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Rider Canyon - Marble Canyon

Summary: A very nice and scenic canyon with narrows and potholes. Some steep scrambling required to get in and out of the canyon. 
Directions: Follow these directions closely to find Rider Canyon (ignore any minor dirt tracks as you go). From Flagstaff drive north on Highway 89. Turn left on Highway 89A towards Jacob Lake and follow it across the Navajo Bridge. Turn left on a dirt road just past mile post 557. Zero the trip meter on your car and head south on this dirt road. In 2.1 miles bear left at a road junction and cattle guard, at 3.3 miles stay left again. At 4.6 miles you'll reach the Kram Ranch, turn right and pass through a fence. The road heads south for about a half mile then bends east. At 5.6 miles you'll reach another fork, stay left and continue driving. You'll pass a few signs in this section urging you to protect the Brady Pincushion Cactus which grows along the rim in this part of Marble Canyon (please keep your vehicle on established roads). At 11.9 miles from the highway bear left at a junction following a faded brown hiker's sign. At 12.2 miles follow the hiker's sign right. This section of the road has a few rough, rocky sections and you'll follow it right to the canyons edge at 14.2 miles.
Road Conditions: High Clearance Vehicle
Navigation: Easy
Length: ~6 miles
Date Hiked: February, 2002 and October 2004
Weather Conditions: Nice
Required Skills:
Hike Description: At the car park, you'll be right at the edge of Rider Canyon. Look to the left and you'll see a brown hiker's sign pointing the way in, along a crack in the rock. The trail is steep, but easy to follow as it descends through the Kaibab limestone (passing under two large boulders) into the canyon. When you reach the scree slope, the trail fades considerably as it splits into multiple use tracks, all of which lead to the creek bed. Pick the most prominent trail and watch your footing as you descend.
Update (2004): The trail from the rim down into Rider has become more defined since the author first hiked the canyon in 2002 and is considerably easier to follow.
Once in the stream bed make sure there are some cairns in place which mark this spot as the way out, otherwise you could walk right by it. When ready head right and walk down canyon. It's easy and pleasant walking down canyon with little climbing required. You'll make good time, particularly on the many slick rock sidewalks along the way. After a while you'll reach a 12' dry fall. You could either attempt to jump down, but it might be better to look for the fairly well defined trail on the right which leads around this obstacle (though you have to stay up on the side of the canyon for quite a ways before reaching a break that will allow you back into the canyon bottom). Lower down you'll reach a choke stone and drop off into a narrow pool. Backtrack a short ways from this section and look for a cairn and route up and around on canyon left (the left side of the canyon when facing down stream). In the lower part of the canyon you'll pass through some very nice narrows. There are several pour over pools, drop offs and potholes, but you'll be able to bypass all of these obstacles by climbing around on one side of the canyon or the other. Just before reaching the river you'll reach a large pool that may require you to do a thigh deep wade for 20 ft or so if it is full. I suggest removing your shoes and socks to keep them dry through this section. The canyon then opens up and it's a short walk to the Colorado River and House Rock Rapids. There are some large flat rocks next to the river that make for a nice spot for a break. When ready return the way you came.
Rating (1-5 stars):
This is one of the best hikes in the Marble Canyon area. Be aware, however, that some mud in the canyon that looks dry, may in fact be deep and squishy. The author and his wife completed this hike in 4 1/2 hours the first time we did it and 5 1/2 the second (spending an hour at the river watching kayaks and rafts navigate the rapids). 
Maps: Trails Illustrated - Grand Canyon National Park
Books:  Canyon Hiking Guide to the Colorado Plateau - Michael Kelsey
Photos: Click picture for larger view, click your browser's 'Back' button to return to this page.
The descent. Nice section of narrows.
Narrows and pool. Possible wading section.