“An amazing rim run with an unsurpassed view of The Confluence.”
— Jordan Engel
From my knowledge, this trail is open year-round; the only restrictions involve weather. I completed this trail on December 15 and conditions were perfect. During the day, temperatures were in the high 50's with partial cloud cover. This trail should not be attempted if snow is present on the rim. Keep in mind, this trail is done completely on the rim, meaning you never enter the canyon. This means that weather conditions are going to be colder and more harsh than runs that drop below the rim.
The footing for this trail is uneven in the forested portion. There are large divots in the trail that would pose issues for runners. Once you reach the desert, the trail has lots of ground cactus that would be difficult to avoid if you were trail running.
The Confluence is an amazing spectacle at the end of this trail that holds significantly more value than a breathtaking view. The Navajo, Hopi, Zuni, and Havasupai tribes consider this area of the Grand Canyon, where the turquoise water of the Little Colorado river flows into the brown waters of the Colorado, to be extremely spiritual.
Currently, there is a movement to build a resort and tram that would allow visitors to observe The Confluence without running. By undertaking the difficult task to reach The Confluence via the Cape Solitude Trail, runners are able to see this unmatched view of a spectacle that holds immense amounts of historical and spiritual value.
To begin, follow Cedar Mountain Road, and stay left until it becomes a gravel path. Follow this road until you see a sign on the left that states "Foot Travel Only." This is around three miles from the trailhead. From here, simply follow the gravel trail as you descend from the heights of Desert View Watchtower
. You'll want to have your compass handy and always know that you want to travel north or northwest.
Once you stop descending, you'll be in open desert and trail markings are minimal. Do not be deceived once you descend from Desert View Watchtower
. This will not be a flat run to Cape Solitude. There are plenty of hills that you'll encounter along the way.
After meandering your way over hills and miniature desert canyons, you'll reach a meadow. There seem to be various trails leading through the open grassland that split left and right as the meadow ends. The trail on the right leads to the National Park boundary and into Navajo Reservation land; you'll want to take the trail on the left of the fork which will lead to more hills as you get closer to the destination. You conclude the "out" portion of this trail by running between two-three miles along the rim as the canyon drops to your left. Cape Solitude will lie on the right of the point, which will give runners amazing views of The Confluence.
Be sure to give yourself plenty of time to complete this journey. Even though the trail is marked as 13 miles (26 miles round-trip), our trip ended up being around 35 miles. This can be credited to the poorly-marked trails in the desert region of the run that leave room to interpret where the trail lies.
You are able to backpack and camp at Cape Solitude if you apply and obtain for backcountry permits prior to your visit.
Flora & Fauna
Elk are very noticeable at the beginning of the trail and can be seen until the forest gives way to desert scenery. Large pine trees cover the first five miles around the trailhead. After that, runners will enter into the desert scene which provides various types of ground cactus, shrubs, and birds.
During our final 10 miles to Cape Solitude Point, we didn't see any wildlife other than the occasional raven that flew overhead. However, as I mentioned before, we saw two bull elk 20 yards in front of us on the trail.
From a runner's perspective, I would not recommend this trail to those who are seeking a trail that provides wildlife or plant sightings.