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Grand Canyon Pointers

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Grand Canyon Pointers

Postby beaudittl » Wed Dec 15, 2010 5:30 pm

Hey all, I'm planning a trip out west this summer and the plan is to hike rim to rim in the Grand Canyon. I have done a ton of hiking, however, I'm from New York; the Canyon is a totally different animal than the ADKs. With that said, I was just curious if anyone could offer any helpful advice-gear, trails, etc etc. Any info is appreciated! Merry Christmas and Happy Trails! Cheers!
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Re: Grand Canyon Pointers

Postby splattski » Wed Dec 15, 2010 7:07 pm

We did the R2R2R last September. Cool hike. Trip report:

My random tips:
Wear shoes with a bit more protection than runners or approach shoes.
Go early or late in the year- take all the heat warnings seriously. We were hiking uphill in temps over 100°.
I'd do North Kaibab/South Kaibab (or the other direction). Too many people on Bright Angel.

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Re: Grand Canyon Pointers

Postby beaudittl » Wed Dec 15, 2010 8:17 pm

Well all of that is awesome everyone...thanks! And as for the time frame, you're suggestion about May is just what I was planning/wanted to hear haha. I'm more of a cold weather fan, and so is my cousin that's coming with me...that'll be just what I need to convince her! Thanks again everyone!
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Re: Grand Canyon Pointers

Postby Day Hiker » Thu Dec 16, 2010 8:16 am

splattski wrote:We were hiking uphill in temps over 100°.

I once got in a little conversation with a ranger (or ranger trainee, or who knows) as I was heading downhill on the Bright Angel trail on a rim-to-rim hike. It was about noon, and the guy said, "OMFG, WTF, you guys are starting way too late," referring to the fact that they advise avoiding the midday sun. That may be good advice for the general case, but it fails to acknowledge the fact that people are able to and do hike rim to rim in the summer.

What's the other option? Starting early? I also do this, and I'm also fine with it, but this puts you on the uphill during midday. Our late-start itinerary put us on the uphill in the late afternoon and evening, so we would be in shade, which is definitely no worse than hiking uphill in the sun. There was no convincing this guy, though.

Keep in mind that I had done 20 summer rim-to-rim hikes and over 40 rim-river-rim dayhikes at that point.

1000Pks wrote:any comfortable foot wear will be fine, this is a well worked upon trail!

Exactly. Wear whatever you prefer to hike 20+ miles in. Running shoes are just fine; that's what I wear.

MoapaPk wrote:the N rim access may not open till mid May.

Definitely will not. It's 15 May every year. http://www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/directions_n_rim.htm#CP_JUMP_167594


For the rim-to-rim hike discussed here, you basically have two choices of trail on the south side (Bright Angel or South Kaibab) and one trail on the north side (North Kaibab). All three connect at the bottom. Schematically, picture an inverted "Y."

You want to avoid going up the South Kaibab during the summer months because it has no water. The Bright Angel and North Kaibab trails have water. So, if you're going north to south, you should plan to take the North Kaibab to the Bright Angel trail. If you're going south to north, you can take either the South Kaibab or Bright Angel to the North Kaibab.

Most people going South Rim to North Rim take the South Kaibab, presumably because it's a couple miles shorter, and they're looking for the easy way out. Cheaters. :lol: I prefer the Bright Angel because many of my rim-to-rim hikes have been as part of a two-way trip, and I prefer to take the same path in both directions, so I can avoid having to deal with catching shuttle buses between trailheads (and I won't go up the South Kaibab in summer because of the water issue).

Note that for your trip in May, the heat is generally not as much of an issue as it is in mid summer. Going up the South Kaibab might be reasonable, depending on the weather. But until you are familiar with hiking in GC at least once, I would recommend against it, especially if it's in late May. Again, if you're going one-way south to north, the South Kaibab is fine because you can easily carry enough water to do it downhill.

As hot as it may be in the inner canyon, make sure you bring warm clothing. I have seen it in the 30s at the North Kaibab trailhead at night in June. Note that they show the average low in May to be 34F. Because it's canyon hiking, if for some reason you are too exhausted to keep warm by moving uphill, you can't just retreat back to the trailhead by going downhill.

For an overnight camping trip, you will need a permit, and they may be hard to come by. I'm not sure; I've never camped there. I have always done non-camping hikes in Grand Canyon (hence "Day Hiker"). For a dayhike, you do not need a permit. For an overnight hike, you also do not. You just cannot set up camp without a permit.


North Kaibab TH: ~8250 ft
South Kaibab TH: ~7200 ft
Bright Angel TH: ~6850 ft
Colorado River at the bridge crossings: ~2450 ft

Trans-canyon via Bright Angel and North Kaibab: ~23.4 miles, ~4850 feet of loss, ~6250 feet of gain.
Trans-canyon via South Kaibab and North Kaibab: ~21.0 miles, ~5000 feet of loss, ~6050 feet of gain.
Of these above mileages, the North Kaibab is about 14.4.

Water (all on tap, except as noted):

South Kaibab trail: absolutely none.

Bright Angel trail:
1.5-mile rest house.
3-mile rest house.
Indian Gardens (~4.5 mi below the rim).
Below I.G., in a few places, the trail has access to Garden Creek and Pipe Creek. But note that there is a long hot stretch between Phantom Ranch and I.G.

North Kaibab trail:
In a couple places at the junction where the three trails meet at the bottom.
Phantom Ranch. FILL UP HERE. It is over 7 hot miles from Phantom to Cottonwood.
Creek water at Wall Creek (~7.5 mi below the rim).
Cottonwood Campground (~6.7 mi below the rim).
Bruce Aiken's former house (~5.3 mi below the rim). DEFINITELY FILL UP HERE, if heading northbound.
Supai Tunnel (~1.8 mi below the rim).

In the roughly 9 miles between the Colorado River and Bruce's house, the North Kaibab trail follows Bright Angel Creek and has several access points to it, if you need to cool off. Above Bruce's house, the only water is at Supai Tunnel; there is no creek.

If you fill up at the right places, you can get by without carrying a filter. Except for emergency, I would not drink unfiltered water from the Colorado River or the creeks near those trails. Too many mules and people around those parts.
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Re: Grand Canyon Pointers

Postby seano » Wed Dec 22, 2010 2:32 am

Were you then thinking of shuttling back to the other rim? If you have a bit more time, you can go south-to-sorth, send a bag via shuttle, stay over at the north rim, then go back N-S. I haven't done this before, but it seems like a nice option if you don't want to go back and forth in one day.

Water isn't really an issue: there are spigots at Phantom Ranch, Cottonwood, Roaring Springs, and (if you use the south Kaibab (EDIT: Bright Angel)) Indian Gardens. When I did a back-and-forth last October, I figured I needed no more than 1.5-2L water between spigots. The longest stretch is either from Roaring Springs to the north rim or from Phantom Ranch to Cottonwood, so you can calculate your water needs based on those distances.

The heat is mainly an issue between just below Ribbon Falls and the redwall above Roaring Springs on the north side, so try to avoid that stretch mid-day.

The trail is well-maintained, so you can easily do it in running shoes if you are used to them, and possibly save yourself a lot of time by jogging the downhill.
Last edited by seano on Wed Dec 22, 2010 3:33 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Grand Canyon Pointers

Postby seano » Wed Dec 22, 2010 3:32 am

MoapaPk wrote:
seano wrote: Springs, and (if you use the south Kaibab) Indian Gardens.

??? Indian Gardens isn't on the S Kaibab.

Sorry, I should have re-read that before posting -- it should say "Bright Angel."
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