This trail leads 23 miles north-south from Bryce Point to Rainbow Point. It follows the Pink Cliffs, which form the eastern edge of the Paunsaugunt Plateau. The trail climbs and descends frequently as it skirts the cliff bottoms, resulting in a total elevation gain of 1,500 feet in 23 miles. There are six backcountry campsites along this route, for which permits are necessary. Individuals planning on backpacking along this track need to obtain a permit, and should check conditions, at the Visitor Center before beginning this hike.
The shuttle system in Bryce Canyon National Park makes reaching this trailhead, and returning to your car, easier than in the past. Two cars are not necessary if hiking this route during the shuttle season, which extends from May 15 through September 30 each year. Most individuals hike this trail from north to south, which is what this description details.
Bryce Point Trailhead lies at an elevation of 8,250 feet. From this point on the rim of the Paunsaugunt Plateau the trail descends slowly eastward for a quarter mile. Switchbacks finish the first mile of the track as it descends through the Pink Cliffs. The trail continues to wind its way eastward into the headwaters of Merrill Hollow, before crossing a narrow ridge and entering the next drainage. The track reaches the bottom of this small wash approximately one and a half miles from the trailhead. It then follows the wash for a short distance before entering the spires of the Hat Shop.
Beyond the Hat Shop the trail follows the eastern rim of the Right Fork Yellow Creek canyon before descending into that drainage. At the bottom of this descent is the Right Fork Yellow Creek dispersed camping area. Once on the floor of the canyon the trail follows this tributary for approximately one mile. Before reaching the main canyon of Yellow Creek the trail leaves the wash and rounding the base of a ridge that separates the main fork from the right fork of the stream. A short distance after leaving the right fork is the Yellow Creek Group Camp. The trail reaches the main drainage of Yellow Creek shortly west of the group camping site.
The trail follows Yellow Creek one mile upstream then ascends the western wall of the canyon. Once on the rim the track descends into the next wash, which is Sheep Creek. The track skirts the head of Sheep Creek for nearly three miles before crossing Pasture Wash and ascending out of the drainage. The route crosses a high ridge west of Pasture Wash before dropping into the main wash of Sheep Creek. Before crossing Sheep Creek the track reaches a junction with the Sheep Creek Connecting Trail. Turn right at this first junction to continue up stream along Sheep Creek. At the next junction turn left and cross the stream.
The trail continues through the basin of Sheep Creek after the first stream crossing. It then ascends to 7,670 feet, over a ridge into Swamp Canyon. During the next two miles the trail leads through Swamp Canyon. At the head of the canyon is Right Fork Swamp Canyon Camp. Two miles down stream, at a trail junction, is Swamp Canyon Camp.
Beyond Swamp Canyon Camp the Under-the-Rim Trail leads southward into the Willis Creek wash. Noon Canyon Butte reaches a height of 8,461 feet and lies to the left of the trail near the head of Willis Creek. The trail follows the stream for a mile then crosses the basin and climbs out of it. Reaching a height of 8,000 feet the route again descends into Bridge Canyon.
After crossing Bridge Canyon, and entering Agua Canyon you'll find Natural Bridge Camp. Passing this dispersed camping area the trail follows Agua Canyon a short distance before crossing and ascending out of it. On the top of the ridge between Agua and Ponderosa Canyons is a trail junction. The track leading to the right is Agua Canyon Connecting Trail.
From this junction the Under-the-Rim Trail descends into a small tributary of Ponderosa Canyon. It then ascends out of the wash and into Ponderosa Canyon. Leaving this wash the trail ascends using switchbacks then enters the South Fork of Ponderosa Canyon. Ascending slightly the trail reaches 8,025 feet on the ridge between South Fork Ponderosa and Black Birch Canyon. The track contours the basin of Black Birch Canyon for approximately one and a half miles before leading northward along a ridge. This ridge provides excellent views of Deer Mountain and the Black Birch drainage.
It is approximately two miles from Black Birch Canyon to Rainbow Point. The trail ascends approximately 1,000 feet along this stretch. It leaves the Black Birch drainage and skirts the steep ridge that forms the southern wall of the canyon. The track then turns westward and leads along the southern side of the cliffs to reach Rainbow Point.
Directions: From Bryce Canyon Visitor Center, Rainbow Point Access: Take the Green Line shuttle to Rainbow Point to begin hiking this trail from the southern terminus.
Elevation: 8,225 feet
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