One drawback to the South Rim in Grand Canyon National Park is the lack of manageable day hikes. The Rim Trail is nice for strolling along the canyon's edge, but gazing up from below the rim typically requires a committing plunge down Bright Angel or South Kaibab, and the difficulty deters many would-be day hikers. The hike to Dripping Springs, however, is a manageable distance for less experienced hikers and families. It does still require a lot of switchbacks through the canyon's upper rock layers, but they are less steep than on other trails.
The way to Dripping Springs begins on the Hermit Trail at Hermit's Rest. The trail descends into a side canyon of the Grand Canyon, where the panorama is a bit narrower than from the South Rim's main trails, but the views are still far from disappointing. The spring itself is the destination of this out-and-back adventure. Dripping Springs are a year-round water source where groundwater trickles out of sandstone in a small drainage in the rim, then drips down a tall streaked wall to the canyon floor. This is one of several water sources in the Grand Canyon that are vital to the desert ecosystem and that have been precious to Native American inhabitants for generations.
Other highlights of the trail include an exciting but safe traverse above steep cliffs to enter Dripping Springs' side canyon, fragrant wildflowers that bloom in the spring, and a chance at seeing deer grazing on the plentiful vegetation. If you look closely, you can find traces of past plant and animal life in the rocks. The uppermost rock layer, Kaibab Limestone, is rich in fossils of ancient sea creatures, and if you look carefully you can spot fascinating fossils in lower rock layers as well.
Dripping Springs is in a shady north-facing alcove, so it can be chilly even when it is hot in the sun. The initial switchbacks get a lot more sun, so be prepared for a range of temperatures. Bring plenty of water. The only water that is available on the trail is at the spring, but filling a bottle in the trickle would take a very long time, and it would need to be treated. Bottles can be filled at Hermit's Rest near the trailhead.
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