IMBA Trail Day On The Rainbow Rim Trail – Along The North Rim Of The Grand Canyon
20 miles from the nearest paved road
50 miles from the nearest services
70 miles from the nearest stoplight
20 people, dozens of clinometers, McLeods, Pulaskis, and maps
1 full moon weekend and good times around the campfire
On Saturday, September 29th, the IMBA Trail Care Crew hosted an important trail day at one of the most remote and rewarding mountain bike trails in the US, the Rainbow Rim Trail, located along the North rim of the Grand Canyon. Volunteers from Arizona, California, Colorado, and Utah converged with USFS professionals from the Kaibab and Dixie National Forests to learn sustainable trail building practices, design a stretch of great trail, and convert a portion of an old road bed into single track.
Located on the Kaibab Plateau, the iconic Rainbow Rim Trail flows for some 18 miles, point to point, through Aspen stands overlooking the mighty Grand Canyon. IMBA is working closely with the USFS on a proposed extension of the Rainbow Rim, an action that is sure to please mountain bikers from all areas. The proposed trail extension will effectively turn the trail into a loop.
The Rainbow Rim epitomizes the term “destination trail,” frequented primarily by folks on guided tours, groups taking an annual road trip, and the like. It’s too far away from population centers to ride often, but absolutely worth the occasional trip– and that’s the rub. Without a local IMBA chapter, or even an organized group of regular riders, this Trail Care Crew visit was applied for by the forward thinking North Kaibab Ranger District, USFS.
“We asked for assistance from IMBA with parts of the proposed trail design to make it as good as possible. This trail is very well known, so there will be a high expectation for what we do with it.” said Missy Spandl, Recreation Operations Manager, Kaibab National Forest. Trail Care Crew visits are free to the hosting organization, and selected on a competitive basis.
The volunteers were treated to IMBA lessons in sustainable trail design, and experienced a rare opportunity to make a positive impact on one of the most scenic trails in the country. At work day’s end, volunteers enjoyed riding the trail and camaraderie around the campfire potluck.
“The Rainbow Rim trail has been on my bucket list for about six months.” said Roger Sneed of Sedona, AZ. “The opportunity to come learn more about these trail building skills and advocacy work made it all the better.”
Saturday’s work day featured several hundred feet of road-to-trail conversion, a practice that in this case not only converted old road bed into single track, but did so with an eye toward long term sustainability and desired aesthetics of the trail. Picking the areas with the best natural drainage and trail user flow were all considered. Naturalization efforts included some choke points with natural materials and even tree transplants. The crew bypassed an unsustainable portion of road bed with an adjacent and fully thought out bench cut.
Interested in helping out with the extension of the Rainbow Rim Trail? Have a look at and consider signing the petition to show your support of the proposed extension of the Rainbow Rim Trail. Or, have a look at the Trail Care Crew schedule and register to attend a trail day at this trail or a trail near you. Read more about the Trail Care Crew here and apply for a TCC visit to your area here.