A short walk beneath the Walhalla Plateau on the Grand Canyon’s North Rim, Cliff Spring Trail rewards visitors with plateau and rim views, a well-preserved granary of the Ancestral Puebloan people, and as its name suggests, a refreshing spring tucked away beneath a rustic alcove.
You’ll find the trailhead by driving along Highway 67 south of Jacob Lake, Arizona. Drive to the Entrance Station at the Grand Canyon’s North Rim and continue through the park for approximately 10 miles (16 km) until you find the Cape Royal/ Point Imperial Road junction. From here, take a right toward Cape Royal and find the sign marked “Cape Final Trail Parking” 12 miles (19 km) in. The Cliff Springs trailhead will be located about 2 miles (3.2 km) south of here.
The Ancestral Puebloan ruins can be found a mere 300 ft (91 m) into the trail, beneath the shade of a huge Kaibab rock formation. The slab of stone that makes up the formation soon starts to become an overhead cliff and within a few feet the seeps between the rock begin to leak. The trail soon stretches into an alcove, where the main attraction, Cliff Springs is tucked snugly into a bed of mosses. From here, visitors are also treated to the sight of Kendrick Mountain and San Francisco Peaks, 60 miles (97 km) into the horizon, as well as Wotans Throne and the Clear Creek tributaries.
Beyond Cliff Springs, the trail continues for another half a mile (.8 km) to better expose you to the Grand Canyon’s notorious changing ecosystem. Here, you’ll find that the ponderosa pine you started out with has transcended into a rich botanic variation including agave and buffalo-berry, as well as mormon tea and serviceberry.
The trail’s end offers views of the Cape Royal peninsula, the Kaibab Formation, Coconino sandstone, and the Vishnu Temple.