Millions of visitors visit the Grand Canyon every year, but a fraction of those visitors will venture below the rim of the canyon. There are several options for the more adventurous visitors looking for things to do below the rim of the Grand Canyon. One of the shortest hikes with the most spectacular panoramic views is the 1 ½ mile hike down to Cedar Ridge.
The hike to Cedar Ridge is on the South Kaibab Trail. The South Kaibab trailhead is accessible by a short shuttle bus ride from the Grand Canyon Visitor Center or by the hikers express shuttle, which departs from various stops throughout the park.
During the winter months the trail can be icy and treacherous, traction devices are recommended. During the warmer months, this trail can be challenging due to the lack of water beyond the trail head. Each person should carry 1-2 quarts (1-2 liters) of water. Water is available at the trailhead from early May through mid-October. Salty snacks, a hat and sunscreen are also recommended.
The Kaibab trail is well maintained and used by mule trains servicing Phantom Ranch. Linens, trash and other items are packed in saddle bags and transported in and out of the ranch on the opposite side of the river. Hikers need to heed the head wrangler’s instructions and give the mule train the right of way.
The accent into the canyon is comprised of several switchbacks that hug the wall of the canyon. The geological layers of the canyon offer a colorful landscape which changes with every turn. The light beige Kaibab formation fades into a darker tan layer which blends into the golden hue of the Coconino sandstone and finally the earthy red hermit shale.
The big reward is reached in less than a mile into the canyon at Ooh Aah point. Yes, this point does inspire gasps and the verbal expressions “Ooh” and “Aah”. From this point the trail reaches a panoramic view of the Grand Canyon. Cedar Ridge can be seen just below the trail. Cedar ridge is aptly named for the beautiful cedar trees along a ridge. Composting toilets are available at this point.
Ooh Aah point has a different meaning for hikers as they return to the rim of the canyon. General rule of thumb for any trail in the Grand Canyon is it takes twice as long to hike up the trail as it does to hike down the trail. This hike is considered moderate level of difficulty due to the steep trail.