Back to my Grand Canyon page

South Kaibab Trail
South Rim to Phantom Ranch


[Grand Canyon South Kaibab Pale Ale.
(Not available at Phantom Ranch.)]

[Trail (marked in red by the GPS) was traversed from the bottom of the page to the top.]

It's 6:30am at the South Kaibab Trailhead and it's just above freezing, maybe 34F (2C). It's the 5th of September on the busy Labor Day weekend; however, there is almost nobody here at this trailhead. By the time the trail reaches the Colorado River about 4750ft (1450m) below, it will be around 100F (38F). There is no water on this trail but there are two toilet facilities on the way down. I will reach the River in 3 hours. It's a total of 7 miles to Phantom Ranch, across the bridge, a bit beyond the other side of the River.

I carry a total of 6 liters (200oz) of fluid on my Camelbak Mule, separated into two 3-liter (100oz) bladders. (See the separate two drink tubes.) To cope with the estimated 66F (36C) temperature range, I use running shorts and a short-sleeve jersey plus removable arm and leg warmers. Layered on top is a long-sleeve jersey plus a gilet. Added to that is a small fanny pack containing some food. I am carrying enough of everything (in fact, slight overkill here) and will be self-sufficient for the entire trip down and back.

It's hazy and there are deep shadow at this early hour as I begin the descent.
Looking down towards O'Neill Butte. Part of the trail can be seen in the foreground.
To the left of the trail, the South Rim can be seen clearly.
Skeleton Point. The first restroom facility (not shown) is here.
4.4 miles into the trail. We intersect the Tonto trail. There is a dry restroom facility here.
Looking back up the South Kaibab trail. This is the intermediate Tonto plateau.
Spectacular view of the Colorado River at the tipoff. First view of the black suspension bridge. Yep, that's where we're heading.
Looking beyond the tipoff, there is a mule train coming up.
Intersecting the River Trail. A close-up of the black bridge.
On the black bridge above the Colorado River. It has been 3 hours since the top.

I'm already down to my short sleeve jersey and running shorts. (Arm and leg warmers plus gilet and long-sleeve jersey are in my Camelbak Mule.)

In my hands is a photocopy of sections 6 and 7 from the Hiking Grand Canyon National Park book by Ron Adkison, which is too heavy and impractical to carry on the trail.

There is a creek nearby.

Although it is now 95F (35C), I can tell you the water is very cold.

This is the destination This is the reward.

(They had either cold Bud or lukewarm Tecate.)

Wish they had the Grand Canyon South Kaibab Pale Ale shown in an earlier picture.

The way back up? We follow the Bright Angel Trail. Go here.

Back to my Grand Canyon page