||Rainbow Rim Trail
Not Exactly in Utah
The Rainbow Rim trail lies on the northern edge of the Grand Canyon at
an average altitude of 7700 feet. 18 miles in length, it links five
viewpoints on the edge of the canyon. The riding is easier-intermediate in
biking-skills requirement. Most climbs are mellow and followed by plenty of flat riding.
You can ride a piece of it, or all of it.
View to the west from the North Timp
area. Photos and review by Bruce on June
|I'm nominating this trail for "honorary Utah
status" because Utah riders actually live closest to this trail. Cut
off in the "Arizona Strip," it's a long way from Arizona's
population centers. And because I didn't find a source of comprehensive
information about this trail, we'll stick it here among southern Utah's
rides. You're welcome.
At the North Timp trailhead, which has
some of the best views.
||There's no fee to drive into this area and ride the trail.
The only "civilization" along the trail are the fenced trailhead
parking areas, map signs at each trailhead, and occasional carsonite trail markers.
Nearest services are on Highway 67, around 22 dirt-road miles away.
A rider heads south from Locust.
|Primitive camping is allowed near the trailheads. There's no
water and no bathrooms. It's pack-in/pack-out. All the campers I saw were
at Locust at the midpoint of the trail. Many riders do one direction
out-and-back from Locust the first day, then the second direction
out-and-back on the next.
In the Locust trailhead area were
several campers. This tent is midway between the trail (foreground) and
||A full-trail one-day out-and-back is 36 miles with 3100
vertical feet of climbing. The 36 miles isn't as tough as it sounds. The
trail is pretty easy, so you can motor right along.
I started from St. George after sunrise, did 39 miles of trail
including the new extension (while stopping to take pictures and interview
other riders about their ride plan and logistics), and was back home
before sundown. On-trail time was 5 hours.
Typical view in the flat areas between
canyons. The deeper green is grass; the blue-green is small lupine bushes
|If you can do a 20-miler in the Wasatch, you can do this
full trail out-and-back in one day. My suggestion is, start at Locust. Do
one half, then return to your car for lunch and to restock on drinks. Then
hit the second half.
The riders I met included both racing hammerheads and overweight
newbies who were just learning how to mountain bike. The Rainbow Rim can
satisfy a wide variety of riders.
Looking west. A control-burn forest
fire the day before my ride messed the views somewhat. Some haze is
||If you have a SODS (your Significant Other Driving
Shuttle) and plan a point-to-point with shuttle, I'd suggest
starting in the north at Parissawampitts. Your pickup will be at Timp on
the south end. This puts two hard-to-ride loose steep spots on the
Note for shuttlers: There's a cutoff road that ties the five entry
roads together, located about half-way between the viewpoint trailheads
and FR 206. This looks like it would save about 6 miles of dirt road, but
I didn't drive it to see whether it's smooth or ugly.
Note for loop-lovers: Don't even consider using this dirt road to
form a loop. This option won't save you any work or any time. And you
didn't come all this way to ride a dirt road.
Lupine blooms next to a downed log.
|From north to south, the distances are approximately
6-3-6-3. Locust is almost exactly midpoint in the ride. Here's the exact
Parissawampitts (214) to Fence (293): 5.8
Fence (293) to Locust (294): 3.2
Locust (294) to North Timp (271A): 6.3
North Timp (271A) to Timp (271): 2.9
For a half-mile or so near most
viewpoints, there will be occasional spots where you can see down into the
||Although you'll do a little cliffside riding, most of the
time you'll be on smooth forested singletrack. You'll deviate away from
the canyon to descend through a drainage, then return to the next
viewpoint. Avoid riding down any trails marked with the arrow-and-dot
viewpoint marker -- these are short hiking trails and end abruptly at the cliff edge.
There will be some spots where the trail is covered with angular chunks of
the Kiabab Limestone that forms the top edge of the Grand Canyon.
The arrow pointing to a dot indicates
a viewpoint spur trail.
|The forest is mostly long-leaf pine, with occasional small
clusters of aspen. There are pinion and scrub oak near the canyon edge.
The flora is not lush by northern Utah standards. On the flats there's a
relatively open understory with occasional fields of grass or lupine. A
few flowers may be found on cooler slopes where the trails passes through a ravine.
||Navigation is simple. The only trail forks are at the
viewpoints, where a path leads up to the fenced parking area for that
trailhead. There may be a few viewpoint spurs, but they're usually
well-marked enough to avoid confusion.
Note that Arizona does not use Daylight Savings Time. My GPS unit
displayed the local time, one hour earlier than Utah time. If you're
planning to bike late, don't get fooled by an "early sundown."
I never did spot the Colorado River.
It's down there somewhere.
|The top temperatures during my ride were mid-80s, but the
shade of the trees and dry air (and the non-brutal pedaling) kept me
feeling cool on a day when St. George hit 108. I even caught a little bit
of rain in the afternoon. Thunderstorms are an almost-daily event on the
North Rim in late summer, so come prepared.
The nearest services are back on Highway 67. There's gas and food at
the store just north of where FR 22 starts. If you like developed camping,
the De Motte campground is also right at the junction between 67 and 22.
Climbing out of a ravine between
Locust and North Timp.
||Allow a little extra travel time for the gravel and dirt
roads. Although FR 22 is wide and built up with gravel, I found it to be
washboard and slower going than I'd expected. If you have bikes on a
roof-rack, allow an hour for the dirt roads.
Looking east on the new extension
trail, eastbound from Timp trailhead. Only a mile of this trail was
complete in 2015.
Put this ride on your bucket list.
Smooth riding between Fence and
||Getting there: Take the Hurricane exit from
I-15 and proceed east on Highway 9 to Hurricane, then take Highway 59
eastbound. 59 will become Arizona 389. In Fredonia, turn south (right)
onto US 89A. After climbing to the top of the mountain, turn right at
Jacob Lake onto Arizona 67. Drive 26 miles south. Just after passing
Kiabab Lodge and the De Motte Campground, turn right onto FR 22. Stay on
22 for 10.5 miles, then turn left on FR 206. Drive southbound to your
intended trailhead road on 206. The first option comes in 3.5 miles, FR
214 westbound 8 miles to Parissawampitts. Note that the roads to Fence and
Locust have a combined beginning off 206, as do North Timp and Timp.
Terrain Map / Driving Map for printing:
GPS Track file:
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