|NATIONAL PARKS QUICKLINKS|
The Riggs Spring Loop is a great alternative to the usual "ho-hum, more outrageous hoodoos" flavor that dominates most of Bryce Canyon National Park. It's an even better alternative to the overwhelmed trails further north. You've got an excellent chance of seeing wildlife too, like deer, elk and peregrine falcons.
One caution: Since Rainbow Point and Yovimpa Point sit on the highest promontories of Bryce, they're colder than the main tourist amphitheaters, and tend to attract serious afternoon lightning. I was literally almost struck while scouting in early June. Much of the hike was done in rain and hail.
From the Yovimpa Point trailhead, on the western end of the Rainbow Point parking lot, you wander south for several hundred yards to a sign for Yovimpa Pass and Riggs Spring. There, turn right and gradually descend WSW through a spruce/fir forest floored with green-leafed manzanita. You'll know you're on the right path by the small diameter water pipeline that occasionally emerges from the trailbed.
Just under a mile in, you'll encounter a nice overlook atop the Pink Cliffs Rim of the Paunsagunt Plateau. Ahead, you can see the forested saddle of Yovimpa Pass. At the pass, 1.66 miles in, you encounter the first campsite at Yovimpa Springs. While this won't be far enough from civilization for many people, the pleasant aspen-lined meadow offers good views to the southeast, and excellent water thanks to a developed spring just below the rim. It makes a fine campsite for families with small children or grandparents. Get water where the trail crosses the outlet stream below the pumphouse building.
From Yovimpa Springs the trail descends steeply to Riggs Springs, switchbacking down nearly 1,000 vertical feet into needle-floored ponderosa groves. Riggs Spring has excellent camping in the cool glades, and the spring has a healthy flow guarded from the occasional wandering cow by a wooden fence maze.
Just beyond Riggs Spring, you turn left/North and begin a gradual ascent up Mutton Valley to a low ridge crossing into Corral Hollow, where you'll traverse eastward to Corral Hollow Campsite at 4.78 miles. While pleasant, it's definitely second choice to Riggs. Another short climb on good trail takes you over a pleasant saddle at 5.04 miles that offers refreshing breezes on a hot day, good views to North and South.
Another short descent returns you to an eastern fork of Corral Hollow, and Bulberry Spring at mile 5.66. It's usually just a boggy swamp, but does offer treatable water if you're desperate. Between Corral Hollow Camp and Bulberry Spring, keep your ear tuned for the raucous screen of peregrine falcons, nesting on the brilliant Pink Cliffs overhead.
Now, in the next 2.5 miles, you'll get the promised exercise, climbing to a rim-edge intersection with the Under the Rim Trail at 8.10 miles. Turn left/West and follow several well-signed intersections back to Yovimpa Point and your car.<br /> <br /> <b>Permit:</b> Park entry is $20/vehicle. Backcountry overnight permits are $5/one- to two-person party.
Gear up: Ruby’s Inn General Store has fuel, food, first-aid supplies, and basic hiking gear. 1000 South UT 63, Bryce Canyon City; (866) 866-6616.
--Mapped by Steve Howe
TO TRAILHEAD: Bryce lies on UT 12 between Panguitch (25 miles west) and Escalante (50 miles east). Turn south on UT 63 from UT 12, and drive 3.8 miles to the park. From the entrance, it's 18 miles to the parking lot for 9,115-foot Rainbow Point, the park’s highest spot. You'll actually begin from the Yovimpa Point Trail, which starts from the south end of the same parking loop.