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Erosion Forces Temporary Closures of Two Trails in Grand Canyon National Park


Erosion has forced restrictions and temporary closures on the North Kaibab Trail on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Mikeccross photo via flickr.

Erosion crafted the Grand Canyon, and so it's not terribly surprising that erosion has forced park officials to temporarily close or limit travel on two trails until repairs can be made.

The Tanner Trail on the South Rim and the North Kaibab Trail on the North Rim have been closed and/or restricted to travel for varying periods. The Tanner Trail was shut down on October 22 as a result of a rockfall that damaged the foot path. The North Kaibab Trail was restricted to foot traffic on January 10 after a rock slide damaged a 20-foot section of the trail.

The damage to the Tanner Trail occurred about one mile below the trailhead and affects about 1,500 linear feet of the trail, as well as quite a few switchbacks. Because of the steepness of slope, extent of damage, dangerous footing and unstable rock, the trail was closed until repairs could be made. Original estimates were that repairs would take about four weeks. However, due to extreme weather conditions and the unique topography of the area, crews have repeatedly had to delay their work.

Currently several feet of snow and ice are burying the trail. These conditions have caused the park to suspend all work on the trail, and there is no time-line for when repairs might be completed. The Tanner Trail will remain closed to all traffic until further notice.

The North Rim’s North Kaibab Trail was restricted to foot traffic on January 10 after a rock slide damaged a portion of the trail. The damage occurred approximate 3 miles north of Phantom Ranch. It was determined that trail conditions allowed for continued hiker access, but that the damaged section of trail was too narrow for stock use. Private, cross-canyon stock use has been suspended until the trail could be repaired.

Repairs to the North Kaibab Trail are scheduled to begin on February 8. Due to the nature of the repairs, unsafe conditions will exist when the work is in progress. As a result, the Park Service will periodically close the trail for up to one week at a time from the trailhead on the North Rim to the damaged area approximately 3 miles north of Phantom Ranch. The rest of the North Kaibab Trail, from Phantom Ranch north approximately 3 miles to the damaged area, will not be affected and will remain open to foot traffic. Private, cross-canyon stock use will not resume until all repairs are completed.

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