I fell in love with Zion National Park! It just got into my blood ever since my first visit. It has so much that I have made several trips back with the burning desire to continue exploring more and more of this park. I have hiked almost every trail in the Zion Canyon area and love them all, each for its own reason. Here is my list of trails that I have hiked and why you might want to check them out too.
13 Hikes in Zion National Park
1. Riverside Walk
The Riverside Walk is an easy hike on a one-mile paved path (two miles round trip). It has stunning scenery with the Virgin River flowing to the side of you making it feel very peaceful. I have seen deer every time that I hiked this trail and have even seen a tarantula! The end of the paved trail also marks the beginning of my favorite all-time hike!
2. The Narrows
The Narrows is a must do for anyone visiting this park! This classic hike can be done in one of two ways. Most people take the park shuttle bus to the Temple of Sinawava stop. From here they hike the one mile Riverside Walk and then enter the Virgin River. From here most people usually hike upstream for two to three miles to the famous Wall Street and Orderville Canyon area before turning around and heading back. Wall Street is where the canyon is very narrow and the walls of the canyon are very tall. The sun never really sees this section and you are pretty much just walking in the river at this point. The second option is to get a shuttle to Chamberlain Ranch and hike down 16 miles of the North Fork of the Virgin River. This requires a permit and take two days.
Hiking the Narrows does require some preparation. You will need sturdy shoes and trekking poles. There are outfitters just outside the park who rent water shoes and hiking sticks. You will also need to check with the park visitor center and check the flash flood danger before heading out. This hike is typically done during the summer and fall.
3. Angels Landing
This is one of the most memorable hikes you can experience in Zion, both mentally and physically. It all starts off as a leisurely hike as you cross a bridge and make your way up towards Refrigerator Canyon and Walter’s Wiggles. This is where you feel like you are on a stair climber for what seems like forever. Walter’s Wiggles is a series of switchbacks that steeply climbs up to Scout’s lookout. This makes for a great resting spot before heading up to Angels Landing. It gets much more exciting from here out as you find yourself holding onto chains and hiking along sheer drop-offs! Did I mention this hike is not for anyone with a fear of heights? I mean seriously you will be walking in areas only several feet wide and cliff drop-offs hundreds of feet down with only a chain to hold on to. I’m sure you will find my fingerprints in a few of the chains from me grabbing them so hard. The view at the end is truly something magical and makes the trek up worth it as you find yourself looking out into the heart of Zion!
4. Hidden Canyon Trail & 5. Observation Point
This is a great full day hike in Zion with Breathtaking views and without the large crowds that you will find at the Narrows and Angels Landing! Start off by taking the park shuttle bus to the Weeping Rock stop. This trail starts of gaining elevation quickly up towards Echo Canyon. Take a small side trip to Hidden Canyon! It is beautiful and will give you a little taste of what it’s like to hike Angels Landing with drop offs and chains to hold on to. Granted you don’t have drop-offs on both sides and not as extreme but it will definitely provide you with some excitement. The trail technically ends at the mouth of Hidden Canyon but there is a beautiful Hidden Canyon Arch a short distance away and where I saw most people turning around. From here make your way back to the main trail and continue up towards Observation Point. You will get a glimpse into Echo Canyon from the trail as you continue your hike. Remember that you have no business exploring this canyon or any other canyon unless you have a permit and technical canyoneering experience. As you leave Echo Canyon the East Mesa Trail cutoff is to the right where you could go to Cable Mountain and Deertrap Mountain but stay to the left and continue up towards Observation Point. The trail continues to be steep before finally becoming flat for the last mile. You will be ready for a break by the time you reach Observation Point! The view here is my favorite in all of Zion! You look out and see the tiny sliver of road and Angels Landing well below you and all the way down the canyon. I sat back took my boots and socks off and had lunch with an amazing view! I personally always carry a spare set of socks with me as dry feet are happy feet and I was very happy to put them on before heading back down the canyon.
6. Emerald Pools Trail & 7. Kayenta Trail Loop
The Emerald Pools is divided into three parts; lower, Middle and Upper Emerald Pools. I see books breaking this down into separate hikes but in reality, you can do this easily in one hike. Take the park shuttle bus to the Zion Lodge stop and cross the river towards the Lower Emerald Pools. Once you reach the lower Emerald Pools continue towards the Middle Emerald Pools then to the Upper Emerald Pools. From here you hike back down to the Middle Emerald Pools and then have a choice of either going back to the Zion Lodge the way you came in or you can make it a loop by taking the Kayenta Trail out to the Grotto. If you want to make a full loop then take the Grotto Trail back to the Zion Lodge! This was truly one of my favorite hikes!
8. Canyon Overlook Trail
Canyon Overlook Trail is located just outside the East entrance of the Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel. Parking is limited on both sides of the road and it can be extremely difficult to find a spot. It can also be a real pain to get in and out of the parking lot because quite often there is a long line to go through the tunnel. Having said that, this hike is fun! You start off with a series of steps and then a small bridge attached to the side of the cliff wall. It continues under the wall and out to a nice view at the end. It’s one of my favorite short hikes!
9, Cable Mountain & 10. Deertrap Mountain Trail
There are a few options to access Cable Mountain and Deertrap Mountain trails. I hiked both trails at once since I spent so much energy getting to one trail that you may as well make it a two for one! The first option is to hike from the East Entrance of Zion National Park on the East Rim Trail. The second option is to take the park shuttle bus to the Weeping Rock stop in Zion Canyon. From here you will hike up Echo Canyon to the East Rim Trail then continue on to Cable Mountain or Deertrap Mountain. The third option, the least popular and the one I chose was to have a high clearance 4X4 vehicle and drive out to a trailhead at the border of the park behind Zion Ponderosa Resort. The benefit here is that you take half the distance off the hike making it a manageable one day hike instead of two. My words of advice is to always come prepared! Read my 10 Essentials post at http://parkrangerjohn.com/the-10-essentials-for-outdoor-survival/ for a great example from this hike!
11. The Grotto Trail
The Grotto serves as a connector trail between the Zion Canyon Lodge and The Grotto bus stop (where people get off for Angels Landing). I often find myself alone on this trail as most people just take the bus to wherever they are going. This works for me as I enjoy seeing the deer and turkey along this path.
12. Sand Bench Trail
The Sand Bench Trail is well named! You will find yourself hiking in sand, sometimes soft deep sand. You will also have to take your boots off afterward to return half the sand from trail back. This makes for a long day of hiking, especially when you are a big dude and it’s hot outside. Also, note this is the path that the horses take. What made this hike great was the fact that I had the place to myself and did not see anyone else all day! Did I mention that you get a great close-up view of the Court of the Patriarchs? I rewarded my hard work with a shower, a couple cold beers and a pizza after this hike.
13. Pa`rus Trail
The Pa`rus Trail is a nice easy stroll along the Virgin River that goes between the visitor center and Canyon Junction stop on the park’s shuttle bus. I found this to be a relaxing stroll with very few people as everyone tends to be on the most popular trails in the canyon. It also goes right by the South Campground and makes for a nice after dinner walk.
Now it’s up to you to decide to go to Zion and where you want to hike. Maybe you want to revisit a trail that brings up old memories or perhaps try something new. Whatever you may choose, I’m sure there is a great trail filled with great memories waiting for you.