Hiking the South Kaibab Trail in the Grand Canyon

View from Cedar Ridge on South Kaibab Trail - photo by Julie Dodd

The view of Cedar Ridge. Hikers sat in the shade of the few trees to rest and eat lunch. The outhouse is to the right of the dead tree in the center of the photo. No water is available. Photos by Julie Dodd

When you reach Ooh-Aah Point on the South Kaibab Trail in the Grand Canyon, you know why it got that name.

What a view!

Overlooking the Ooh-Aah Point - Photo by Julie Dodd

This view overlooks the Ooh-Aah Point. You can see people gathered at the point, which is in the middle of the photo.

As I looked out over the Grand Canyon, I felt like I was airborne but without a plane.

Ooh-Aah Point is a 1.8-mile round-trip on the South Kaibab Trail, and hiking the trail gives you the real experience of being in the Canyon.

The South Kaibab Trail is one of the trails leading from the South Rim to the Colorado River.

Most of those who visit the Grand Canyon get their viewing experience from the Rim, and the South Rim Trail and the many Canyon overlooks on the bus routes do provide great views. But hiking into the Canyon gives you a different experience.

Stairs on South Kaibab Trail - photo by Julie Dodd

Stairs on South Kaibab Trail.

The South Kaibab Trail is the rusty red of the canyon and the descent (or climb) is steep, with lots of steps and switchbacks.

From Ooh-Aah Point, we continued down the South Kaibab Trail to Cedar Ridge and joined about two dozen hikers. Most of the hikers were seated under small trees, taking advantage of the little shade available to rest and have lunch. A few were on the edge, posing for dramatic (and some dangerous) photos.

Even in September, the sun was hot and bright – but definitely cooler than when I’ve hiked in the Canyon in July and August.

The big motto at the Grand Canyon is “Hike Smart.” Hiking brochures and the signage at the start of the South Kaibab Trail warn hikers that no water is available on the trail. Even so, more than half the hikers I saw on the South Kaibab Trail were carrying just a single bottle of water – not enough for a comfortable hiking experience – and some weren’t carrying any water.

Part of hiking is accomplishing the hike. Part of hiking is enjoying the beauty of Nature. But part of hiking is being reminded of the power of Nature and the importance of being prepared and respecting the challenges of the particular hike.

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