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Sun, Dec. 08

Hermits follows stagecoach route
Hermits Road

After several months of extensive renovation work, the eight-mile Hermits Road and a newly renovated Rim Trail reopens in November, offering spectacular vistas for motorists and hikers.

This eight-mile route runs from the Village Loop Road near Bright Angel Lodge to the historic Hermits Rest, featuring several spectacular viewpoints along the way.

Hermits Rest is named for the French Canadian prospector Louis Boucher, who lived there for more than 20 years around the turn of the century. In addition to mining, he also farmed in the Canyon and raised goldfish at Dripping Springs, about six miles down the steep Hermit Trail. The Santa Fe Railroad constructed the route in 1912 and two years later added the unique limestone building designed by renowned Southwestern architect Mary Colter. Today, that building is listed on the National Register of Historic places and, as in Colter's day, provides refreshment and a gift shop for sightseers.

Along the route are several overlooks that tend to be less crowded than those further east. Among them:

Maricopa Point: Here you can see down into the Bright Angel Canyon. And, to the left rises a headframe, the remains of the Orphan Mine, which started as a copper mine. In 1952, efforts turned to uranium, which was extracted until 1969. The area immediately around the mine is fenced off because of the many hazards there.

Powell Point: This point is named for one-armed Civil War veteran John Wesley Powell, considered the first explorer to journey down the length of the Canyon on the Colorado River in 1869. There is a monument to Powell's expedition here, with the names of three crewmembers that left the trip at Separation Canyon omitted.

Hopi Point: Located at the end of a promontory jutting into the Canyon, this point is considered one of the best for sunrise and sunset viewing, offering 45-mile views east and west. Across the river, which is easily visible from this point, lies the Isis Temple and tree-topped Shiva Temple, described as "the grandest of all buttes."

Mohave Point: This viewpoint also offers a nice vantagepoint for viewing sunrise and sunset, as well as the Colorado River and Hermit Rapids. The paved hiking trail ends here, with a primitive, sometimes precarious trail picking up.

The Abyss earned its name because of its sheer cliff edge, 3,000 feet to the base of the redwall. The best vantagepoint is a few hundred yards west of the overlook.

Pima Point: From here, not only can you see the Colorado River - on a quiet day you can hear it as well as it tumbles through Granite Rapids nearly a mile below. Also visible from here is Hermit Camp on the Tonto Platform.

The road ends at Hermits Rest but for those interested in exploring further, the Hermit Trailhead is here.

Day hikers with stamina can hike six miles down to Boucher's former goldfish farm - a six to nine-hour round-trip with spectacular birdwatching opportunities.

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