The South Kaibab Trail in Grand Canyon walks rim to rim, and would be grueling for even the best hiker. However, many people hike as far as Ooh-Aah Point before turning around and heading back up to the South Rim. This hike is doable for kids and relatively safe, unlike the more precipitous Bright Angel Trail.
South Kaibab Trail begins at the South Kaibab trailhead on the Yaki Point Road and starts immediately down. It is steep, and there are several severe switchbacks right at first. But if you hike in the morning, there is significant shade, and if you had an accident and went over the edge, you’d survive with injuries (I mention this because that’s not true at Bright Angel.)
After the switchbacks, the trail levels out a little and traverses a long promontory into the canyon. The total distance to Ooh-Aah Point, which has a sign, is just under a mile. The mile down is fast and easy, but the hike out takes about twice as long and brings the total distance to around 1.8 miles. If you take it slowly up to the rim, the ascent is not too bad. We saw several kids along the trail, and all of them seemed to be doing fine.
Ooh-Aah Point gives a nice view of the canyon from below the rim. The perspective from there is entirely different, so we recommend that you make this hike if at all possible. It is the best kid-friendly hike down into the Grand Canyon.
Tips for Families
- Hike in the morning. The trail was shaded for most of our hike which was helpful. In the afternoon and evening, this trail will be in full sun.
- Bring plenty of water. The hike up is tiring and hot.
- If you want to continue on to Cedar Ridge along this trail, the total distance is 3.0 miles and a total elevation change of 1,120 feet. Many people do this hike, but we were content with Ooh Aah Point.
- Plan on taking the shuttle. The Yaki Point Road is not open to private vehicles. For more info on the shuttles, visit the Grand Canyon site.