My wife and I went here on Labor day to hike the trails for the first time. Some people on here did recommend skipping the east or west rim trails but I wanted to experience them for myself. We went early getting to the park around 8:30am. To my surprise we actually got in free. There is a fee but only if you get there after the collection booth opens. We parked in the lower parking area (first left off the main entrance) and found out you just park wherever you can in the grass. The East rim trail head is right here and the gorge trail starts just a little further south so we did the gorge first. The natural swimming pools are right before the north entrance to the gorge and looked very cool. River fed and separated between a deeper (6-8ft) section and a shallow kids section (2ft).
We hiked the gorge trail south and took the east rim trail back. The 2.5 mile round trip took approximately 90 minutes and we took our time taking pictures and having short breaks. Yes, the East rim is far less scenic than the gorge but it was still a nice hike. You do get some nice aerial views of a couple of the falls at the south end but after that it's mostly a wooded hike.If you wanted to do this trail and minimize the amount of stairs your climbed up I'd go East rim south first then take the gorge trail back.
Be sure to have a QR reader app on your phone. The trail has spots where you can scan a QR code and get an audio tour of information about that spot. They had interesting things to say about the old train bridge and zip line that you see along the way.
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