Friday, April 26, 2013

To avoid crowds, try North Rim trails

The view from Bright Angel Point. Photo courtesy Grand Canyon NPS.
As the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park gets most of the press, the North Rim is just as beautiful. Fortunately, it also offers a number of great day hikes.

In fairness, the South Rim is iconic and somewhat more accessible. But if coming from Utah and Colorado or all points north, the North Rim is fairly easy to reach. You’ll also find this side of the canyon much less crowded.

To reach the North Rim, from Jacob Lake, Ariz., take Ariz. Hwy. 67 south about 40 miles to the North Entrance. You’re at a high altitude, about 8824 feet, but the summer sun still will be intense, so be sure to bring a brimmed hat and sunscreen with you; in addition, you’re still in a desert environment, so make sure you have filled canteens before any hike.

Most visitors to the North Rim stay at the Grand Canyon Lodge or one of the nearby campgrounds. The lodge and visitor center sits on a peninsula overlooking Bright Angel Canyon. From the lodge and center, you can access two trails:
g Bright Angel Point Trail – The 0.6-mile round trip takes walkers to the peninsula’s very tip, where they can enjoy a three-sided view of the canyon. Pick up the trail at either the log shelter by the visitor center or at the lodge’s back porch. Pamphlets describing the sights can be picked up from a box along the trial. The path is paved, but the 150-feet change in elevation can be taxing at that high altitude.
g Transept Trail – The three-mile round trip takes hikers on a narrow dirt trail along the canyon rim, connecting the Grand Canyon Lodge and North Rim Campground. While sections are shaded and cool air does blow up from the canyon, the 200 feet in elevation can be trying for those who aren’t physically fit.

Other trails are available along the North Rim but require driving to.

Read more about day hiking the Grand Canyon in my Hittin’ the Trail: Day Hiking Grand Canyon National Park guidebook.