Alone in the North
This hike begins at the base of the East Rim of the Kaibab Plateau, about 7 miles (as the crow or California Condor flies) west of the Colorado River. When you reach the rim, you can see many miles of surrounding countryside, including an elevated view of the Grand Canyon. The vast majority of the trail is in the Saddle Mountain Wilderness. This trail receives very little use, as evidenced by the thick overgrowth of oak and other trees in the middle one-third of the trail. I gave this hike a route-finding rating of 3.0, which could change for the better if somebody came through with a machete, or change for the worse if the trees continue to grow and choke the trail further. However, you're in a canyon, so it would be really hard to actually get "lost."
The 20-mile stretch of dirt road leading up to the trialhead is open to camping. Due to the remoteness of the trailhead and the benefit of getting an early start during the summer, you may want to camp somewhere along this stretch, and start hiking the next morning.
As described here, this hike begins at the base of the East Rim of the Kaibab Plateau. You could also start on the East Rim and hike down; however, the perennial water is only in the upper section of the canyon, so a top-to-bottom hike would require you to carry a lot more water. Setting up a shuttle would require a ton of driving, so I don't recommend it. You could do this as a day hike, but as long as you made the long drive out to the trailhead, you might as well make it a two-day backpacking trip. The perennial water in the upper reaches is pretty reliable, as evidenced by reliance on North Canyon Creek as a stronghold for a genetically-unadulterated population of endangered Apache trout. (See here for a description of recent enhancements of the trout's habitat.) In June 2010, the lower extent of the water was about 5 miles up from the trailhead. Bring a water purification mechanism; the creek water is abundant and tasty.
As you leave the trailhead, you immediately drop into a wash, which is the lower extent of North Canyon. The wash is vegetated with high desert flora, but junipers line the canyon's edges. This part of the trail heats up very quickly, which is why an early start is recommended. The first major landmark is a large alcove containing a good amount of Indian rock art. (Petroglyphs? Pictographs? I can't remember which.)
After a mile or two, the high desert flora gives way to bigger vegetation (which is a mixed blessing because it offers shade, but was VERY overgrown as of June 2010). A couple miles later, the thick vegetation opens up into ponderosa pine forest. The pines eventually give way to mixed conifer forest. Somewhere near the transformation from pine forest to mixed conifer forest, you'll reach (1) the lower extent of the perennial creek and (2) the junction with Trail #7, which goes about 1.5 miles up to the East Rim Viewpoint, although not necessarily in that order.
Assuming that you're doing this as a backpacking trip, there are two logical options for camping: (1) camp in the canyon near the creek -- taking care to honor Forest Service regulations regarding minimum campsite distance from the creek -- or (2) hike up to the East Rim and camp up on the top. I recommend that you set up camp in the canyon near the creek, grab a flashlight, hike up to the East Rim, enjoy the changing colors of the countryside as the sun sets, and then hike back down to camp in twilight. Notably, the East Rim faces east, so sunset will probably pale in comparison to the sunrise.
Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.
This is a moderately difficult hike.
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.
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