North Kaibab Trail Description
(A good beginner hike for Backpacking and Day hiking Grand Canyon)
All-Star Grand Canyon Tours leads private hiking and backpacking tours in Grand Canyon, one of the hardest places in the world to hike; we design backpacking & day-hiking trips that are best suited for your family or group. The only maintained trail that goes into the Grand Canyon from the north rim is the North Kaibab Trail. All-Star Grand Canyon Tours considers the North Kaibab trail an "easier trail" because it is maintained. It takes 14 miles to hike from the trailhead to Bright Angel Campground located near the Colorado River. All-Star Grand Canyon Tours recommends when hiking to the Colorado river, to take two days, spending the night at Cottonwood Campground; roughly halfway to the river. While hiking the Kaibab trail with your guide, you pass through several diverse ecosystems. The trailhead on the rim of the canyon stands at 8,241 feet above sea level and the forest is very similar to forests found in Canada; Douglas Fir, Blue Spruce, Ponderosa Pine, and Aspen. At the Colorado River the environment is very similar to the Sonoran Desert; agave plants, yuccas, and cactus. Along the trail there are spots to refill water, and toilets are at key locations along the trail.
History of the North Kaibab Trail:
The North Kaibab Trail as we know it was created by the National Park Service. Prior to construction portions of the area had trails created by Native Americans, hunting guides, and cattlemen. The first record of people hiking from the North Rim to the Colorado River on what was to be the North Kaibab Trail was 1902 by Francois Matthes and his party of cartographers and geologists. In 1906, David Rust, became the first tourism operator on the North Rim. He would send stock and tourists down the trail to the Colorado River. Once at the river they could cross either in a cable car, or ferried across the river by boat. At that time hiking rim to rim in the Grand Canyon was still not a common hike. Once the South Kaibab Traill was completed in the 1920's the National Park Service decided to create a trail to connect North and South Rims. The Park Service believed creating the trail would attract more tourists and compete with Ralph Cameron's privately controlled Bright Angel Trail. Now there are two bridges that connect the North Kaibab Trail with the South Rim creating trans-canyon routes. The first bridge is the "Black Bridge" completed in 1928, and the second the "Silver Bridge" completed in the late 1960's. The "Black Bridge" connects with the South Kaibab Traill, while the "Silver Bridge" connects with the Bright Angel Trail via the River Trail. These bridges make it possible for inexperienced hikers to backpack from Rim to Rim in Grand Canyon with a guide.
Mileages are as follows (one-way)
- Coconino Overlook- 0.7 miles
- Supai Tunnel - 2.0 miles
- Roaring Springs - 4.7 miles
- Cottonwood Camp - 6.9 miles
- Ribbon Falls - 8.4 miles
- Phantom Ranch - 14 miles
- Bright Angel Campground - 14.5 miles.
- Rim - 8,241 feet
- Roaring Springs - 4,800 feet
- Cottonwood Camp - 4,000 feet
- Colorado River - 2,425 feet
Pro's and Con's of Hiking/ Backpacking the North Kaibab Trail
- Well developed and maintained trail with bathroom facilities conveniently located along the trail.
- Plenty of places to refill water
- Developed Campgrounds
- Well traveled trail with more park rangers and emergency crew than other remote trails
- Hike can be mule supported
- Phantom Ranch has meals and beverages that can be enjoyed..... even alcoholic beverages such as beer and wine
- Great family hike
- Good beginner hike
- For those not interested in camping, cabins and dormitories are available.
- Can be part of a Rim to Rim Hike
- When Backpacking or hiking Grand Canyon with All-Star Grand Canyon Tours, you have the best private guides in the Four Corners Region.
- Can be crowded
- Campgrounds can be loud
- Closed from November - May
- Hard to get permit dates for this trail
- Mule Traffic