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This is likely a great time to hike this trail!  Check out "Prefered" months below, keep in mind this is an estimate.

Point Imperial Trail, AZ

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Guide 19 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Northwest > North Rim
3.3 of 5 by 8
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Difficulty 1.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance One Way 2.6 miles
Trailhead Elevation 8,800 feet
Elevation Gain 79 feet
Accumulated Gain 277 feet
Avg Time One Way 1.5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 3.52
Backpack Connecting Only
Dogs not allowed
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21  2019-07-21
Mount Hayden
14  2018-06-04 Tortoise_Hiker
3  2018-05-25
Ken Patrick Trail
14  2015-07-28 Oregon_Hiker
14  2014-09-29
Nankoweap Trail
1  2014-09-18 Crzy4AZ
25  2013-08-30 tibber
24  2012-09-01
Cape Royal Exploits
Page 1,  2
Author Nan
author avatar Guides 2
Routes 0
Photos 689
Trips 105 map ( 703 miles )
Age 58 Female Gender
Location Mesa, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Jun, Aug, Sep, Jul → 6 AM
Seasons   Spring to Autumn
Sun  6:11am - 6:34pm
Official Route
0 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
road to recovery
by Nan

Likely In-Season!
Watch the sun rise from Point Imperial and stretch your legs on this short but rewarding trail before the long drive from the North Rim back to Phoenix (or other points south)! This is an easy hike through an area of the Kaibab forest recovering from wildfire.

The trail starts at the Point Imperial parking lot and heads north; some maps, like the Falcon Guide, show it as a northerly extension of the Ken Patrick Trail. As the road falls away to the left you enter the old burn area, now dominated by the towering skeletons of pines and aspens. A stunning variety of pioneer species now thrive in this area ravaged by the 2000 Outlet fire. About a mile in, the trail swings briefly out to the Rim, and provides a couple informal viewpoints into Marble Canyon, before turning back inward across the plateau.

From here on meadows full of wildflowers alternate with thick stands of aspen saplings, and woodpeckers knock about in the pines. Birds are abundant, and keep your eyes peeled for mule deer and kaibab squirrels. This is really an excellent hike if you're a botanist or have an interest in re-establishment of an ecosystem following a forest fire.

This is an easy-going trail, well-maintained and mostly flat. If you're a flatlander and just hiked out of the Canyon the day before you might get a bit winded on one of the few gentle hills. There's no summit or other goal here, so turn around when you're ready to go back. Mileage given is to/from the junction with Saddle Mountain Trail, which continues on another few miles to the Nankoweep TH.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2007-08-28 Nan
  • Grand Canyon Use Area Boundaries - Dynamic Map

Grand Canyon NPS Details
4.0 mi. / 6.4 km round-trip; 2 hours approximate round-trip hiking time. This easy trail passes through areas burned by the 2000 Outlet Fire and ends at the north park boundary. From there connections are possible to the Nankoweap Trail and U.S. Forest Service roads.

One-Way Notice
This hike is listed as One-Way.

When hiking 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.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

Most recent Triplog Reviews
Point Imperial Trail
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a quick stop at Point Imperial before doing our Cape Final hike. The rain threatened for our drive up. We got out of the car and started eating our sandwich when it decided to rain of course. So we finished our lunch in the car. Still had a bit of a view of Mt Hayden which is pretty cool. We didn't have to wait too long for the rain to subside.

We walked back and forth to the various sides of the Point and down to the railed section. The weather would continue to threaten but the sun did come out for a little while. There weren't too many people out. The views were exceptional as usual :DANCE: . Hopefully next year I will actually do this hike.

A video showing 2013 (cloudy and rainy) vs 2012 (sunshine and poofy clouds)
[ youtube video ] (around 5 mins)
A video of our sunflower excursion at Sunset Crater Volcano Natl Monument: [ youtube video ]
Point Imperial Trail
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Cape Royal Exploits
After we hiked the Uncle Jim trail, the plan was to wander out to Cape Royal - taking all the little side-hikes we could fit in - and have a sunset/moonrise picnic out at the point. It was a delightful plan that (for once) went pretty much as expected. Shocking!

We started out by driving out to Point Imperial for lunch. Imperial is the highest point on either rim, and it's lofty vantage gives some real perspective. You can see the flat of the plateau on the South Rim like nowhere else, and it's a straight shot right down the middle of the Little Colorado River Gorge if you have a strong enough camera lens (I don't). The countless spires, temples and points that make up the north rim are all outlined in great relief here, especially when there are summer thunderstorms rolling through the canyon as there were that day. Not a bad spot for lunch!

Then we hiked out to Cape Final. This trail was an unexpected gem, it was easy hiking but had very nice forest, some fantastic views and not many tourists to get in the way (well, except for us). The trail leads out to a point with amazing views of the east portion of the canyon, including the infamous Supergroup formations of the Escalante. We picked up one of our scattered hikers along the way, which added even one more pleasant surprise to the trip. I would definitely do Cape Final again, particularly if I needed a nice place to get away from the crowds of Cape Royal and Point Imperial.

Then we explored the Cape Royal area, including the 'Wedding' site and the picnic area where we had an amazing dinner spread out. There's no denying that the ABC group eats well when they get together, and this was certainly no exception!

By the time the moon was rising, we were tired and ready to head home, so I didn't get to spend much time moonlight gazing. Clouds would have made it difficult anyhow.

Another great night with fun people, and an easy day to get us ready for the big attempt on the old BA in a couple days!
Point Imperial Trail
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We stopped at this Point to have our lunch on the way to Cape Final. We took the tourist walk down to the overlook and then came back up to the top. We walked around a bit before having our sandwiches and a beer. Such a wonderful lunch vista :y: . There were big puffy clouds and the vistas were pretty clear. There were storms to the south but nothing threatening.

Here is a 3:45 minutes video of our time at Point Imperial:
Oh, may I suggest you change the quality on youtube to HD1080. You can find that setting next to the minutes just below the video screen (or next to the clock icon)
Point Imperial Trail
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This was our first stop on the "Winding Road" tour at the North Rim that would include 4-5 stops. Here we just walked along the side of the rim bordering the parking lot from the south to the north ending at the point where you walk down to get a closer view. We didn't have time for all of the full trails so this one was put on the "next time" list. There are several trail options along the way to Cape Royal at the end of the winding road to the east of the main Park highway.

We walked around the area and captured some great photos of the haze that inherited the gorge this fine morning. It really was very artistic looking. There were a few condors flying around on the north side of the point. I think I have a picture of one on a ledge and one in the air.
Point Imperial Trail
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I headed to the North Rim for a long weekend.

I stopped by the Back Country Office and made some changes to my permit with Ranger Robin Roberts. Then I proceeded to the Lodge where I was able to get a dinner reservation. I drove to Point Imperial and the Ken Patrick Trail. Monsoons were threatening. I hiked north on the Ken Patrick Trail to the Saddle Mountain TH. Then back to Point Imperial and south on the Ken Patrick Trail for a ways. I cut it short so that I could get to Cape Royal and still make my dinner reservation at the Lodge. I had a very nice dinner of Utah Ruby Trout and a Cactus Cosmo - prickly pear vodka and cranberry juice. After dinner I hiked around the Lodge area and out to Bright Angel Point. I wish I had brought my tripod to get some great lightning strikes on the San Francisco Peaks. I drove back to Point Imperial. No camping is allowed at Point Imperial but there are permitted areas surrounding it. I hiked a few hundred yards into the Thompson Canyon use area and pitched my Copper Spur UL2. Shortly after sundown the gentle thunderstorm lulled me to sleep.

I got up for the sunrise at Point Imperial. Not particularly spectacular today. I used my Granite Gear lightweight pack setup today. I was going to take my OR Bug Bivy (16oz) and Integral Designs siltarp (8oz) but because of the monsoon threat I took my MSR Hubba (3lbs 6oz). I took my Esbit stove (4oz with fuel) instead of my Jetboil (1 lb 3oz with fuel). I headed to the North Kaibab TH and hiked leisurely to Cottonwood Campground. The campground was empty. I set up in campground 10 because it has the best shade and is close to the water spigot and toilets. The plan was to head to Upper Ribbon Falls and the granary ruins. I headed on my way. Halfway across the bridge my better judgement kicked in. It was about 102° and getting hotter. So instead of turning right and heading up the steep hill and the couple of miles to Upper Ribbon and the granary, I turned left and hiked the 1/2 mile to Ribbon Falls. I spent a couple of hours just chillin' and reading and headed back to camp. At 1600 I was still the only party at Cottonwood. I explored a little and found the special pool in Bright Angel Creek just west of the Ranger House. I relaxed in the pool for a while then headed back to my campground. An NPS volunteer came by to check permits and we had a nice talk. I thought he said his name was Clyis. He had been a teacher in Mesa but his contract wasn't renewed. So he had moved back to the Grand Canyon where he had grown up. He was hoping to get a position with the Park Service. I didn't realize it at the time but I was speaking to a legend. He headed back to the Aiken house. Around 1730 a commercial group of 4 backpackers Lawrence from Pigmy Guides arrived. I don't think these 4 had ever backpacked before. I helped them set up and learned some cooking tips from Lawrence. Around 1800 a group of 5 Aggies showed up. I went back to my camp to make dinner. Between my camp and the water I saw a pink buzzworm (Crotalus abyssus) crossing the trail. Just about the most docile buzzworm I have ever seen. I fashioned a sophisticated Flintstone windbreak for my Esbit and enjoyed dinner. A German couple showed up about 1830. So only these 4 groups for the 11 campsites at Cottonwood. No rain.

I slept in a little. I started my climb back to the North Rim. I made great time up to the Supai Tunnel. The mule train was ready to head out so I rested to put some distance between us. The thermometer at Supai Tunnel already was reading over 90°. At 7,200' with about a mile and 800' to go I started bonking. I would walk for a couple of hundred steps then find some shade to rest in while I caught my breath. I could tell I was getting close because of all of the tourons (a special breed of moronic tourists) on the trail. I got to my truck, set up my chair and savored the accomplishment.
I drove to the Visitor Center to buy a Bruce Aiken book of paintings. I found out that Clyis was Silas Aiken, Bruce's son and the lemonade stand kid. I wandered around the North Rim and Jacob Lake savoring every last second before heading home to the heat.

Map Drive
Paved - Car Okay

To hike
From the Grand Canyon North Rim Visitor's Center, head north and follow the signs to Point Imperial, about 11 miles. TH is on the north end of the parking lot and well signed.
128 GB Flash Drive... $14
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