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Grand Canyon National Park: Rim-to-Rim via North Kaibab Trail

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Distance: 20.9 miles


Link the Grand Canyon's north and south rim on this challenging 21-mile trek through two rugged canyons, offering cliffside views and scenic side trips.

From the North Kaibab Trailhead on the North Rim, follow countless, snaking switchbacks into the belly of the Grand Canyon. As you descend along the cliffside, look to the south for views of the San Francisco Peaks rising behind the flat-topped mesa walls. After 1.5 miles, the trail travels through the Supai Tunnel—a 20-foot-long hole-in-the-rock wall—then enters Bright Angel Canyon at mile 4.1. Resthouses offering shade, water and emergency telephones are spaced in 1.5-mile intervals along the trail. After passing the Pumphouse Residence at mile 4.8, the route continues southwest through Bright Angel Canyon, crisscrossing Bright Angel Creek numerous times, and crossing the Colorado River on a suspension bridge. Indian Gardens, a small oasis on the canyon floor, appears after 17.5 miles. The final 2.5 miles follow zigzagging switchbacks back up the canyon wall to the South Rim and the Bright Angel Trailhead.

Caution: Summer temperatures can soar into the 100s so always carry water, and start early to beat the midday heat. Also, don't forget it is much easier to descend into the canyon than climb back up. Expect to spend at least double the amount of time climbing than descending.

For more information, go to the Grand Canyon National Park Web site: Backcountry Hiking and Getting Around.

-Mapped by Trung Q. Le

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