I'm actually terrified of heights, so I was shaking when I took this photo. The bridge is pretty steady though and doesn't sway. Well, not much anyway. But its worth it to get a little more up close and personal observation. Its also a good shortcut between the north and south sides.
The last two points were nothing special. I think I forgot to take a picture at point 10 because it was really getting repetitive. But this is a good spot to admire the vertical walls of the gorge, and to contemplate rappeling down then. Perhaps on a cooler day.
This isn't the best shot of the waterfall due to the smog, but its a pretty nice sight from this vantage point. You can see how narrow the gorge actually is and how the trees practically engulf the body of water that was successful in carving the gorge.
Most people do the entire north-south trail, which is about 3 miles total and an easy walk. On a clearer day, its worth it because you can see the gorge from different angles. On a hazy, swelteringly humid day like this one, they all start to look alike. It is the same gorge, after all. But you can get a better view of the gorge's walls from the south side. And there are several trails that venture beyond the park which can be picked up from the south side trail.
The south side trail has five separate observation points which give you different views of the gorge and the falls. If you're pressed for time, skip the first observation point and save yourself the 1/2 mile walk because there is little to see at that stop. Points 2-5 are pretty close together on the south side. From point 5, you can turn around and head back to the visitor's center or head up a flight of stairs, cross over the 441 bridge and head back down the other side.
The picture was taken from the highway, the halfway point of the two trails. Unfortunately, its pretty hazy since there was a heat wave in the area, but you can still see the suspension bridge in the distance, although little else is visible.
At observation point three on the north side, you'll find a series of steps leading to the suspension bridge across the gorge. The sign says there are about 700 of them, which sounds pretty daunting considering that you'll have to walk back up. But there are only about 300. I counted. Don't ask me why. It just gave me something to do while walking back up.
Anyway, its worth it to venture down to the bridge. This is the only opportunity to get into the gorge, unless you're doing some serious hiking or climbing. And the view of the falls is pretty nice from here.
Observation point two is actually the first stop on the north trail since point one is located off a spur path that heads in the other direction. From here, you can see the falls and get a better view of the steep walls that surround the gorge.
There are two separate trails around the north and south sides of the gorge which connect and allow you to walk around the entire area, stopping at various observation points. The trails are fairly well marked and the maps available at the visitor's center make the trails very easy to navigate.
This photo was taken at observation point 1, which is a spur trail leading about 1/4 mile away from the visitor's center and the north side trail. This trail also connects with the route to the bottom of the gorge. That is a less maintained, rough and steep route and a permit is required to attempt it.