Hike the South Kaibab Trail to Tip Off

9 miles 5000 ft gain  - Out-and-Back Trail

Added by Benny Barrett

90% of the 5 million+ visitors to the Grand Canyon each year go no farther than the South Rim's fenced viewing area. We did't stop there, and you shouldn't either.

The late Fall turned out to be the perfect time to visit the Grand Canyon. You still run into a number of people tripping over rocks with selfie sticks, but we had no trouble finding peace and serenity on distant overlooks and throughout the trails. 

We arrived around 4 pm on a Saturday after 21 hours of driving and a stop for a quick nap in Amarillo, TX. After taking in the incredible, sweeping views until the sun told us we had to quit, we walked through the main visitor area where we could read the maps and signs to plan out our next day. 

If you are planning a hike at the Grand Canyon, one thing is clear. Prepare to hike down. Typically, we fight to the summit, take it all in, and then reminisce on the easy trek down. Here at the Canyon, however, you take in the views on the easy hike down, only to eat lunch, and proceed the only way there is, UP for nearly 5 miles.

The South Kaibab Trailhead is a short (free) shuttle bus down the road from the Visitor Center.  From there, you head down .9 miles to Ohh Ahh Point. Accurate, many stop here. Most continue on another mile down the meandering switchbacks to Cedar Ridge. Most of the day hikers are pulling up for lunch, and using the bathroom before heading back up. A respectable days work, but it was only 9 am and I was looking to earn my dinner and that bottle of Jack hidden in my duffel bag.. 

We asked somebody to take our picture, then headed on down another mile/mile and a half to Skeleton Point. This was our original stopping point. 6 miles round trip seemed like a good stopping point, but we felt good, had water and trail mix and decided to continue. On to TIP OFF - the last point before heading to the Colorado River.

By now it is warm, there are far less people on the trail, and we slowed it down to take it all in. The trail map suggests not to travel to Tip Off for a day hike. It states that if you do, it is 4.4 miles down, then 4.4 back up, estimating 6-9 hours to complete. We probably got down in a little over two hours, and it easily took double that to get back to the top! We figure we spent about 6-7 hours on the trail, an overwhelmingly gorgeous, while strenuous hike that was worth every minute.

We got back and took the shuttle back to our car that was parked by the visitor center. A quick drive down the road to Mather Campground and we were "home". For your beginner and intermediate hikers, we would recommend taking your time and hiking to Cedar Ridge and back. If you are feeling like more of a challenge to add to your experience - Skeleton and Tip Off are worth it.

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🥇Top Contributor

4 months ago

south kaibab grand canyon

This was alittle hard going as the day was hot and no water available except your own. Enjoyed the burro and horse trains on the trail and views of phantom ranch near the bottom and river. Felt like the southwest desert!

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