Hiking the South Kaibab Trail to Skeleton Point 2020

If the Grand Canyon is on your bucket list but you only have a short amount of time, hiking the South Kaibab Trail to Skeleton Point is a perfect day trip.

South Kaibab Trail at Ooh Aah Point

One of the most iconic day hikes of the Grand Canyon, the South Kaibab Trail has plenty of convenient turnaround points. If you have half of a day as I did, the turnabout at Skeleton Point provides you with a challenging workout alongside astounding views.

Play video: Hiking the South Kaibab Trail to Skelton Point
Essential Hiking Survival Kit Sign-In
Disclosure Language

First Stop When Hiking the South Kaibab Trail: Ooh Aah Point

Because the South Kaibab Trail is such a popular trail, I worried that there would be a lot of people, but, for this early November hike, there were very few people on the trail.

There were only a few places where I had to wait for other hikers, but one of those places was at Ooh Aah Point, the first turnaround spot when hiking the South Kaibab Trail. I waited my turn to clamber onto the rocks at the lookout point and it was certainly worth it.

South Kaibab Trail at Ooh Aah Point

NOTE: Check the National Park Service information for closures. Shuttle service is limited during the 2020 season due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Plan for additional walking to the South Kaibab/South Rim trailheads.

In the end, I was glad for the little line. Because the person behind me offered to take a picture of me. And he captured this shot that I seriously love from Ooh Aah Point on the South Kaibab Trail.

The aptly named Ooh Aah Point is just less than a mile or 1.4 kilometers from the trailhead so it’s a great place to turn around if you want a quick and moderately difficult hike. I think it would take about an hour down and back depending on how long you have to wait in line at the point.

Fun Fact: The Colorado River carved the Grand Canyon after the extinction of the dinosaurs, but the rock that was exposed from the river’s handiwork is from far before dinosaurs even existed.

Next Stop on the South Kaibab Trail: Cedar Ridge

An Oasis while hiking the South Kaibab Trail to Skeleton Point!

Booking Advert

Another .6 miles or a kilometer beyond Ooh Aah Point will take you to Cedar Ridge. It’s like a little gathering place with people and horses and bathrooms.

I had lunch here on my way back up as I really needed the rest and the fuel.

Hiking South Kaibab Trail All the Way to Skeleton Point

Hiking the south Kaibab Trail at the Grand Canyon

Skeleton Point is about 1.5 miles or 2.4 kilometers down from Cedar Ridge.

Heading three more miles down to the river would be quite the adventure, but there you would find the so-called “basement” rocks of the canyon that are an unfathomable 1.84 billion years old.

TrustedHousesitters advert

But I turned around at Skeleton Point and found it a very challenging but satisfying hike back to the rim.

I felt like I really earned the cancellation stamp I collected for my U.S. National Parks Passport!

Pin me for later!

Just the Facts: Hiking the South Kaibab Trail to Skeleton Point

Address for South Rim Grand Canyon Village:

Get your National Park Passport stamp at the Visitors Center at the South Rim Grand Canyon Village: S Entrance Rd, Grand Canyon Village, AZ 86023

From there hop the orange shuttle headed eastbound to the South Kaibab Trailhead.

Length of the trail: 

The hike to Skeleton Point is six miles total / 9.5 kilometers total. Look at this way: three relatively easy miles down and three challenging miles up!

Hiking the South Kaibab Trail in its entirety is 6.5 miles down to the river where some people camp before joining up with the North Kaibab Trail and hiking out via the North Rim. This is definitely on my bucket list.

Time needed to hike the South Kaibab Trail to Skelton Point: 

Four to five hours. It took me four and I stopped for lunch at Cedar Point and stopped again for a short meditation. But it would take longer on a day when the trail is busier (especially when you get stuck behind the horses and mules as I did!)

Trip Advisor hotel banner
See Grand Canyon hotels here

Difficulty level: 

Hard. I’m not going to lie. (But it’s doable!)

Elevation change:

The elevation change from the rim to Skeleton Point is about 2,000 feet. Easy on the way down…hard on the way back up!

Tips for hiking the South Kaibab Trail to Skeleton Point:

It’s super important to check for the latest information before you go. The Grand Canyon’s latest information on trail openings is here.

I found it really helpful to stop at the ranger station at the visitor center where I was provided with maps and advice on which trail to take and what shuttle would get me there.

Bring water. I know this sounds obvious, but on the South Kaibab Trail to Skeleton Point, there is nowhere to get water so you must bring your own. When I hiked the trail in November, it was cold at the rim and it was seriously warm as I got nearer the river.

Lather up: Don’t forget the sunscreen. It really heats up down there.

REI Sustainable Ad

Pit stops on the trail:

There are bathrooms at Cedar Point and it’s also a really nice place for a trailside lunch.

Best time of year to hike the South Kaibab Trail:

I found November to be ideal. The weather was cool enough for a stocking hat up top and warm enough for a t-shirt at Skeleton Point. The crowds were minimal.

Daytime temperatures remain cool March through May and September through November. I would avoid the summer season if possible due to major crowds and excessive heat.

Where to stay:

I stayed near the South Rim in Tusayan, AZ. This was an easy jumping-off point to the park and the South Kaibab Trail.

There actually aren’t that many options for hotel stays, so you may want to search both hotels and apartment rentals. This way you get a whole house with a kitchen! This map will help you search for both:

Latest details from the Grand Canyon:

Click here for the latest details directly from the Grand Canyon National Park and pertaining to openings at the visitors’ centers and shuttles and trailheads, including the South Kaibab Trail on the South Rim.

Don’t forget your travel insurance!

World Nomads Advert

Visit here for more on USA national parks, or explore more things to do in Arizona or great hikes from around the world.

34 Comments on “Hiking the South Kaibab Trail to Skeleton Point 2020”

  1. I haven’t been to the Grand Canyon…yet, but this makes me want to go! Thanks for the great descriptions and trail information!

    • Thanks for watching, Molly! Please do let me know if you go to the Canyon. (Fingers crossed we are hiking again, soon!)

  2. Sounds like a great hike and I usually prefer day hikes so I am glad to know I could hike this part of the Grand Canyon in a day. I love your photo from Ooh Aah Point too! Good to know there are bathrooms too, that is always an important piece of information for me, haha!

    • I hear you about the bathrooms. If I had a buck for every time I had to pop a squat on the Camino…well, you get the picture. Thanks for watching my video!

  3. I hope to do this next year, the three easy km down sound great – I better start training for the walk back up lol.

  4. Wow! I am so impressed you hiked all the way to Skeleton Point – and back! The South Kaibab is probably the most scenic trail into the GC, truly an amazing (but gotten way too busy in the past few years, I’d love to see it empty, now); I also hiked it but I haven’t gone much past OOh Ahh Point; so I truly admire you 🙂

    • Well, I don’t blame you for stopping at Ooh Aah. What a great place to take in the views! And the hike up from there is enough of a challenge. I really want to hike rim to rim. Crossing my fingers that we’re traveling again soon. Thanks for checking out my post and video!

    • Crossing my fingers that we’re all traveling soon and you’re hiking the Grand Canyon! (Please let me know if you do hike the South Kaibab Trail!)

  5. Wow, this sounds like an amazing hike. The Grand Canyon has been on my bucket list for years, and I was supposed to be in the States in June :(. Saving this post for later though, as it will come in handy!

    • I hope it will, indeed, come in handy for you soon! The South Kaibab trail is just amazing. Please let me know if you do choose to put your hiking shoes down at the Canyon!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.