|OBSERVATION POINT TRAIL|
|TRAIL INFORMATION||VIEW PHOTOS!|
The hike from the Weeping Rock Trailhead to Observation Point is a Zion classic and the viewpoint at the end of the trail is an iconic image of Zion National Park. The Observation Point Trail is a strenuous 8-mile (round trip) hike that could take between 4 to 6 hours and involves a lot of unrelenting uphill on a hard paved trail that was blasted out of the canyon walls. Along the way, hikers get a glimpse into the dark and mysterious Echo Canyon with its beautiful slickrock formations and stunning White Cliffs. While this hike isn't as exposed or fear-inducing as Angels Landing, with an elevation gain of over 2,100 feet, Observation Point is a more strenuous workout!
|Rating:||Fairly strenuous day hike.|
|Access:||The Weeping Rock Trailhead (the 7th stop for the Zion Canyon Shuttle in Zion's main canyon)|
|Time Required:||4-6 hours|
|Length:||4 miles one-way (Weeping Rock to Observation Point)|
|Elevation Change:||2100-ft elevation gain along the trail.|
|Seasons:||Year-round. Spring and fall are most pleasant; summer can be very hot. The trail is accessible in winter, but snow or ice from any recent storm could pose a problem.|
The hike to Observation Point starts at the Weeping Rock Trailhead, the 7th stop on the Zion Canyon Shuttle. The mostly paved trail doesn't waste any time gaining elevation as it zigzags its way up the eastern walls of Zion Canyon. In no time, you will be a several hundred feet above the canyon floor with a good view of Weeping Rock below and of Angels Landing across the valley. Roughly halfway up the initial ascent from Weeping Rock is the spur trail to Hidden Canyon. Many guidebooks recommend hiking to Hidden Canyon as a quick diversion on your way to Observation Point, but this doesn't allow much time to explore Hidden Canyon. (Give yourself an extra 1-4 hours if you intend on exploring beyond the mouth of the canyon.)
Once past Hidden Canyon, the trail continues its fast ascent until it finally escapes out to Echo Canyon: a large side canyon pantheon roughly 1000 feet above the valley floor. The mood of the trail quickly changes as you are now surrounded by canyon walls and treated to cooler temperatures and glimpses into the dark slot canyon sections of Echo Canyon. The trail crosses over the dry streambed and then continues a slower ascent up the other side of the canyon. About a mile into Echo Canyon, you will reach the junction with the East Rim Trail, a less-obvious and more difficult trail that meanders around Echo Canyon and heads to Cable Mountain, Deertrap Mountain, and the East Entrance Trailhead. (The East Rim Trail is another scenic trail that deserves a full day.)
Beyond the East Rim Trail junction, the Observation Point Trail resumes its steep zigzags as it makes its final ascent through the upper White Cliff formations and after 2,100 feet of elevation gain, you will be standing on the rim of the sandy upper plateau! The last mile is mostly level as the trail heads northwest to loop around above the main canyon. Along the way, you will pass one last trail junction, the junction with the East Mesa Trail, a not-so-commonly used alternate route to Observation Point from the east boundary of the park.
Soon enough the trail heads south and you will reach Observation Point, a magnificent rim vantage point with a 270-degree view. Note Angels Landing and the valley road far below! The trees and sandstone offer great places to enjoy lunch. Return the way you came. Note that the pounding downhill on the paved trail is not kind on the knees, so allow plenty of time and take it easy.
Weeping Rock to Observation Point is a good workout. While the zigzagging trail may prove to be a bit monotonous for some, the view from Observation Point is stunning. Equally sublime are the views in Echo Canyon, from the grand beauty of the White Cliffs to the intimate beauty of peering into the slot canyon sections as the trail crosses the drainage. You will definitely feel this hike in your legs and in your lungs!