Health, Diet, Fitness and Weight Loss Blog
Hiking Grand Canyon
The Trail of Time at Grand Canyon:
A map of the trail of time at Grand Canyon, Arizona.
Visitors who wander onto the Rim Trail at
Grand Canyon Village might wonder why
there are pennies mounted in bronze
cylinders embedded every meter or so in
the pavement.  The distance between
the pennies marks off a million years of
earth’s history along the 2.83 mile (4.56
km) trail.  The Trail of Time originates just
West of Yavapai Geology Museum,
about 1.3 miles east of the Village (see
map).

On every visit to the South Rim, I walk
from my hotel to the Yavapai Geology
Museum as a “pre-hike” the day before
heading down to the Colorado River.  To
me, the most dramatic aspect of the Trail
of Time is the enormity of geological time
and my insignificance in it.  For example,
if every step is a million years, man’s
existence on earth only encompasses a
third of a step.  The enormity of the
Grand Canyon before you was formed in
only six steps.  






The oldest rocks in the Grand Canyon,
which are displayed in chronological
order according to age at the side of the
trail, stretch only from Yavapai Geology
Museum to just before the Grand
Canyon Village–a bit less than half the
distance of the entire Trail of Time.  I am
awed to stand at Yavapai Point and to
peer at Maricopa Point, almost three
miles distant where the Trail ends; and to
strive to grasp the enormity of geological
time.  On a scale where the evolution of
humans is only a third of a step, my life
(and my struggles in it) are less than a
bird song on the Trail of Time.  For some
reason, I find this comforting, not
depressing.














The best place to start on the Trail of
Time is just West of the Yavapai Geology
Museum.  The designers provide a
“million year on-ramp” to help you adjust
to the scale of time.  At first steps mark
only a single year, and you are
encouraged to find and not the marker
for your age.  Later the pace quickens to
decades, centuries, millennia and
eventually millions.  Along the way signs
integrate historical events, such as
human habitation in Grand Canyon
(about 10,000 years), to provide context
to the scale.

Much photographed rock “portals”
constructed of actual rock from the
Grand Canyon in representative layers
are located along the Trail of Tim.  Two
are just West of the Yavapai Geology
Museum, one is at the intersection of the
Rim Trail and the trail cut-off to Park
Headquarters and the Shrine of the Ages
(.71 miles West of the Geology
Museum), and the most frequently
viewed is located at the East Side of
Grand Canyon Village near Verkamps
Visitor Center.













The Trail of Time also features 50 large
rock samples taken from the Canyon,
located in chronological order based on
age, from youngest to oldest, starting
from the Yavapai Geology Museum and
ending at the East side of the Grand
Canyon Village.












Starting in the middle of the Trail of Time,
it makes little sense.  But if you take the
time to start from the Yavapai Geology
Museum (accessible by free shuttle bus
or by walking), the Trail of Time is a
pleasant meditation on the scale of
geological time, insignificance, and
mortality.
Pennies mark a million years on the Trail of Time at Grand Canyon
The Trail of Time at Grand Canyon stretches to Maricopa Point, almost three miles away.
Four
The final rock sample on the Trail of Time just east of the Village shows the oldest rock in the Grand Canyon.
The Grand Canyon is about six million years old, only six steps on the trail of time.