After finishing my day hike down to Ribbon Falls along the North Kaibab Trail, I’ve got enough time before my shuttle back to the lodge to go and have a look at Bright Angel Point. From the North Kaibab trailhead, I briefly follow the snow-covered Bridle Trail which heads up from the carpark.
The Bridle Trail soon meets the Transept Trail; both trails go to the North Rim Lodge, but the Transept Trail is far more scenic as it follows the edge of the Grand Canyon rim.
There are soon views toward the south-west as the trail closely follows the edge of the rim, above the Transept Canyon, or “The Transept” (after which the trail is obviously named).
A bit further along the trail is a better view of the Transept Canyon, which runs at right angles to the main canyon. It was named by geologist Clarence Dutton in 1882 due to how it crosses the north-south Bright Angel Canyon at an angle like the arms of a cruciform church, noting it was “one of the finest and perhaps most picturesque gorges in the whole Kaibab front.”
The trail passes the North Rim Campground, and heads away from the rim for a short distance as it crosses a small gully.
It’s not long until the trail is back near the edge of the rim, with more panoramic views framed by fir trees.
It’s about two miles (3km) from the the North Kaibab trailhead to the first formal viewing platform, just below the Grand Canyon North Rim Lodge.
From the lookout there’s a great view of the long Oza Butte on the opposite side of Transept Canyon, named after a Native American Paiute word for a narrow necked basket.
Bright Angel Point Trail
Somewhere along here, the Transept Trail becomes the Bright Angel Point Trail as is passes a second lookout platform. There are a handful of people around, but I have the paved trail mostly to myself as the North Rim Lodge has closed for the year. I suspect it would be a very different experience a few months ago.
The paved Bright Angel Point Trail descends gently along a very narrow finger of rock, with a sheer drop on both sides.
On one side of the trail is the setting sun (it’s about 45min from sunset), and on the other the rising moon…
There are some great views all along the trail, as I make my way slowly to the lookout at the end.
It’s only about 0.4 miles (700m) from the North Rim Lodge to Bright Angel Point, a lookout perched at the end of the narrow ridge; for the best view you can clamber to the top of a small outcrop above the paved lookout.
There’s a spectacular vista from the fenced lookout and the rock outcrop: to the south the Transept Canyon intersects with the larger Bright Angel Canyon, which goes all the way to the Colorado River (which you can’t see from here). To the east of Bright Angel Canyon is a series of buttes: Deva Temple, Brahma Temple and Zoroaster Temple. It’s one of the best Grand Canyon vistas, equally any on the South Rim.
To the south is the snow-covered Humphreys Peak, the highest natural point and second most prominent peak (after Mount Graham) Arizona with a height of 12,637 feet / 3,852m.
I start heading back shortly before the sun sets, as I think the previous lookouts near the start of the Bright Angel Point Trail offer a better sunset view.
Just before the sun dips below Oza Butte, it highlights the cliffs above the Bright Angel Canyon.
There’s a bit of light left as I reach the Transept Trail.
I’ve got about 45min to get back to the North Kaibab trailhead where I’m being picked up at 6:30pm; plenty of time for a few more photo stops to capture the gradually fading orange glow above Oza Butte to the west.
This hike been the perfect end to a day filled with awe-inspiring Grand Canyon vista, and I’m glad I was able to visit the North Rim at one of the quietest times of of the year.
Getting to Bright Angel Point
The short hike to Bright Angel Point is only about 0.8 miles (1.2km) return from the North Rim Lodge. If you’re starting at the end of the North Kaibab Trail, it’s five miles (8.2km) – slightly less if coming from the North Rim campground – so allow 2-3 hours.
The Grand Canyon North Rim is inaccessible by road from October/November (depending on the timing of the first big winter storm) until 15 May, when Highway 67 is closed by a locked gate at Jacobs Lake. Outside winter, the North Rim is a 265mi / 425km or 3.5 hour drive from Las Vegas or 207mi / 333km from Flagstaff.
- National Park Service (NPS) – Transept Trail
- National Park Service (NPS) – Bright Angel Point
- Geogypsy – Hiking the Transept trail
For a summary of all hikes at the North Rim and South Rim, visit the Guide to Grand Canyon.
Katrina Hemingway (D2) · December 18, 2022 at 6:59 am
Fantastic. A bucket list hike for me. Are you back there now on a second trip this year? Jelo!
oliverd :-) · December 20, 2022 at 8:37 pm
Thanks Katrina… no, back in Sydney again. My second US trip was back in early December and just a week!