Stories From Grand Canyon National Park
As Shown in Penny Post Cards
From the Collection of Thomas Alan Ratz




On Hermit Trail
Grand Canyon, Arizona

Just past the junction with the Dripping Springs Trail is the beginning of the red sandstone cliffs, 1,500 feet below the rim. Here the trail begins the descent into Hermit Gorge. The Grand Canyon is truely named "The Geologists' Paradise."

Top of the
Red Sandstone Cliffs

Hermit Trail is built on the most approved engineering lines. It is four feet wide and descends by easy grades and long zig-zags to the plateau. From there, the old Tonto Trail connects with Bright Angel, Grand View, and other Canyon trails to the river.

The Hermit Trail
Above Santa Maria Springs

The views from Hermit Trail are wider than from almost any other canyon trail; the formation of the buttes and mountains more majestic, suggesting colossal cathedrals.

"Although you think you have spelt out every temple and peak and escarpment, as the angle of the sunlight changes there begins a ghostly advance of colossal forms from the farther side, and what you have taken to be the ultimate wall is seen to be made up of still isolated sculptures, revealed now for the first time."

Along the Cliffs On Hermit Trail

From Red Top, the top of the red sandstone cliffs, to the head of Cathedral Stairs, the trail leads along the steep east wall of the Hermit Gorge, almost on a level.

Here, on wide shelves which afford the safest position from which to obtain views into the heart of the narrow cleft in which Hermit Creek flows, the trail descends by easy steps, and by a long stretch of level grade, corresponding to the plateau on the opposite side of Hermit Creek, where the Boucher Trail is located.

The intermediate points of interest being Santa Maria Spring and Four-Echo Rock, (where stop is made for water and lunch.)
Between Santa Maria Springs and Cathedral Stairs is Four-Mile Camp, Point Lookout, the Red Zigzags and Breezy Point.

Halt At Santa Maria Springs

11:00 a.m. - Mules and guides await you at the head of Hermit Trail.

One and a half hour's ride from the trailhead to Santa Maria Springs.

Rest for half an hour and have a box lunch in the shady rest hut. Arrive at Hermit Camp around 3:00 p.m.

On the Hermit Trail

"A trail 'de luxe' into the heart of the Grand Canyon," is the description that has been given Hermit Trail, leading from the rim into the pit of the great chasm.

For fully a mile and a half this almost level stratum is followed - the Canyon beyond rapidly opening out and revealing its mysterious wonders and marvels, as each step brings one nearer to the river.

Great Terraces & River Gorge
From the Hermit Trail

"The Panorama is the
real overmastering charm.
It is never twice the same."

1,700 Feet Below the Rim

The "Trail Through the Rainbow's Paintbox," is the easiest way to the heart of the Canyon.

As the changing lights bring into prominence different mural features, or the moving clouds cast their revealing shadows on first one, than another, of the temples and towers, the reverent beholder feels that he is on holy ground.

From Breeze Point

From Breeze Point, 1,800 feet below the rim on Hermit Trail. It is indeed supurlative in color, in shadow, in form, in majesty, in variety and in general effect.

The large block of stone which can be seen in the foreground of the picture, gives one a pretty fair idea of the resistless power of erosion.

Cathedral Stairs, Hermit Trail

Here the end of Hermit Point is reached, and at once the the whole panorama, on both sides of the river, is opened up to the enraptured vision. On this point one may linger for hours, if time permits.

The Cathedral Stairs, is an abrupt descent through the blue limestone by a succession of stair-like steps or short zig-zags.

Then comes the Long Drag, the Serpent, the junction with Tonto Trail, and the welcome of Hermit Camp.

This imposing cliff is made up of Redwall Limestone. The Redwall is blue-gray by nature, yet, when capped by Supai Sandstone, it becomes stained from the red pigments that wash down from above.

On Cathedral Stairs, Hermit Trail

Hermit Trail is four feet wide all the way, with a low protecting wall on the outside and the engineers laid it out in relatively easy grades, suggesting little of the old time mountain trail.

"Looking down more than half a mile into this fifteen by two-hundred eighteen mile paint pot, I continually ask: Is any fifty miles of Mother Earth that I have known as fearful, or any part as full of glory, as full of God?" - Joaquine Miller

The vertical drop through the Redwall, from the top of Cathedral Stairs, down into Hermit Camp is 1,200 feet. This is the second of two major elevations changes on the Hermit Trail. The first being from the trailhead down into Hermit Basin. That's a drop of 1,300 feet.

Looking Down Cathedral Stairs on Hermit Trail

From this point an easy series of zig-zags in the shattered and well-covered slope of the redwall limestone leads the trail on to the plateau beneath, to Hermit Camp, a commodious "half-way house" for rest and refreshments.

All the way down, the strong scenic features of the Canyon remain in evidence, and the arrival on the plateau but enhances their glory and beauty.

Towering Cliffs
Above Hermit Camp

At the first level, 3,000 feet below the rim, is Hermit Camp, maintained for those desiring to remain a while in the depths of the Canyon.

From this plateau, the outlines of the Canyon's features are projected against the perfect turquoise of the Arizona sky.

Continue on the Hermit Trail to Hermit Creek and the Inner Gorge

Show the top part of the Hermit Trail from the Trailhead to Dripping Springs Junction

Explore the Boucher Trail in a 1910 trip report by George Wharton James

Drive the Hermit Rim Road and see Hermit's Rest

Special Thanks to the Grand Canyon National Park Museum Collection
P.O. Box 129, Grand Canyon, AZ 86023