The North Kaibab Trail: A Scenic Journey into the Grand Canyon’s North Rim

The North Kaibab Trail is a captivating hiking trail that takes adventurers deep into the heart of the Grand Canyon’s North Rim. Offering stunning vistas, diverse landscapes, and a unique perspective of this natural wonder, the trail is a favorite among hikers seeking an unforgettable experience. Let’s delve into the highlights, trail description, safety tips, and other important information about the North Kaibab Trail.

Highlights of the North Kaibab Trail:

  1. Coconino Overlook: Located approximately 1.5 miles (2.4 km) from the trailhead, this overlook offers a mesmerizing view of the Coconino Plateau and the surrounding canyon walls. It’s a fantastic spot to soak in the grandeur of the North Rim.

  2. Supai Tunnel: About 4 miles (6.4 km) from the trailhead, hikers will encounter the Supai Tunnel. This tunnel was hand-carved through the solid rock of the Supai Formation by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s.

  3. Roaring Springs: Situated approximately 4.7 miles (7.6 km) from the trailhead, Roaring Springs is a stunning oasis nestled within the canyon. It serves as a water source and provides a refreshing sight and sound of cascading water amid the arid landscape.

  4. Cottonwood Campground: Located around 6.9 miles (11.1 km) from the trailhead, Cottonwood Campground offers a picturesque resting place and overnight camping option for hikers. It is nestled alongside Bright Angel Creek and provides a serene setting to rejuvenate before continuing the journey.

Trail Description:

The North Kaibab Trail begins near the North Rim’s Grand Canyon Lodge and descends into the canyon, offering breathtaking views and diverse terrain along the way. Unlike the South Kaibab Trail, the North Kaibab Trail has a water source, providing hikers with opportunities to refill their water supplies at various points.

As you descend, the trail takes you through different layers of the canyon’s geologic formations, such as the Kaibab Limestone and the Redwall Limestone. The trail winds along steep switchbacks, offering glimpses of stunning cliffs, colorful rock formations, and the vibrant flora of the canyon.

One of the highlights of the trail is the passage through the Supai Tunnel, an engineering marvel that adds to the adventure of the hike. The descent leads you to Roaring Springs, a natural spring that gushes water year-round, creating a lush and verdant environment within the otherwise arid landscape.

Beyond Roaring Springs, hikers can continue to Cottonwood Campground, a tranquil spot nestled in the cottonwood trees near Bright Angel Creek. From here, the more adventurous can choose to hike further to the North Rim’s iconic destination, the Bright Angel Point, providing panoramic views of the canyon.

Safety Tips:

  1. Plan and prepare: Research the trail, understand the weather conditions, and assess your physical abilities before embarking on the hike. Create a detailed itinerary and inform someone about your plans.

  2. Carry sufficient water: While the North Kaibab Trail has water sources, it’s crucial to carry enough water to sustain you between refill points. Drinking water from natural sources should be filtered or treated.

  3. Dress appropriately: Wear suitable hiking gear, including sturdy footwear, breathable clothing, and a hat. Layer your clothing to adjust to changing temperatures and protect yourself from the sun.

  4. Start early and pace yourself: Begin your hike early in the morning to allow ample time and avoid hiking during the hottest part of the day. Take regular breaks and pace yourself to conserve energy.

  5. Be cautious on steep sections: The trail includes steep switchbacks and exposed sections. Take extra caution, especially during inclement weather or slippery conditions.

  6. Wildlife awareness: The Grand Canyon is home to various wildlife species. Maintain a safe distance and avoid feeding or approaching them. Familiarize yourself with proper wildlife encounter protocols.

  7. Leave no trace: Respect the pristine environment of the Grand Canyon by leaving no trace. Pack out all trash, dispose of waste properly, and follow designated camping and restroom areas.

Permits and Regulations:

A backcountry permit is required for overnight camping along the North Kaibab Trail. Permits can be obtained through the National Park Service and are subject to availability. Check with park rangers for current regulations and guidelines regarding camping and hiking in the Grand Canyon.

The North Kaibab Trail offers an extraordinary opportunity to explore the Grand Canyon’s North Rim, immersing yourself in its natural beauty and captivating landscapes. With proper planning, preparation, and a spirit of adventure, hiking this trail will undoubtedly be an experience to cherish for a lifetime.

Scroll to Top