The Rainbow Rim Trail is the only singletrack along the entire rim of the Grand Canyon that is open to mountain biking. The trail located along the North Rim on the Kaibab Plateau and is 18 miles long. Getting to the trailhead is quite an experience on it's own as once you turn off the pavement there are another 30 miles on dirt forest roads that roll through groves of aspens, tall pines and beautiful green meadows.
While you can certainly do this trail in one day we opted to split it up into two days as it is a part ride, part gawk fest. The Rainbow Rim trail goes out to five points jutting out into the Grand Canyon and then follows mild drainage contours around to the next point. The general rule is you ride up and away from the canyon then down and towards the canyon then cruise along the rim for a ways before heading turning away from canyon again. This trail was made with mountain bikes in mind so you will find great sight lines, exceptional flow, and expansive views of the Grand Canyon which make this one of the one most unique trails in the country.
Our plan for the first day of riding was to go from Parissawampitts Point, to
Fence Point and onward to Locust Point where we would turn around and go
back. We did not make much headway in the first half hour as we stopped so
often to taken in the impressive scenic feast before us.
After our initial, scenic shellshock we got just a little desensitized (or is the right term Scenery Snob) and were able to stay on the bike for more than 60 seconds. I could hear myself a couple of times thinking (in a very snooty aristocratic accent), "Oh, I only rate this view a 9.97 and that is simply not worth me stopping this bike for."
We did not spend all of your time on the rim. Being a SoCal bum, I do not get to see aspens too often so riding through these majestic trees is always a treat. I think this section is between Fence and Locust Points.
We stopped at Locust Point and took in some snacks as well as some conversation before heading back the way we came. I thought on the way back there would be a bit of the "been there done that" feel to the trail, but it was absolutely not the case. Both the Grand Canyon and the Rainbow Rim trail surprised us on many occasions during the return to Parissawampitts Point as scenery was like a continuously turning kaleidoscope of impressive views. The Rainbow Rim Trail is by far the most non-out-and-back feeling out-and-back trail I have ever done.
This is truly an awe inspiring place and even after leisurely riding and plenty of soaking in the scenery we still lingered at Parissawampitts Point for quite a while before heading back.
We saw plenty of critters both along the trail over the course of the day and the even more along the dirt roads through the forest on our way out. I missed some shots of wild turkey, plenty of deer, and a porcupine, but I did manage to snap a few useable shots along the way.