South Rim Trail

Rating: 
One-way Distance: Up to 13 miles
Difficulty: Easy - Moderate
Elevation: 6796 - 7100 feet
Cellphone: 0-5 bars
Usage: Hiking - Dogs on leash - some bike
Time: 30 mins. plus
Facilities: Flush toilets
Trailhead: Hermit's Rest to South Kaibab
Fee: $25/vehicle or $12/person
Attractions: Scenic views, Geological Timeline Trail, Visitor Centers, Museums
   


View South Rim Trail in a larger map

The Rim trail is located in the South Rim Section of the Grand Canyon National Park. The trail stretches along the south rim from Hermit's Rest to Yaki Point. The section from the Lookout Studio to the South Kaibab trailhead is wheelchair accessible and the last mile and a half or so is open to bicycles. The trail can be accessed from the Visitor Center and several of the lodges as well as from multiple bus stops. For instance, a person could take the free bus from the Visitor Center to Hermit's Rest, hike the entire length of the trail, and take the bus back to the Visitor Center.


This post describes hiking the Rim trail from Bright Angel Lodge to the main Visitor Center. A one-way distance of 3.3 miles. The free shuttle bus service was used to get from the Visitor Center to Bright Angel Lodge. The buses are by far the best way to get around in the South Rim Section of the Grand Canyon. No worries finding a parking space and way less traffic on the roads.


The Rim trail offers spectacular views of the Grand Canyon that seem to constantly change as the sun moves across the sky. From these viewing scopes you can see across the canyon to the North Rim Visitor Center and Lodge.


Most of the trail is wheelchair accessible. There are a few steep sections that are close to the rim where alternate routes are provided that have a more moderate slope.


Looking across the canyon you can see the impressive gorge that the North Kaibab trail takes from the North Rim to the Colorado River.


At several locations along the rim there are 'Scenic Locators'. The locators are designed so that each notch points to a specific landmark in the canyon. The locators not only make it easy to properly identify the landmarks but if you place your camera on top of the tube you can zoom in and take your own photos. It's like having a tripod all set up and ready to go.


There are several buildings made using different architectural styles along the rim that add to the atmosphere of the hike without distracting from the natural scenery. The Lookout Studio blends in so well with the rim of the canyon that it practically becomes invisible from a distance.


The Hopi House brings a native American flare to their location.


The Verkamp's Visitor Center sits just off the Rim trail providing a gift shop and pioneer museum. John Verkamp began with a tent in 1898 and built the current building in 1905. Verkamp's was a curio shop on the South Rim for over 100 years until the Park Service purchased the building and opened it as a Visitor Center in 2008.


Once the trail passes the Village area the crowds thin out with long stretches of peaceful hiking.


A mile and a half section of the Rim trail is devoted to the 'Trail of Time' where you can pass through the geological periods of the earth's history one million years at a time. Small brass circles are inlaid into the path every 3 feet that mark a one million year interval. Larger circles like the one above occur for every tenth position.


Samples of each rock formation occurring within the canyon are mounted on pedestals beside the path . Visitors are encouraged to touch the rocks and feel their textures. That's pretty remarkable, when you think about it, to be able to walk through 2 billion years of the earth's existence and touch all the formations for this local as you go.


The Yavapai Point Museum (pronounced yav-a-pie) showcases the geological history of the Grand Canyon.


This is billed as the 'Room with a View'. The site of the Yavapai Point Museum was selected by a team of scientists in the 1920's as the best spot along the rim where the view would represent the Grand Canyons geology.


Just past Yavapai Point you can peer down into the canyon to the Colorado River and even see on of the suspension bridges that hikers take to get from one side of the park to the other. If you click on this picture you should even be able to make out rafts that are beached along the shore.


At several of the viewpoints it feels like you are standing right out in the canyon. There are several signs that show a picture of a California Condor perched on the railing of one of the viewpoints. We saw 2 condors that were flying on 2 occasions but couldn't change camera lenses fast enough either time to get a picture.


The gorges are so narrow and deep that other than a couple of glimpses of the river it is hard to find a place where you can see all of the way to the bottom of the canyon. What you can see though is none the less awe inspiring.


The only way to see more of the Grand Canyon in one day than you can view from the Rim trail would probably be in a helicopter. The trail is unique in that it can be carved up into just the adventure you are looking for. A person could take the bus to Hermit's point and begin hiking until they were tired or to the next bus stop and either return to their car or pick up the Rim trail at some other point. You just never know though, whether the spot you miss might not be the best spot there is. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.