N. Kaibab reopens with limits

A trail crew works to clear and stabilize the bridge on the North Kaibab Trail.

A trail crew works to clear and stabilize the bridge on the North Kaibab Trail.

The North Kaibab Trail has reopened after a planned closure to accommodate trail work and repair.

In early January, a 20-foot section of the trail approximately three miles north of Phantom Ranch was damaged by a rock slide caused by winter erosion.

At that time, the trail was left open to hiker traffic, but closed to all private, cross-canyon stock use; and two periods of trail repair work were scheduled.

During the scheduled repairs, the trail was closed for hiker safety and to provide a safe work environment for trail crews. It was expected that after these repairs were completed, the trail would reopen to all traffic.

Unfortunately, during the Feb. 21-26 closure, a freeze-thaw related rock fall occurred within the closed area, damaging the third bridge north of Phantom Ranch. On Saturday, Feb.23, trail crew members reported that rock had fallen along a 60-foot section of the bridge damaging 80-90 feet of railing.

Additionally, the impact fractured the center supporting abutment and damaged girders.

Prior to the scheduled reopening of the trail, crews were able to remove the debris and to stabilize the bridge. The North Kaibab Trail is now open to hiker traffic. Hikers are advised to use caution as the surface of the bridge is uneven, with 2-inch offsets, and there are currently no railings.

Hikers are further advised to check with the park's backcountry office for the most up-to-date trail conditions before starting out on any trips as continued freeze-thaw erosion or bridge repairs could result in further temporary closures of the trail.

Although the North Kaibab Trail has reopened to hiker traffic, it will remain closed to all private cross-canyon stock use until the bridge can bemore fully repaired.

There is currently no expected completion date for these repairs. For up-to-date information on trail conditions, contact the Backcountry Office at 638-7875.

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