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The North Kaibab Trail leads 14 miles southward through Roaring Springs and Bright Angel Canyons to reach the Colorado River.

This trail leads 14 miles one way from the head of Roaring Springs Canyon to the Colorado River. It is the most heavily used rim to river trail on the north rim of the Grand Canyon. There are several developed sites along the route. A picnic area lies at the mouth of Roaring Springs Canyon and two toilets lie en route along this drainage. In Bright Angel Canyon hikers will find Cottonwood Campground, open seasonally, and Bright Angel Campground. The Phantom Ranch site lies close to Bright Angel Campground near the Colorado River. It provides full ranch-style facilities complete with bunkhouse accommodations and a yearlong waiting list.

Begin your hike from the North Kaibab parking area approximately 11 miles south of the North Entrance Station to Grand Canyon National Park. The route leaves the southern side of the parking area and descends steeply through Roaring Springs Canyon. The trail switches back crossing the stream several times before reaching Supai Tunnel, where you'll find restrooms.

The descent continues along Roaring Springs Canyon. From the Supai Tunnel the trail crosses the stream and parallels the western bank of the drainage for approximately one mile, before beginning the second series of switchbacks. These switchbacks end at the mouth of Roaring Springs Canyon, where it empties into Bright Angel Canyon. A picnic area with restrooms and drinking water lie at this confluence.

The North Kaibab Trail leads to the right at this confluence entering Bright Angel Canyon. Hiking left or up stream from this confluence will put you on the Old Kaibab Trail. This route was used in the early tourist days of the Grand Canyon. It is no longer maintained by the park service and would make an interesting trip for individuals who want to test their route finding skills.

The confluence of Bright Angel Canyon and Roaring Springs Canyon lies almost five miles from the trailhead. From this point the grade of the route lessens considerably. The trail descends close to 3,500 feet in Roaring Springs Canyon and another 2,000 feet through Bright Angel Canyon.

The North Kaibab Trail crosses Bright Angel Creek and parallels the eastern bank of the waterway for the next nine miles to the Colorado River. Approximately one half mile after entering Bright Angel Canyon the trail passes the mouth of Manzanita Creek. A mile and a half beyond this creek crossing the route reaches Cottonwood Campground. This site lies at 4,000 feet slightly north of the mouth of Wall Creek. At this facility you'll find drinking water, toilets, campsites and an emergency phone.

Walking downstream from Cottonwood Campground the you'll cross Wall Creek and two other small drainages before reaching the spur trail to Ribbon Falls. A footbridge crossing Bright Angel Creek leads to a short spur trail and Ribbon Falls.

Continuing along the main route the path leads through Bright Angel Canyon as it becomes increasingly more narrow with steeper walls. Immediately before reaching Bright Angel Campground and Phantom Ranch the route passes through a deep gorge along Bright Angel Creek. This area is known as The Box. Within The Box the Clear Creek Trail forks to the left leading eastward on a platform above the river. Shortly after the end of the narrows the track make a sweeping turn eastward along the Colorado River to Phantom Ranch. Fourteen miles from the trailhead the North Kaibab Trail reaches the Kaibab suspension bridge.

Directions: From North Rim Entrance, Drive southward along North Rim Drive to the North Kaibab Trailhead. Turn left into the parking area and locate the trailhead on the southern side of the lot.

Elevation: 8,200 feet

Ending Elevation: 2,480 feet

Usage: Heavy

Difficulty: Strenuous

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Expert Review of North Kaibab Trail

Active and Adventure Review of North Kaibab Trail

Away Travel Expert: Bill Weir
expert favorite Active Expert Favorite
ActiveExpert Rating 5.0 out of 5 Recommended for:
Camping,Canyoneering,Day Hiking,Horseback Riding,Trekking and Backpacking
Active and AdventureExpert Tips & Helpful Hints
  • Day hike options from the North Rim include Coconino Overlook (1.5 miles roundtrip with a 500-foot elevation change), Supai Tunnel (3.6 miles roundtrip with a 1,415-foot elevation change), and Roaring Springs (10 miles roundtrip with a 3,055-foot elevation change).
  • Ribbon Falls pours into a miniature paradise of travertine and lush greenery. It's tucked in a side canyon 1.5 miles from Cottonwood Campground.
  • Clear Creek Trail turns off 0.3 mile north of Phantom Ranch and climbs up to the North Rim's equivalent of the Tonto Trail, then curves around to Clear Creek, where you can camp, in nine miles one way. Clear Creek can be followed all the way down to the Colorado River and far upstream; there's much to discover.

Grand Canyon North Rim
Grand Canyon National Park, P.O. Box 129
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona 86023

Visitor Information

Telephone Number: 928-638-7875 (Backcountry Information Center, 1-5 p.m. Mon.-Fri.)
Fax: 928-638-2125
Transportation: car
Neighborhood: Grand Canyon National Park
The details, dates, and prices mentioned here were accurate at the time of publication.

Review by Wildernet Copyright © 2010 all rights reserved.