Distance: 16 miles round-trip to the Colorado River
Duration: 2 days or more
Elevation loss: 4,400 feet from rim to river
Trailhead: 30 miles west of Grand Canyon Village 
Getting to the trailhead for this wilderness hike may require two hours or more, along with a good map. You’ll be crossing the Havasupai Reservation, and you may be asked to pay a fee. From the west side of the village, head south on Rowe Well Road. Turn west, following signs for Pasture Wash or Forest Road 328, a rough dirt road that may be impassable in wet weather.
Even long after a rain, ruts remain, making a high-clearance vehicle necessity and 4WD recommended. (Whenever you’re traveling forest roads in remote areas like this, it’s a good idea to ask rangers about current conditions before starting out.)
The rewards are scenic views that encompass the Shinumo Amphitheater monuments backed by Powell Point  along with the western canyon, plus a journey along the trail used by the first nonnative man to raise a family at Grand Canyon.
Like many pioneer miners, William Bass supplemented prospecting with guiding tourists, including music teacher Ada Diefendorf, whom he married in 1895. He improved what was once an Indian trail to make it accessible by horseback. His mining camp is on the opposite side of the river, reached by the North Bass Trail. Bass built a cable crossing to complete this rim-to-rim route, the first in Grand Canyon, by 1900.
The South Bass Trail descends from the rim to a series of switchbacks leading to the Esplanade, a shelf of reddish-pink and gray sandstone topped with delicate cryptobiotic crust. (Avoid treading on this miniature universe of erosion-preventing mosses, lichens, and algae.)
Here, the trail heads northwest before descending and turning south to the head of Bass Canyon. It follows the east side of the canyon, then drops to the dry creek bed, leading toward the river. The canyon ends in a pour-over; look left for a trail climbing the west side. In about 200 yards, a break in the cliffs leads to the river and Bass Rapids. En route, you’ll see the Ross Wheeler, a rusty metal boat abandoned by a 1915 river expedition.
The beaches here and across the river are popular with boat parties, who stop to explore or camp. They often shuttle back and forth across the river, and you may be able to catch a ride to explore the other side, where the North Bass Trail leads to historic Bass Camp. If you’re limited to exploring the south side of the river, you can climb back up the route you took to the beach and walk another 0.3 miles west to a cairned scramble that leads down to Shinumo Rapids.