Last week I received this actual question from a friend and former colleague in Denver:
I am hiking to the bottom of the Grand Canyon with my family in mid-May. Have you done that hike? If so, any advice? We are staying one night at the bottom and then hiking back up.
Here’s my response:
Yes, I’ve done it twice – minus the overnight stay. That’s a good time of year to do it. Here are my key tips for this hike:
- pack light
- hydrate like crazy
- break your shoes and socks in well in advance
- poles help big time
- sleeves of Ritz crackers or Pringles will be your friend
- best to get a super early start up Bright Angel as the first 3 miles are brutal in the heat
- bring a small towel so you can dip your feet off in the creek(s) to cool off
There are so many posts on the web about how to do this hike. In my opinion, people have over analyzed it. I believe my tips above, from one friend to another, are simple enough for anyone to follow.
Overview of the hike down South Kaibab Trail to Phantom Ranch and up Bright Trail
- South Kaibab/Phantom Ranch/Bright Angel Trail Loop is a 17.4 mile (28 km) heavily trafficked point-to-point trail located in Grand Canyon, Arizona
- Elevation gain is 5,071 feet (1 – 1/2 km)
- Rated as difficult
- The trail is best used from October to May
- There is no drinkable water on South Kaibab but plenty at Phantom Ranch and on Bright Angel Trail
- No permit required to hike it; only if you’re camping overnight in Bright Angel or Indian Garden campground
- Advance reservations required for lodging at Phantom Ranch
Below is what the hike looks like from an aerial view. The green dot in the lower right of the image is the starting point on South Kaibab and the black dot in the lower left is the end point.
For trail conditions and additional details, check the official Grand Canyon website.
Want to see more pics and read others’ descriptions of the hike? Check out alltrails.com.
I remember reading and researching this hike like crazy before my first attempt. I quickly became overwhelmed with all the advice out there. If you’re in decent shape, it’s not that bad. Don’t make it worse than it is.
Questions? Thoughts? Let me hear them in the comment box. We’re all friends here. 🙂