The maintained South Kaibab is one of the park's prettiest trails, combining stunning scenery and unobstructed 360-degree views with every step. Steep, rough and wholly exposed, this ridgeline descent plummets 4470ft along 6.4 miles to the Colorado River; from here, it is .5 miles to Bright Angel Campground. Rangers warn against all but the shortest day hikes during the summer.
The shortest is 0.9 miles to Ooh Aah Point, a popular marked turnaround, but if you continue just a few minutes' more you'll find a fantastic wide and flat stone outcrop that makes a perfect spot to relax with a snack before tackling the return trek to the rim. For a longer day hike, head to Cedar Ridge, 1.5 miles from the rim, a large, flat, red dirt expanse with pit toilets, or to Skeleton Point, 3 miles from the rim. Expansive cliff-top views include the Bright Angel Trail and a wide swath of the Colorado River.
Only hikers with a backcountry camping permit or reservations at Phantom Ranch should continue along the trail from Skeleton Point. From here, switchback after switchback cut through the sandstone to the relatively flat desert of Tonto Platform, where the trail intersects with the 95-mile horizontal Tonto Trail that leads 4.6 miles west to Indian Garden. A compost toilet sits at the trail junction. From Skeleton Point, the South Kaibab plummets 1330ft in 1.6 miles to the Tipoff, where another series of switchbacks lead to the River Trail and the Kaibab Suspension Bridge. Cross the Colorado River on the suspension bridge, and continue another 0.5 miles to Bright Angel Campground.
Less crowded than the South Rim's sister corridor trail, the Bright Angel, the South Kaibab is still a busy corridor trail and mule trains ascend daily. There is a water-filling station at the trailhead from early May to mid-October and year-round potable water at Bright Angel Campground 7 miles below the rim and across the Colorado River, but do not depend on it. Regular and increasingly frequent water pipe breaks shut water down, and there are no other sources near the trailhead or along the trail. Camping is not allowed anywhere along the South Kaibab.
There is no parking at the trailhead. You must walk or ride a bicycle from Grand Canyon Village via the Rim Trail, or take the park shuttle or Hikers' Express Bus.