Widforss Trail runs largely across a plateau on the
North Rim on the Grand Canyon in northern Arizona.
It is a 4.8-mile, one-way hike with rim views and a
Ponderosa pine forest. It is named after a noted
CANYON NATIONAL PARK, Ariz. ó Most trails in this
colorful and iconic national park are tough up-and-down
trails. You hike down into the canyon and then hike back
up out of the canyon.
the Widforss Trail on the North Rim is different: Itís a
plateau trail that stays above the rim. In fact, the trail
is generally considered the best plateau trail in the
oversized park in northern Arizona.
trailís elevation changes only 600 feet over the
4.8-mile one-way length of the trail.
is a half-day hike on a well-marked trail. The National
Park Service even provides a 14-stop trail guide for the
big attraction is solitude, even in a park like Grand
Canyon National Park. You wonít see many people along
offers rim views and a Ponderosa pine forest that is mixed
with aspens that turn golden in the fall. Thatís when
the trail is at its colorful best. The forest offers a bit
of shade to hikers, and the plateau temperatures are
cooler than the oven-like conditions in the canyon.
trail provides glimpses of Bright Angel Point, the biggest
tourist spot on the North Rim. The rocky point sits at
8,148 feet between two side canyons and close to the Grand
Canyon Lodge on the North Rim.
first 2 1/2 miles of the Widforrs Trail skirt the canyon
rim and Harvey Meadow. The meadow was once used as a
tourist camp and a staging ground for cross-canyon mule
trips. It is now grassy.
is a cave once used by U.S. Forest Service game warden
"Uncle Jim" Owens, who killed 500 mountain lions
in the area in the early 1900s.
first 2 1/2 miles are the most picturesque section of the
trail. It offers views of the San Francisco Peaks that are
70 miles away to the south across the canyon.
pair of rocky switchbacks lead to the edge of the
Transept, a 4,000-foot-deep gorge. The trail takes you two
miles along the head of the Transept, a tributary of
Bright Angel Creek. It is a deep and sheer-walled ravine.
It provides vistas to the south and east as the canyon
Francois Matthes in the early 1900s declared that the
Transept was grander than Californiaís Yosemite Valley.
trail bends in and out of seven draws.
winds into forests of old-growth Ponderosa pines with its
thick bark that protects trees from forest fires.
trail goes past a giant Ponderosa pine that is nearly 13
feet in diameter. It is likely 300 to 500 years old. There
are also scrubby oaks and maples. In moister and cooler
areas, white fir, Engelmann and blue spruce and aspen
thrive on the North Rim.
trail emerges from the woods after five miles at narrow
and wooded Widforss Point that sits above Haunted Canyon.
the trailís end, Widforss Point offers stellar views of
five rocky temples in the inner canyon. You will also be
able to view Yaki and Mather points 10 miles away on the
point is at elevation 7,811 feet.
biggest drawback is that the trail, at times, winds away
from the canyon edge. It is also used by mule trains.
trail is named after artist Gunnar Widforss, who painted
watercolors of the Grand Canyon. He lived and painted in
the canyon in the 1930s.
is known as the painter of the national parks. The Grand
Canyon was his favorite park. In his paintings, Widforrs
captured the Grand Canyon environment as he saw it in the
1930s. He produced a large number of watercolors known for
their geologic accuracy.
is an easy to moderate hike.
trailhead at 8,080 feet is off U.S. Route 67, the main
park road that leads north from the park to Jacob Lake,
Ariz. The turnoff is 2.7 miles north of the lodge. You
follow a dirt road about a mile to the trailhead.
is no water along the trail. Carry what you will need.
backcountry permit is required if you want to camp along
may see deer, bobcats, porcupines, mountain lions, wild
turkey, coyotes, snakes and lizards. You might even get to
see a large, dark-colored squirrel with tufted ears and a
bushy white tail. It is the Kaibab squirrel, native only
on the Kaibab Plateau on the north side of the Colorado
Grand Canyon park covers 1,900 square miles and gets 4.6
million visitors a year.
is big: 277 miles long and up to 10 miles wide. It can be
5,000 to 6,000 feet deep with 20 layers of rock. It is a
giant canyon of smaller canyons. It is marked by steep
slopes and cliffs. It is hot and dry.
most striking thing about the Grand Canyon are the colors.
the rusty reds, the shades of brown and tan, the dusty
pinks, the golds and yellows. The cliffs, rock walls and
gorges give the canyon an ever-changing hue. The
multicolored rocks are mixed with sagebrush and cedar
visitors gaze into the canyon and then dash off to the
next overlook. The views shift from place to place and as
the light and weather change daily.
North Rim is open from mid-May to mid-October. It gets
lots of snow. It is more remote and less developed than
the South Rim that is open year-round. The two rims may be
10 miles apart but it is a five-hour drive between them.
North Rim is a thousand feet taller than the South Rim.
result, the North Rim gets twice the precipitation of the
South Rim and feeds twice as much water into the Colorado
River than the South Rim canyons. The tributary canyons on
the North Rim carry more water. They tend to be more
deeply cut into the plateau.
intricate system of deeply cut side canyons sets the North
Rim back farther from the river, giving the North Rim its
are other North Rim hiking options. The North Kaibab Trail
is the only North Rim Trail that leads to the Colorado
River. It is a 14-mile trek to the Colorado River. It is
another 7.1 miles to the South Rim.
park itself covers 1.2 million acres, much of which is
inaccessible even to hikers and backpackers.
crowds are thicker on the South Rim, and more tourist
facilities are on that side of the canyon.
North Rim has a wild and remote feeling. It has fewer
trails that drop into the canyon and fewer overlooks.
North Rim has higher cliff faces and offers up-high views
of rock formations within the canyon.
three major overlooks are Bright Angel, Cape Royal and
North Rim offers one spot to see the Colorado River at the
bottom of the canyon. Thatís at Cape Royal.
the South Rim provides more opportunities to look into the
heart of the canyon.
offers better lighting and offers a wider, deeper canyon
than the North Rim does.
North Rim is also home to the historic lodge that was
built in the 1920s by the Union Pacific Railroad. It sits
on the rim and lodgers gather on its patio at sunset to
watch the sun sink into the canyon.
Angel Point Trail runs a half mile from the lodge to a
narrow rock that extends into the canyon above Roaring
Springs and the Transept.
North Rim also offers two other very cool plateau trails:
the Transept and Ken Patrick trails.
aware: About 250 people are rescued annually from the
canyon, the park service reports.
key to visiting Grand Canyon is to plan in advance.
In-park lodging and activities book months in advance.
rides, river raft trips, hikes, lodging and camping spots
book far in advance.
is $20 per vehicle and the pass is good for up to seven
park information, write to National Park Service, P.O. Box
129, Grand Canyon, AZ 86023, 928-638-7888,