This is a connecting trail in the Grand Canyon. It is primarily used to connect the South Kaibab and Bright Angel Trails, but with the Anasazi ruins on the north side of the river it can be used to connect with the North Kaibab as well.
Both ends of this trail start at bridges over the Colorado River. Both have some history, I am sure, but I don't know it. The western bridge carries the water pipeline for the South Rim, and probably the water to Phantom Ranch as well. Just east of the trail and it's eastern bridge there is an old cable and hand cart kind of device that goes across the river. I recall reading that it was a historical means of transportation over the Colorado River, but I didn't note the significance. Sorry. Either way, this is a trail with some history to it, and really the bridges are the least of it.
Though the trail runs on the south side of the river, the action is on the north side of it. Phantom Ranch, Bright Angel Creek, the Anasazi ruins, and Bright Angel Campground are all on the north side. If you are just passing through or down for the day, you really ought to stop in at one of those locations. Odds are, you'll need to for some water. If you cross the river to access water and you are entering and leaving via the same trail, as was the case for me, the River Trail provides a nice alternative to the trail you already hiked, and it makes an excellent opportunity for a loop when combined with another trail.
The trail from east to west is as follows. After the bridge there is a short tunnel, and then a series of switchbacks which ascend the canyon walls and gain roughly 150 feet. From there you traverse along the river for some time to make the total length approximately one mile in length. You lose some elevation as you drop down to the junction with the western bridge over the river, and the Bright Angel Trail. The trail is maintained for mules and humans, and is in excellent shape. If down in the Canyon on any of the feeder trails, it is worth hiking this trail. I know I liked it. - Sep 06 2010 Jim_HOne-Way Notice:
This hike is listed as One-Way. When you hike several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example