For the adventure seekers, the orienteering enthusiasts and those who want to see the Grand Canyon from a different perspective:
Just past the Desert View Watchtower and the Ranger Station at Desert View sits some of the most rugged hiking on the plateau of the South Rim. Cedar Mountain Road is just past the Ranger Station, there is limited parking along the dirt road for hikers to leave their car for as long as needed and set off on their journey. The first section of the trail is along an old Jeep road and is littered with rocks and switchbacks as the road drops altitude quickly, but then the Canyon comes into view, and it is a different perspective of the rim than most visitors will ever see. The iconic Desert View Watchtower is viewed from the east, and the Canyon opens up to a fully visible Tanner Trail with the Palisades in the distance.
A topographical map is definitely useful on this hike, as signage and trail markings are few and far between. Hikers leave Cedar Mountain Road after about three miles, and enter a trail for foot traffic only. This trail weaves and winds through the prairie of the plateau, through dried up washes and up and down the rolling hills of the Palisades. Be on the lookout for wildlife along the way; careful with your footing, as you may step into a giant pile of elk scat, or onto a rattlesnake at any point. It is truly wild out there.
Cedar Mountain is visible at all times along the hike, and has it’s own trail to the top. Comanche Point is only a few miles from the base of Cedar Mountain. And Cape Solitude is a few miles past Comanche on it’s own trail. All provide incredible views of the Canyon, as well as the surrounding area, giving hikers an even more once-in-a-lifetime view. The hike to Cedar Mountain may be possible to do as a day hike, if starting early in the morning, but to Comanche Point, an overnight trip is recommended. Bring lots of water, and caching water for the return trip would be a good idea.
If trailblazing is what you are interested in, skip the crowds at Desert View and gain a whole new perspective of the Grand Canyon.