The Kaibab National Forest is the largest freestanding conifer forest in the United States, and happens to be located adjacent to the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park. For those who want even more hiking opportunities, hundreds of miles of trails await. Unlike the trails in Grand Canyon National Park, which are strictly off limits for mountain bikes, mountain bikers and horseback riders alike can access any of the trails in the Kaibab National Forest. Note that due to extreme terrain, you should exercise your best judgment on your personal, and if applicable your horses ability.
Hikers will experience similar conditions in Kaibab National Forest as they will in Grand Canyon National Park. Altitude, terrain, and a lack of water can make hiking difficult. Water found in the park should not be considered potable. Maps can be obtained at the North Kaibab Visitors Center. Like in Grand Canyon National Park, you are responsible for your own safety.
Dispersed backcountry camping is allowed within the boundaries of Kaibab National Forest. National Forest requirements maintain that you camp at least 1/4 of a mile from any source of water. You should check with the North Kaibab Visitors Center for fire hazard and confirm if open fires are permitted. They can be reached at (520)-643-7298 or you can inquire in person.
If you plan to backcountry camp in the boundaries of Grand Canyon National Park, a backcountry permit will have to be obtained. You can write to the Backcountry Office, PO BOX 129, Grand Canyon, Arizona 86023 to request your permit. You can fill out an online form to print and send to the above address or fax to (520) 638-2125. You can also call (520) 638-7875 to speak with some one in the Backcountry Permit office directly, keeping in mind that they will not be able to take your application over the phone. If you complete the online form you will have to print it out and mail or fax it. The National Park Service has no provisions to apply online for a backcountry permit. Click here to fill out the form
Hikers wishing to go on a waiting list for permits can apply in person at the North Rim Backcountry Office, located at the Ranger Station close to the North Rim Campground. There are no guarantees you will get a slot to hike down if you are on the wait list. Cost for the permit is $20, and there is a $4 per-person User Impact Fee.
Leave no trace ethics and minimal impact camping should be followed in the backcountry. All trash should be packed out, animals will dig up human trash. Toilet paper should also be carried out and any human waste should be buried in cat holes, at least six inches deep. Try to stay on the trails and respect your fellow hikers, mountain bikers, horseback riders, and campers.
If you do plan to backcountry you should notify a relative, friend, or ranger, and use trailhead registers. You should not hike alone. Keep in mind that there is a variety of wildlife in the forest. We couldn't possibly list all of our favorite trails -- so we selected those that start between the North Kaibab Visitors Center and the North Entrance To Grand Canyon National Park, North Rim.
East Rim Trail #7
Trailhead Location & Access: From North Kaibab Visitor Center go south on State Highway 67, 26.5 miles (0.7 miles beyond Demotte Campground entrance) and turn east onto FR 611; in 1.4 miles FR 611 intersects FR 610; continue on FR 611 for 2.6 miles to East Rim Viewpoint where Trail #7 starts at the Wilderness boundary.
Length: 3.0 miles (round trip)
Hiking Time: 2 to 3 hours (round trip)
Description: Makes a steep descent down the rim of North Canyon, passing through mixed conifer forests, oak thickets, ferns, and rock cliffs, ending at the two forks of Trail #4 at the bottom.
Nankoweap Trail #57
Trailhead Location & Access: From North Kaibab Visitor Center go south on AZ 67 for 26.5 miles (0.7 miles beyond DeMotte Park Campground entrance) and turn east onto FR 611; in about 1.4 miles turn south onto FR 610 and go 12.3 miles to the end of the road at the trailhead or About 20 miles east of North Kaibab Visitor Center on US 89A turn south on FR 445: go 27 miles to the trailhead. (Stay on right-hand fork of FR 445.)
Length: 4.0 miles one way
Hiking Time: 1-1/2 to 2 hours, hike is easier on a one way starting from the North Kaibab Visitors Center
Description: Trail #57 off FR 445, climbs to Nankoweap Saddle, passing through big ponderosa pine, red and white cliffs, and steep canyons. At the saddle, the hiker can view a multitude of jagged peaks and the drainages of Marble Canyon. The trail is heavily used in the fall and spring by hikers going down the Grand Canyon National Park Nankoweap Trail. As a result of the 1960 Saddle Mountain fire, locust and aspen have invaded the first mile of the trail off FR 610, leaving this section in poor condition.
Rainbow Rim Trail #10
Trailhead Location & Access: Parissawampitts: Go 26.5 miles south of Kaibab Plateau Visitor Center on AZ 67, turn right on Forest Development Road (FDR) 22 for 10.5 miles to FDR 206. Turn left and continue on FDR 206 for 3.5 miles and turn right on FDR 214 and follow it for 8 miles to Parissawampitts Viewpoint. Fence: Continue on FDR 206 for an additional 1.5 miles to the FDR 271, turn right for .1 mile to FDR 294, continue on FDR 294 for .1 to FDR 293 and follow it to the trailhead in about 8 miles. Locust: Follow FDR 294 for about 8 miles to the trailhead. North Timp: From the junction of FDR 206 and 271, follow FDR 271 for 5 miles to FDR 271A, turn right and follow FDR 271A for 3 miles. Timp: From the junction of FDR 206 and 271, follow FDR 271 for 8 miles to the trailhead.
South Canyon Trail #6
Trailhead Location & Access: Go south on AZ 67, 26.5 miles from Visitor Center (0.7 miles beyond Demotte Campground entrance) and turn east onto FR 611; go 1.4 miles and turn south onto FR 610; follow FR 610 for 7 1/2 miles to the trailhead sign.
Length: 2.5 miles (round trip)
Hiking Time: 3-1/2 to 4 hours (round trip)
Description: views of Marble Canyon as it leads through side hills of ferns, aspen, mixed conifer and rock outcroppings. Very scenic trail