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Hiking from North Rim to Phantom Ranch

Huntersville, North...
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Hiking from North Rim to Phantom Ranch

I know that the N Kaibab Trail is 14 miles and a mile drop in elevation from trailhead to the river. We are considering hiking from rim to river in September next year and have done research on conditions, water, etc.

I would like to hear comments from people who have made this hike in a day, please. How long did this take including stops? Were you prepared for the trip? Would you do it again knowing what you know? Any tips, etc.

Thank you, in advance, for commenting only if you have done this hike, attempted it or have other personal knowledge or experience.

Cheers,

John

South Jersey, USA
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1. Re: Hiking from North Rim to Phantom Ranch

I have hiked on this trail a number of time but never the 14 miles in one day! One of the most gorgeous trails I have been on! The first 7 miles (North Kaibab trailhead to Cottonwood campground) is beautiful and steep! The elevation change will be 8000 ft. to approx 4280ft.

The second leg (from Cottonwood to the River) is pretty but be aware that if you get caught in the area knows as "the box" during high sun it will be hot!!! There is no piped water on this part of the trail but the Bright Angel Creek is there and as long as you have a purification system with you, you can pump!!

Not much elevation change on this part of the trail!

If you are in good physical condition and know what you are about to take on it can be done! Get an early start in the morning (4:00 if you can) and you should be at Phantom by noon!

Do you plan on camping at Bright Angel Campground or reserving dorm space or a cabin at Phantom Ranch for an overnight? You will need the proper permit to camp and of course reservations in place before you go down.

www.hitthetrail.com is a great site for loads of info on the trails and other things!!

Enjoy

SJG

Chattanooga...
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2. Re: Hiking from North Rim to Phantom Ranch

Way, way back in '96 we made that hike in right at seven hours without being rushed. We took a good long break at both Roaring Springs and Cottonwood, plus several other little breathers. We didn't even start until 9:30 because we wanted a good unhurried breakfast at the lodge; we arrived at Phantom Ranch at 4:30, in time to check in and then enjoy a little 'happy hour' at the canteen before they closed for dinner preparations.

I was the only regular hiker in the foursome. One other had done this as a backpack three years earlier, but was generally a tennis player moreso than a hiker. The other two upped their usual walking and bicycling for about six months before, but they weren't really hikers either. So everybody was at least relatively fit, but just as important we knew what we were getting into and were mentally ready as well. That was my 50th birthday celebration, and the others were 46-49 years old.

We had a cabin at Phantom, so our packs were small and light, needing only water, snacks, and a bit of clean clothing. I don't think there was anything that would have deterred any of us from doing it again had the opportunity arisen. After all these years, I'm sure I could still do it in around seven hours, but I might prefer to start earlier and string it out longer just to maximize the enjoyment.

Huntersville, North...
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3. Re: Hiking from North Rim to Phantom Ranch

Thanks for the thoughtful replies! We just booked Phantom Ranch yesterday for two nights which gives us a one day layover before hiking out via Bright Angel.

I am definitely concerned about the length of both these hikes and will consider alternatives now that we have the ranch booked. We are early 50's and there is a good range of fitness levels in our group of six.

We have almost thirteen months to prepare. I am not as concerned with finishing as I am that we will enjoy the trip and not be miserable or risk injury. I have reviewed several excellent sites from the park service as well as Hitthetrail.com.

Thanks again for your comments.

Cheers,

jc

Salt Lake City, Utah
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4. Re: Hiking from North Rim to Phantom Ranch

14 miles is alot to try in one day, but if you are ready you should really enjoy the hike. I took the mules on a full day trip a few years ago to Roaring Springs and have been looking forward to seeing that part of the trail again. We will be taking it in two days though as I know my feet will need the break.

Wickenburg, Arizona
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5. Re: Hiking from North Rim to Phantom Ranch

We are going to do rim-to-rim next May - in a day. Last May we hiked down S.Kaibab trail to the river and back up Bright Angel trail in a day. That's only 15 miles; rim-to-rim is 21 miles.

Rim-river-rim was easy for us - but we ARE highly experienced hikers and also trained athletes (marathoners). So to come back to your original question. yes, you absolutely HAVE to be prepared, or you'll end in misery (or on a stretcher)!

Tips ... make absolutely sure your shoes and socks fit perfectly! No wrinkles to cause blisters, no hard edges to chafe your feet sore and bloody. Make equally sure you wear pants that won't rub you sore between your legs with hard seams. Thsi may not happen when you walk from the parking lot to the store, but it sure might when you walk for hours on end - so make sure everything you wear has been 'hike-tested'.on your body.

Las Vegas, Nevada
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6. Re: Hiking from North Rim to Phantom Ranch

The hike down from the North Rim is not only long but is also VERY steep. As mentioned, you need to make sure your shoes fit so that your toes don't bump up against the toebox when you are hiking downhill. You'll certainly want hiking poles to help take some pressure off your knees. And even with poles your knees will take a pounding so you want to make sure they are nice and strong.

Since you're staying at PR you can take your time. Hubby and I did a R2R as a day hike so we started from the North Rim at 6am, got to PR by noon and finished our hike at the South Rim at 7pm that nite. We were moving along pretty good. You should plan on taking 7 or 8 hours or even 9 hours to get to Phantom Ranch since you have the time.

Seattle
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7. Re: Hiking from North Rim to Phantom Ranch

I led a group of 12 on a Rim to Rim hike in 2008. We hiked the 14 mile North Kaibab Trail(downhill) in one day, with no difficulty. My time of 7 hours was in the middle of the pack---some did it in 6 or less, but they are fast hikers. We ranged in age from 55 to 74 years, but all are esperienced at hiking.

I actually do not like hiking downhill, but I did not find the trail steep enough to be troubling in any part. You lose over 2/3 of the elevation in the first half, going to Cottonwood Camp. The last four miles, along the creek, are nearly level. This is the part that can be tiring, but it is so beautiful there we enjoyed every step.

Hiking poles definitely help, and you really want to pay attention to the fit of your boots, so the toes don't hit the front. I've never experienced "canyon toe" myself, but I know from others that it is vary painrful and unpleasant.

September is a great time for this hike. Ccongratulations on scoring space at Phantom!

Edited: 04 September 2012, 22:05
Huntersville, North...
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8. Re: Hiking from North Rim to Phantom Ranch

Thanks, everyone, for the responses. These will definitely help us to prepare. Our group of six ranges from triathletes to slightly north of slugs (I put myself in that category). We are extremely excited to make this trip and we will take these comments and suggestions under advisement.

Cheers!

Salt Lake City, Utah
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9. Re: Hiking from North Rim to Phantom Ranch

I suggest you read "Over the Edge; Death in Grand Canyon" by Michael P. Ghiglieri. It will tell you what NOT to do. Somewhat dry but with a recurring theme: stay on the trail.

Malibu, California
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10. Re: Hiking from North Rim to Phantom Ranch

Is Phantom Ranch on the south side of Colorado River or on the north side ? We are planning to hike down from the south rim to Phantom Ranch, do we need to cross the river ?