point at 3 miles and 2,060’ has the first views of the Colorado River and the return from this point is a very strenuous 2,000’ climb of three miles back to the trail head. Regardless of how far down you go, take time to enjoy the views and drink plenty of water.

Hike Photos:

Click on an image below for an enlarged view.

Beer Pairing:

After a great hike and a refreshing shower, head to the El Tovar Lounge for a post-hike beer. The small veranda directly outside of the lounge has spectacular views and a decent selection of craft beer. They also serve food. The draft beer list changes, but two excellent options are Grand Canyon Brewing Pilsner and Mother Road Brewing Tower Station IPA. Enjoy your beer as you take in the fantastic views of the Grand Canyon.

Hike and drink responsibly. Never drink and drive. Stay safe and be responsible.