The following is a transcript of the narration for this panorama location. To watch and listen to the narrated panorama, enter the project here at this location and then press the play button.
The North Kaibab Trail reaches its first major natural barrier, the Coconino Sandstone, at the Coconino Overlook, just under a mile down from the trailhead. The tightly bunched contour lines on the topographic map clearly delineate the path of the sheer Coconino Sandstone cliffs, but you certainly don’t need a map to identify them standing here, just a few feet from the edge of the precipice. The white sandstone cliffs frame the view down Roaring Springs Canyon to both the left and right, and are clearly visible on the flanks of Komo Point, just a few miles away. But, if you look closely, you can even make them out on near the top of the South Rim, off in the distance over 10 miles away.
The overlook is a popular destination for a short hike down from the North Rim. You are still high enough here, at about 7700′, that it will still be cool and pleasant even when the canyon, just down a bit lower, is brutally hot on a summer day. Day hikers venturing down into the heat past the overlook need to be prepared.
But before moving on, there are plenty of fine views to take in from here. We are still high up and remain in the lush North Rim ponderosa pine forest. The pines grow wherever they can, even here at the edge of the cliff where you have wonder just where this tree could possibly find a place for it roots and manage to hang on.
We can see just bits of the North Kaibab Trail as it descends from here into the depths of Roaring Springs Canyon. A couple of switchbacks are visible nearby, where the trail passes through the gentler slopes of the Hermit Shale formation. Far below we can just make out the Redwall Bridge, just below the boundary between the Supai and Redwall Limestone formations. A portion of the trail is visible beyond the bridge, where bits of it are chiseled directly into the walls of Redwall Limestone. Beyond that we have a direct line of sight down to a panorama point directly across the canyon from Roaring Springs, just above the last switchback on the North Kaibab Trail before its final descent down to Bright Angel Creek.
Once when I was here there was a Kaibab squirrel chattering away and flicking its prominent white tail right in the small tree leaning out over the cliff. The Kaibab squirrel is found only in the ponderosa forests of the Kaibab Plateau north of the Grand Canyon. Similar squirrels live on the south rim, but the two populations, which can only live at high elevation, are isolated from each other. Only the north rim squirrels, in isolation, have evolved, probably due to the greater amount of snow on the north rim, to have the white tail.
When you are ready to head on down the trail, tread carefully as you leave the overlook and return to the trail proper, where you will quickly drop down on a series of switchbacks through a break in the Coconino cliffs formed by the Roaring Springs Fault, and down to a panorama point near the base of the Coconino. Returning up the trail from here, the trail works it way up through gentler slopes in the Toroweap Formation, to a nearby panorama spot at the top of prominent cliff band within the Toroweap, even though, at first glance, you’d think you were still at the top of the Coconino.