Jun 172013

Steamboat Mountaint to South of Timp Point Kaibab National Forest Arizona

Not all Grand Canyon views are seen within the National Park.  When visiting the North Rim other options for viewing the canyon can be found in the Kaibab National Forest.  Several points are accessible by gravel roads and although I cruise in a 2-wheel drive pickup truck these roads may be traveled by any high clearance passenger car or SUV, with caution.

Forest Road 271 to Timp Point Kaibab National Forest Arizona

I’ve previously visited some of the western viewpoints like Crazy Jug, Fence Point and Fire Point but am trying to see them all.  So I drove out to Timp Point the other day.  From the paved State Route 67 I followed Forest Roads 22, 270, 222, 206 and 271 for 16 miles.  All very well signed along the way but I still recommend a Kaibab National Forest map.  The road gets narrower and rougher the closer you get to the point.  From FR222 on it’s an extra wide, one lane gravel road through forest of aspen, pine and fir.  15-25 mph was my average speed to be safe and I constantly watched for sharp pointy rocks and the occasional vehicle coming the other way.

Had to slow down a little for extra rough spots but the 1.5 hour gravel drive is certainly worth it.  The views spectacular.

Trail to Timp Point Kaibab National Forest Arizona

From the parking area a short trail of maybe 1/4 mile each way leads to a rocky outcrop which I chose not to boulder hop too far out on.

View West from Timp Point Kaibab National Forest Arizona

Views to the south across canyon, to the north to the canyon walls and west down canyon and beyond.

View West from Timp Point Kaibab National Forest Arizona

I only met two people along the trail and we stopped to chat.  I answered a few questions because that’s what Park Rangers do even when off work.

Rainbow Rim trail sign Kaibab National Forest Arizona

The Rainbow Rim trail joins the many points from Parissawampitts to Timp for a total of 18 miles one way.  This trail is for hiking, biking and horse traffic only.  Picking a middle point and going out either way from a base camp would be ideal.  There is no water so bring lots.

Campsite Timp Point Kaibab National Forest Arizona

Just a few, 3 maybe 4, sweet camping spots along the southern rim of the point are private, spacious and have enough room to easily turn around.  I saw one small trailer in a site.  Sure would have to take it slow to tow out there.

So, when will I learn to bring all the camp gear when I go for a ride to explore a new place?

View South of canyon from campsite Timp Point Kaibab National Forest Arizona

I sat at the edge of Grand Canyon watching an ant. One ant persistently trying to move a carcass at least 8 times its size. Would have made good macro video if I’d been able. That ant was kicking up dirt.  Finally had to go for reinforcements.

Ponderosa Pine Timp Point Kaibab National Forest Arizona

I listened to the wind whisper in the pines, like ocean waves, very meditative. The smell of the Cliff Rose wafting in the air. Bird sounds, until a jet flew over.

Weidemeyer's Admiral in Gambel Oak Timp Point Kaibab National Forest Arizona

A peaceful place to relax in the moving shade of a few giant old pines and enjoy a personal slice of the canyon.

May 202013

I went to Snake Gulch to see Native American rock art, not snakes.  I’d heard this is where to find some of the best preserved prehistoric rock art along the Kaibab Plateau.  And although I only hiked in about 2 1/2 miles out of the 22 mile possibility I saw some very impressive pictographs and petroglyphs.

FR 642 Kaibab NF AZ

Always a beautiful drive through the Kaibab National Forest and FR642 ended on the edge of Kanab Creek Wilderness.  At one time prior to the canyons wilderness designation in 1984 there was a road that accessed Snake Gulch, but now only hikers and equestrians frequent this spiritual experience.  Hiking was very easy with the lack of any significant elevation gain or loss.

Old ranch ruin Snake Gulch Kaibab NF AZ

Just before entering the wilderness area I saw this ruin that surely wasn’t native made but instead was evidence of ranchers once using the gulch to run cattle.

Snake Gulch trail Kanab Creek Wilderness Kaibab NF AZ

I walked the narrow trail keeping my eyes peeled for snakes, scanning back and forth, ears attentive for a insistent rattle.  At first the regularity of grasshoppers jumping from just ahead gave me a start.  Not a lot of other sounds, an occasional bird, but mostly just the whispery wind.  And good thing for a breeze as the sun beat down with no shade in sight.

Snake Gulch trail Kanab Creek Wilderness Kaibab NF AZ

I would stop to scan the irregular canyon walls with their horizontal layers deposited 270 million years ago by an ancient sea.  The power of water carved this canyon later on and left rich soil where the native people planted crops.

Rock shelter along Snake Gulch trail Kanab Creek Wilderness Kaibab NF AZ

They found shelter in shallow caves, a place to call home and raise a family.

Rock art panel Snake Gulch trail Kanab Creek Wilderness Kaibab NF AZ

Several of the Snake Gulch rock art panels are listed on the National Register of Historic Places because of the artistic and distinctive painted and pecked designs that date back as far as 500 BC.  Paint was made from plants or minerals ground into powder and mixed with animal fat or plant oil.

Rock art panel Snake Gulch trail Kanab Creek Wilderness Kaibab NF AZ

They have survived in this timeless environment.  Some are fading from weathering while others have broken off the rock face.  Unfortunately some vandalism has also occurred and could be unintentional by touching and leaving oils behind which causes the paint to deteriorate.  Respect must be observed in this ancient place.  Whether we understand the meanings behind the art doesn’t really matter because the images reflect changes over time for people of the past.

View from rock shelter Snake Gulch Kanab Creek Wilderness Kaibab NF AZ

I continued beyond the shelter a short distance, but it called me back.  I wanted to sit on the well polished rocks that had fallen long before the native people used this place.  Black smoke stains from their fires long ago still clung to the rock.  I felt at peace.

Lizard Snake Gulch Kanab Creek Wilderness Kaibab NF AZ

And other than the spirits, only a lizard joined me for company.

Snake Gulch Kanab Creek Wilderness Kaibab NF AZ

How to get there

From Jacobs Lake Hwy 67, drive west on FR461 for 5 miles then continue west on FR462 for 3 miles to FH22.  Turn left and go 1.5 miles to FR423.  Turn right and go 1.25 miles to FR642.  Follow FR642 for 2 miles to the end at the trailhead.  The gravel road is passable in a sedan, but the last 3 miles could be a bit difficult when wet.

Snake Gulch trail #59 is 44 miles round trip.  Camp nearby and get an early start.  Best to hike in spring or fall as there is absolutely no shade and will get quite hot during summer.

Please visit with respect.