Grand Canyon Day Hikes

After suffering from rain/snow/hail for 13 of the first 15 days of the trip, the weather has finally cleared. Mostly sunny; highs in the 80’s and 90’s; lows in the 30’s and 40’s.

We arrived in Grand Canyon National Park on Sunday afternoon and spent a few hours visiting some of the “touristy” attractions and walking along the Rim Trail (roughly 2.5 miles). We also talked with a ranger in the backcountry office and received a waitlist number for a trip into the canyon. The spaces are extremely limited for walk-ins like us, since most backpackers book spots 4 months in advance.

View from the rim

We camped in the Kaibab National Forest on Sunday night – pulling the car off a dirt road and setting up in a grove of pine trees. Allison made spaghetti on the camp stove, and I talked her into playing a few games of “poor man’s bocce ball” using pine cones and some rocks.

Kaibab National Forest campsite

Reading in my room

Early Monday morning, we drove to the backcountry office and managed to get the last available permit! We’ll be leaving on Wednesday afternoon, then spending two nights in the canyon and a third on the opposite (north) rim. Packing for three nights was a bit of a challenge, since the temperature will likely range from 30F to 100F. We also invested in a lightweight backpacking stove, so we’ll be able to enjoy Ramen noodles and freeze-dried meals. If you click on this picture, you’ll be able to see our proposed route:

Proposed route highlighted in red

After securing our permit, we took a shuttle to the Hermit’s Rest trailhead. Not wanting to burn ourselves out, we only hiked about 9.0 total miles for the day. Following the trail into the canyon, we took some branch-offs to see the Santa Maria Spring and the Dripping Spring (not super exciting to be honest, unless you’re really into watching water drip out the side of a cliff).

Allison pointing out the trailhead

Dripping Spring

The trail featured countless switchbacks and required a small amount of scrambling, but it offered some great views.

Allison climbing the switchbacks

View into the canyon

(slightly different) View into the canyon

Allison, hot on the trail (double-pun intended)

Rather than descending into the “main canyon,” the Hermit Trail actually winds through a scenic side canyon. It’s far less traveled (from what I understand) than the more popular trails, but it also lacks the sheer drop-offs and panoramic views we’ll be seeing later in the week. It’s very tame, so I’d definitely recommend it for anyone afraid of heights.

On Wednesday morning, we decided there would be plenty of time for a morning hike before starting on the backpacking trip. After parking along the rim, we descended the South Kaibab trail to Skeleton Point and back (7.6 miles, including connection trail along the rim).

South Kaibab switchbacks

The South Kaibab trail is actually the shortest route to the Colorado River (7-8 miles each way, I believe), so we encountered several people attempting to make it down and back in one day. The trail follows a ridgeline into the main canyon, offering sweeping views from a number of vistas (including the aptly named “Ooh Ahh Point”).

View from "Ooh Ahh Point"

View along the trail

We made it back to the car sometime around noon, grabbed some lunch at a cafeteria, and set off for our backpacking trip around 2:00pm.

Approximate Total Distance: 19.1 miles

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Published in: on June 1, 2011 at 12:35 am  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Great pictures of the canyon. Eagerly awaiting your next post!

  2. While you guys have been hiking across the canyon, jonathan and I have hiked the mountains and coast of california and the concrete canyons of san francisco! But we did get to sleep in nice beds every night. Can’t wait to hear all about your canyon adventures!


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