★★★★☆ Easy / Grand Canyon North Rim
See ancient ruins, upside down plants and a dripping spring on this pretty, easy hike. The Cliff Spring Hiking Trail gently descends an intimate ravine at the top of the Grand Canyon. Along the way a number of natural treasures are revealed … one-by-one.
TRAILHEAD: Cape Royal Road, Grand Canyon North Rim • DIFFICULTY: mostly easy • DISTANCE: 0.75 Miles (1.5 Miles rt) • APPROX. TIME: 0.5-1 HOUR RT • Starting Elevation: 7,759 • ELEVATION GAIN: -179′ (-13 stories) • APPROX. CALORIES BURNED: 195-225 • BEST TIME OF YEAR: April-September • PETS: no • KID FRIENDLY: yes • FACILITIES: yes (nearby at Cape Royal trailhead) • FEES: $35 per vehicle day pass or $70 annual national parks pass
The Cliff Spring Hiking Trail starts directly across the road from the Angel’s Window overlook pullout in Grand Canyon National Park North. The hike’s rather “nothing to write home about” beginning gently descends a well-maintained, tiered pathway. And reveals nothing of the beauty to come.
Just a short ways into this hike, an interpretive sign points to the ruins of an ancient Native American storage area, hidden beneath a large stone archway. This rudimentary structure was used by the Anasazi People to protect food from both animals and the elements.
The sandstone walls begin to rise higher and higher as the trail descends mildly into the ravine.
As the hike progresses, this small, upper canyon drops further and further beneath the path. Treetops begin to poke upwards from below. And a clear view of the curvilinear canyon walls stretches out ahead. In areas, low overhangs challenge hikers not to bump their heads.
Cliff Spring, the trail’s namesake, makes its appearance a little under a half-mile into the hike. Here, constant drips of water seep from the sandstone overhangs. And abundant moss and and plants grow both upside-down overhead and along the damp, puddle-filled canyon floor.
Lovely views open up a short distance beyond the spring. Wotan’s Throne is visible in an opening between the canyon walls. The Cliff Spring Hiking Trail officially ends 1/2 mile into the hike, in front of a large boulder. It’s possible to continue further. However, the path becomes increasingly overgrown and difficult to follow. Turn around to head back to the trailhead.
Total Nerdery The Anasazi People lived within the upper reaches of the Grand Canyon for thousands of years. Springs and overhung walls, like those found on this hike, provided water and shelter. Please leave their ruins intact to preserve their history.
Resources Click here to download a trail map.
Directions From the intersection of 89A and AZ-67 (in Jacob Lake) take AZ-67 south for 36 miles (past the entry to Grand Canyon National Park) to Cape Royal Road. Turn left onto Cape Royal Road and continue 19.4 miles to a small turnout to view Angel’s Window. The Cliff Spring Trailhead is located directly across the road from this turnout.
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