North Kaibab

The North Kaibab Trail is the least visited but most difficult of the three maintained trails at Grand Canyon National Park

photo: Ribbon Falls on the North Kaibab Trail Type: Backcountry
Length: 14.20 miles
Loop Trail? No
Allowed Uses: Equestrian - Riding
Equestrian - Pack trips
Equestrian - Other stock
Pedestrian - Walking/Hiking/Running
Agency: National Park Service
Entry Fee? No
Parking Fee? No

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Directions

Location: At Grand Canyon Nat. Park, links North Rim Visitor Ctr. down to Colorado R.
States: Arizona
Counties: Coconino
Latitude: 36.21709   Longitude: -112.05665

North Rim is 44 miles south of Jacob Lake, via highway 67.

Description

Resembling the Bright Angel Trail more than the South Kaibab Trail, the North Kaibab initially descends
steeply down the head of a valley via a series of numerous switchbacks. After the lush verdancy and
impressive views below the trailhead, the trail reaches the distinctive Supai Tunnel, where hikers will find
potable water (mid-May to mid-October) and pit toilets, but no emergency phone. Switchbacks continue to
the massive cliffs of Redwall Limestone, where for long stretches the trail has been blasted out of the cliff
in a half tunnel. The Redwall section is awe-inspiring in every way; fantastic exposure and views mingle
with a reminiscence of an age when engineering marvels were commonplace.

Where the bulk of the trail's descent meets the flatter bottom of Bright Angel Canyon, Roaring Springs is a
worthwhile side trip. Here, water gushes forth directly out of the cliffs, cascading over moss and fern to
form Bright Angel Creek (which will be a constant companion all the way to the Colorado River). This
giant spring provides drinking water for every visitor and resident within Grand Canyon National Park. The
water is delivered to the South Rim via a pipeline buried beneath the North Kaibab Trail (installed 1965-
1970). You can see this amazing pipeline as it stretches across the Colorado River on the underside of
the Bright Angel Trail's Silver Bridge.

At mile 5.4 an unexpected house comes into view. The Pumphouse Residence, also known as the Aiken
Residence, is where artist and park employee Bruce Aiken lived and painted for decades. In years past
the lucky hiker could get a refreshing cup of lemonade from one of the Aiken kids who were raised at the
bottom of the Grand Canyon. Passing the Pumphouse Residence is a welcome sign for the descending
backpacker for it signals the approach of Cottonwood Campground. Those fortunate to overnight at
Cottonwood Campground will have the time to explore a beautiful oasis located 1.6 miles down-creek
from the campground: Ribbon Falls is a true gem of the North Kaibab Trail. The waterfall is located in a
grotto on the west side of Bright Angel Creek, so reaching it is a short but extremely rewarding side trip.
Hikers caught in the heat of the day should consider taking a siesta here from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Between Cottonwood Campground and Bright Angel Campground the trail enters the Inner Gorge, a
narrow canyon within the canyon where the trail is boxed in on either side by 1.7 billion year old Vishnu
Schist (the contact between the top of the Vishnu Schist and the overlying Tapeats Sandstone marks the
Great Unconformity where over 1 billion years of geology is missing). Though the trail here is not
challenging from the perspective of elevation profile, be aware that this is a particularly dangerous stretch
of trail during summer months. Because the entire 7.2 mile stretch is at low elevation, it becomes
extremely hot from early morning to late afternoon. The gorge of black rock through which the trail passes
becomes like an oven and can be compared to walking through a parking lot in Phoenix or Las Vegas in
summertime. Always plan on reaching Bright Angel Campground before ten in the morning.

Additional Details

Width: 48 inches.
Primary Surface: Not Available
Secondary Surface: None
Average Grade: 0%
Elevation Low Point: Not Available
Elevation High Point: Not Available
Year Designated: 1981

Supporting Webpages and Documents

Website: National Park Service - trail details

Contact Information

For more information and current conditions, contact the trail manager (listed below). For questions, suggestions, and corrections to information listed on the website, contact American Trails.

Trail Management:
Grand Canyon National Park
P.O. Box 129
Grand Canyon , AZ 86023
(520) 638-9734 ext. 2

 

Photos

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