North Rim Day Hikes

Cliff Springs Trail | Photo courtesy of Grand Canyon National Park - by Mike Quinn

Below is a list of trails and day hikes from the North Rim. You can start by downloading/looking at this Grand Canyon North Rim Trails (PDF) which shows a synopsis of all the North Rim trails on a single map. Grand Canyon National Park has some trail descriptions and PDF brochures available on their site. The trail names below are linked to these files if available. Whenever there is no NPS literature available, I link to the trail pages on Bob Riboka’s extremely informative web site, Grand Canyon Explorer. Be sure to check for Critical Backcountry Updates on the Park Service web site for current information that could affect your visit.

Backcountry permits are not required for day hikes. A permit is only required if you will be spending the night and camping below the rim. For more information on getting a permit, visit the Grand Canyon Backcountry Permits page.

A permit is not required if you are staying at Phantom Ranch, but a reservation is required in advance. For more information on lodging at Phantom Ranch, visit the Phantom Ranch Lodging & Dining page.

Bright Angel Point Trail

Bright Angel Point brochureHighly recommended as your first hike upon arriving at the North Rim! It is only ½ mile each way, paved, and takes you to one of the most spectacular views at Grand Canyon. A fabulous walk to during sunset to emphasize all the details and dimensions obscured mid-day when the sun is directly overhead. Since it does follow a ridge line for part of its distance, I have seen a few people who were troubled by the drop offs and unable to walk out to the point. Try it before you decide to not to hike to it; it is a sight to behold! The trail begins at the log shelter in the parking area by the Visitor Center or at the corner of the back porch behind the lodge.

To get the most out of your visit to the point, download the park’s brochure for Bright Angel Point in PDF format (1.65 MB).

Transept Trail

Another wonderful hike located right in the village area of the North Rim. The Transept Trail connects Grand Canyon Lodge to the North Rim Campground and follows the rim of a side canyon called Transept. Although not paved, it is an easy trail that doesn’t have any terrible drop offs along its edge to discourage those with a fear of heights. The trail takes you through Quaking aspens and ponderosa pines, making a very pleasant walk that isn’t too demanding for most people.

Uncle Jim Trail

The Uncle Jim Trail begins at the North Kaibab Trail parking lot and is 2.5 each way. It winds through the forest and comes out to a spectacular point that looks out over the canyon and the North Kaibab Trail switchbacks. It is a pleasant enough trail, but since it is used by mules, let’s just say that the scent of pine tress is not the prevalent “fragrance” here!

North Kaibab Trail

The North Kaibab Trail is the only maintained trail from the North Rim that can take you all the way down to the Colorado River. It is 14 miles one way to the river—with over a mile drop in elevation—and NOT a day hike. However, there are several destinations that make great day hikes. Do be aware that the trail begins at 8,000 feet in elevation, and therefore is pretty strenuous hiking back out no matter how you look at it!

In spite of this challenge, I highly recommend a hike to the Coconino Overlook for nearly anyone. To get to this incredible viewpoint is only ¾ mile one way and provides one of the greatest views to be seen from the North Rim. It is one of my favorite spots along the North Kaibab Trail!

Another ½ mile from the Coconino Overlook, two miles from the rim, is the Supai Tunnel. This is the turning around point for the short day mule trips. There are toilets here as well as a water faucet (check availability before counting on water here). This is a common turn around point for day hikers who don’t want to get into much strenuous hiking. Be very careful leaving packs unattended here as the squirrels can destroy them in seconds looking for food!

Nearly five miles and 3050 feet down will take you to Roaring Springs. This is an extremely strenuous hike and takes a full day to do. It can also be extremely hot in the inner canyon, especially when compared to your starting point on the rim, and requires carrying up to one gallon of water per person. I cannot stress enough how important it is to get started as early as possible. I am not exaggerating when I recommend that you start no later than dawn. You can’t know how important this is until you are stuck below the rim in oven-like temperatures! Roaring Springs is the turn around point for the long mule rides. No mule rides go beyond Roaring Springs; Phantom Ranch can only be accessed by mule from the South Rim.

Widforss Trail

Widforss Trail brochureA very pleasant, relatively level hike through the aspen and pine forest. The trail ends at the rim of the canyon, 2½ miles distance one way. A great hike to take a picnic lunch along. To access the trailhead, watch for the dirt road located one mouth south of the Scenic Drive/Cape Royal Road. Drive in ¼ mile to the Widforss Trail parking area.

To get the most out of your hike, download the park’s brochure for the Widforss Trail available in PDF format (1.75 MB).

Ken Patrick Trail

10 mi. / 16 km one-way; 6 hours approximate one-way hiking time. Winds through the forest and along the rim from Point Imperial to the North Kaibab Trail parking area.

Cape Final Trail

4.0 mi. / 6.4 km round-trip; 2 hours approximate round-trip hiking time. A 2-mile walk from dirt parking area to Cape Final. This trail offers a view of the canyon.

Cliff Springs Trail

1.0 mi. / 1.6 km round-trip; 1 hour approximate round-trip hiking time. Meanders down a forested ravine and ends where a chest-high boulder rests under a large overhang. The spring is on the cliff side of the boulder. Please do not drink the water as it may be contaminated. Trail begins directly across the road from a small pullout on a curve 0.3 miles/0.5 km down the road from Cape Royal.

Cape Royal Trail

0.6 mi. / 1.0 km round-trip; 30 minutes approximate round-trip hiking time. An easy walk on a flat, paved trail providing views of the canyon, Angels Window, and the Colorado River. Markers along the trail interpret the area’s natural history. Trail begins at the southeast side of the Cape Royal parking area.

Point Imperial Trail

4.0 mi. / 6.4 km round-trip; 2 hours approximate round-trip hiking time. This easy trail passes through areas burned by the 2000 Outlet Fire and ends at the north park boundary. From there connections are possible to the Nankoweap Trail and U.S. Forest Service roads.

Roosevelt Point Trail

0.2 mi. / 0.3 km round-trip; 20 minutes approximate round-trip hiking time. This trail is a short, secluded woodland loop with spectacular views. Offers benches for relaxed enjoyment of the canyon.