If the Grand Canyon was a sundae, the North Rim would be the strawberry ice cream. Although less popular than chocolate or vanilla (aka the South Rim), those willing to venture out will be rewarded – and never look back. There are far less trails on the North Rim, but there are some great options for day hikes on the Grand Canyon’s North Rim if you know where to look. Read this blog for a few of the best options before you hit these Grand Canyon north rim hiking trails.
The trailhead to hike the North Kaibab trail begins just a few miles north of the North Rim Visitor Center. You can choose to take the shuttle from the visitor’s center or to park at the trailhead. There are a few different day hiking options:
Of all Grand Canyon North Rim day hikes, this one might be the most pleasant and bang for your hiking buck. It doesn’t take long for you to plop down on this large sandstone ridge and enjoy some phenomenal views for less effort than other destinations. Even though this trail is one of the most accessible, the less traveled North Rim provides a bit of a barrier for the crowds.
Continuing down the Kaibab trail on the North Rim means heading through the Supai tunnel. Just before the tunnel you pass a water spigot as well as a toilet, but it is necessary to check the conditions of both before relying on them as you descend into the canyon. Supai tunnel is a great place for a break, and possibly a turn around point. Going much further than this not only adds miles, but a considerable amount of elevation and exposure to the sun. It’s not uncommon for this trail to take hikers a few hours to complete, so it’s important to do you best to ignore her enticement to explore further if you are too tired to do so.
Heading to roaring springs is the last recommended stop for day hikers on Grand Canyon North Rim trails. Your trek is rewarded at roaring springs; that is if you enjoy waterfalls and can appreciate the seemingly simplistic feat that is a bridge over 3,000 feet below the rim. Roaring springs also supplies the delicious Grand Canyon spring water to the masses enjoying the South Rim and visitor centers. Not to be understated, this is a strenuous hike and extra precaution should be taken in the summer months with the weather.
Although this has been done, this is a feat reserved for expert hikers with exceptional fitness who are looking for a nearly 11 hour day. Otherwise, this is a great stop on the trail for a Grand Canyon North rim to South rim hike. Hikers with Phantom Ranch reservations can stay here in between treks, serving as a refreshing reprieve before to trudging back up the canyon.
Depending on where you’re coming from you’ll have the opportunity to see some impressive areas along the way. If you have the over 5-hour drive from near Phoenix, you have the opportunity to see Vermillion Cliffs National Monument, Marble Canyon, or stop to enjoy the Navajo bridge and the area around Jacob Lake. Or if you’re heading in from the Vegas area, you’ll pass by St. George and the Red Cliffs Conservation area as well as Pipe Springs National Monument. If you are already in for the long haul, you might as well enjoy the ride before tackling a day hike on the North Rim.
You can probably hear your mom, dad, or grandmother saying this in their respective voices but it doesn’t just refer to minding the edge of the canyon or bringing enough water. Being safe incorporates your nutrition, exposure to sun, picking the right shoes, and listening to your body. Difficult hikes can be uncomfortable, but it’s important to differentiate the tolerable pain from the concerning and dangerous pains with consequences steeper than the trail. The National Park Service has some tips for safety at the Grand Canyon.
For some, the Grand Canyon is a once in a lifetime trip. If this is the case for you and your time is flexible, consider checking out multi-day guided Grand Canyon trips with REI Adventures. Whichever way you decide to visit the Grand Canyon, go responsibly and make sure to save time to stop and take a long look around once in awhile.