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Rim to Rim Hike - Grand Canyon National Park

Summary: A long day hike with the crowds and the mules across the Grand Canyon.
Directions: From Flagstaff follow US 180 northwest until you reach the cheesy Flintstone town of Bedrock.  Turn north (right) onto Highway 64 (which is also 180) to the south entrance of the Grand Canyon.
South Kaibab Trailhead: turn right onto Highway 64 (East Rim Drive) where it branches off.  Drive a little over a mile then turn left onto Yaki Point Rd which leads to the trailhead.
Bright Angel Trailhead: continue straight where the East Rim Drive branches to the right.  Drive 3 miles to the Bright Angel Lodge and park.  The trailhead is a couple hundred yards west of the lodge.
Road Conditions: Passenger Car - paved all the way
Navigation: Easy
Length: 20.7 miles ( or 23.5 miles) one way
Date Hiked: October, 1998
Weather Conditions: Cool on the rim, quite warm in the Canyon
Required Skills:
Hike Description: I won't bother to go into detail to describe these three most popular and hiked trails in the Canyon, instead I'll just give some planning advice for those interested in giving this hike a try.  The nice thing about this trek is that only a day pack is needed, enabling you to travel light and cover some miles that would normally require a full pack.  To do this you must book a cabin for a night (about $60 a night) at the Grand Canyon Lodge (801-586-7686) on the north rim.   This should be done well in advance of your trip (the author booked a room 6 months ahead of time).
Note: services on the north rim usually close in late October due to snow.  
With a room and dinner taken care of, you will only need to carry your normal day hiking gear plus two days worth of snacks. 
From the south rim to Phantom Ranch you can take either the Bright Angel Trail (9.5 miles) or the South Kaibab Trail (6.7 miles).  The South Kaibab has slightly fewer people & mules and will cut 2.8 miles from your hike.  There is no water to be found along this route so bring all you will need to make it to the Colorado.   The Bright Angel Trail will add a few miles to an already long hike, but will enable you to get water at Indian Garden Campgrounds at mile 4.5 (which you probably won't need on the way down, but may find useful when coming up on the return trip).  The North Kaibab Trail (14 miles) is your route to the north rim (water is available at Phantom Ranch & Roaring Creek Campground or from one of the creeks you will be hiking beside much of the time).   Once on the north rim a shuttle is available from the trailhead to the lodge, however, it stops around 4:30pm (? call for details).   Unless you start hiking very early or walk very fast, chances are you will miss the shuttle requiring you to hitchhike or walk a few more miles (~ 2 miles) to the lodge.   Get some food at one of the restaurants, get a good nights sleep then hike back the next day.
Rating (1-5 stars):
The author and his wife hiked the South Kaibab Trail - North Kaibab Trail, missed the last shuttle to the lodge on the North Rim so had to hike an additional couple miles.  We stayed in a cabin overnight then caught the first shuttle to the trailhead the next morning and hiked back.  We walked at an unhurried pace taking about 11 hours each way. 
I wish I could give this hike a better rating since the Grand Canyon is such a wonderful place, but I personally found the crowds, trail joggers and mules a constant source of annoyance.  This hike has lead me to vow to avoid the corridor trails at all costs in the future.
Maps: Trails Illustrated - Grand Canyon National Park
Books: 'Hiking the Grand Canyon', John Annerino (Sierra Club Totebook)
Photos: Click picture for larger view, click your browser's 'Back' button to return to this page.
The north rim before
the descent.
Hiking down the North
Kaibab Trail.
Ribbon Falls.