few days ago I got back from a vacation that included a few days in the Las Vegas that included seeing Aerosmith in concert. Wow, can those guys still kick some ass on stage! After the Vegas portion of vacation we continued northward and eastward to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. This was my third time out here and Nichol’s first. I first came out here on an Arizona in Summer roadtrip in 2006 and then again on a Flagstaff & North Rim trip in 2010. You don’t come out here for technical riding, you come out here for the incredible scenery and the experience of riding on the only singletrack currently open to mountain bikes along the rim of the Grand Canyon. The Rainbow Rim trail is in the Kaibab National Forest and is miles and miles away from pavement, cell phone coverage and any of the tourist trappings of the Grand Canyon National Park despite the border of the national park being just a few feet below the rim of the canyon in this area. The place requires a commitment to visit but it is well worth it.
We made our way out to the Kaibab Plateau on a Monday and made our way out to the middle of five points that stick out into the canyon, Locust Point. We had the entire point to ourselves.
The view into the Tapeats Amphitheater of the Grand Canyon from our campsite.
Now between an overuse injury and an illness I had been off the bike for a two solid months. The injury was (and still is) tendonitis in my elbows. I had been trying all kinds of things but rest and all I really managed to do was make it worse to the point where it was not only painful to steer the bike, but painful to do all kinds of daily activities. Just about when I was ready to get back on the bike I came down with some nasty flavor of the crud and that kept me off the bike for another couple of weeks. I’m going to call it a blessing in disguise for my elbows. So the following morning when we headed out on the trail the general decline in fitness along with the trail undulating between 7,500 and 7,750 feet was quite a wake-up call for this sea-level slacker.
The good news for me is that the Rainbow Rim trail is not a trail to be bombed. If you come out here to work on your Strava time you are an idiot. This is a stop and smell the flowers kind of place.
We split the Rainbow Rim trail up into two days. On the first day we did an out and back from camp to Parissawampitts Point for a total of 18 miles. I was dragging by time we got back to camp
A killer little meadow
I think aspens are one of the pretty trees there are and I really like how they are intermingled along the trail with the large pines.
MEAT! Big fat cowboy style T-bones cooked over a campfire about 20 feet from the rim. Life is good! There were only a few hours between sunset and moonrise but in that time the stars that could be seen were crazy amazing.
The following morning we did an out of and back from Locust Point to Timp Point. The trail in this direction was just as awesome as the previous day.
Once again, I’m a sucker for aspens.
Lots of wildflowers out showing off
When had some of the locals out watching us.
When we got to Timp Point, I wanted to show Nichol the Thunder River coming out of the side of the canyon. I thought I was looking in the right direction but was quite befuddled.
It was not until after the trip when I reviewed my photos from the 2010 that I figured out my mistake. The photo above is from the 2010 trip. Notice the slightly different angle of the “slot” of the canyon in the above shot and the one of it from this years trip. I had forgotten that we hiked down a trail at Timp Point that goes further out onto the point. It sheds off quite a bit of elevation, but you have to do this to get the right angle to be able to see further down into the canyon that reveals Thunder River.
Here is a zoomed in shot of Thunder River. Those are not bushes but trees!
There is an 8-mile extension of the Rainbow Rim trail in the works. It will consist of 3 miles and change of new singletrack and a decommissioned forest service road will be converted to trail. I rode about 1.5 miles or so of the roughed in new single track beyond Timp Point before heading back to Timp Point. It will be a sweet extension when complete. The cruise back to Locust Point was just as awesome as the outgoing leg and the chunk of the extension I did brought the days mileage up to 21 miles of coolness. We had another lovely evening and we casually broke camp the following morning to start the road trip back to San Diego. This was such an awesome trip and well worth the effort to get out here. This will not be my last time out here.