Every year our crews tie up their boots and head into the Grand Canyon National Park. The Grand Canyon was one of the first project partners ACE ever had and our partnership continues to strengthen and grow as time goes on. This year our Southwest crew had the opportunity to go backcountry on the North Rim of the Canyon. The North Kaibab trail is the most strenuous route out of the canyon with steep switchbacks and stunning views. Many who visit the park find it surprising that, despite only being 24 miles from the south rim to the north rim as the crow flies, it actually takes about four hours to drive.On a Wednesday morning, our crew led by Carina Zenti geared up and began hiking into the canyon on the North Kaibab Trail. “Part of what makes working in the canyon so different from working in other areas is the sheer amount of people that visit. We get more compliments on our work here and the visitors are always really grateful that we are here maintaining the trails,” said Zenti. The canyon receives more than 5 million visitors each year, making it the second most visited park in the US. Of those 5 million, about 80% will hike at least one to two miles into the canyon and about 11% will take the trails to the bottom. This amount of foot traffic in addition to the natural course of erosion in the canyon calls for constant trail maintenance.
The ACE crew spent seven days camped approximately five miles into the canyon. Each day they performed cyclical maintenance on the trail which includes fixing and improving drains, clearing loose rocks from the trail, smoothing the tread and working on any other general issues with the trail that need attention. The crew also worked with the NPS staff to guard the trail while they worked on a rock slide. It is always a privilege for our corps members to work in the canyon alongside the National Park Service staff.