ZION NATIONAL PARK'S BEST HIKES!

If you are a first-time visitor and want to see the best of Zion in a few days, try to squeeze in as many of the hikes below, starting with the entries in the short-and-easy hikes list. While the popular Angels Landing and Zion Narrows are the most glamorized hikes that are usually overtaken by large crowds, there are still many other opportunities for quiet exploration. Bring the National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map with you to find your way through the different sections of Zion National Park.

Best Short-and-Easy Hikes:

Watchman Trail (Zion National Park)
Watchman Trail (Zion National Park)

THE WATCHMAN TRAIL

Moderately strenuous day hike.
Starting in between the Visitor Center and the South Campground, the Watchman Trail is a short trail (3 miles round-trip) that heads up to a viewpoint on top of the first layer of cliffs roughly 300 feet above the canyon floor, offering a good view of the famous and photogenic peak to the south as well as a good bird's eye view of the whole Visitor Center complex below.

Pa'rus Trail (Zion National Park)
Pa'rus Trail (Zion National Park)

PA'RUS TRAIL

Easy leisurely stroll.
The Pa'rus Trail is one of the most accessible trails in the park, open to hikers, bikers, wheelchairs, and even pets on a leash. The paved path connects the Zion Visitor Center with the Zion Museum and Canyon Junction (stops 1, 2, and 3 for the Zion Canyon Shuttle) and with several bridges that cross the Virgin River, this is a fun little stroll for all, especially in the cooler hours of the day.

Emerald Pools Trail (Zion National Park)
Emerald Pools Trail (Zion National Park)

EMERALD POOLS TRAIL

Easy to moderately strenuous day hike.
The Emerald Pools Trail is a classic hike starting across from the Zion Lodge. This collection of trails heads back into a large sandstone amphitheater that is a lush oasis in the middle of the desert, designated as the lower, middle and upper Emerald Pools. Waterfalls are most impressive during spring or after a big rain. TRAIL BRIDGE CLOSED--Access via shuttle stops 4 and 6.

The Grotto Trail (Zion National Park)
The Grotto Trail (Zion National Park)

THE GROTTO TRAIL

Easy leisurely stroll.
The Grotto Trail is a short half a mile trail that starts at the Zion Lodge and ends at the Grotto. It is almost completely level as it follows the canyon floor though a pleasant wooded meadow and then runs alongside the road before ending at the Grotto. While this trail is not a destination hike, it is pleasant for a stroll or to make a loop with the Emerald Pools Trail and Kayenta Trails.

Riverside Walk (Zion National Park)
Riverside Walk (Zion National Park)

RIVERSIDE WALK

Leisurely family-friendly stroll.
Riverside Walk is a wonderful little hike on a fairly level paved trail that offers great views of the narrowing Zion Canyon and the lush plantlife that thrives in the narrowing canyon. This hike is very family friendly; young children and the elderly alike can do this trail, and the trail is also wheelchair accessible. Several spots offer easy access to the water if you want to cool off in the river.

Canyon Overlook Trail (Zion National Park)
Canyon Overlook Trail (Zion National Park)

CANYON OVERLOOK TRAIL

Easy short family hike with some exposure.
The Canyon Overlook Trail is one of the few official trails in the upper East Canyon. If you have a vehicle, drive east on Route 9 up through the famous Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel to the trailhead just on the other side. This nice little hike ends at a great viewpoint looking back down into Zion Canyon. If this is your first trip to Zion, this one is a must-do hike!

Northgate Peaks Trail (Zion National Park)
Northgate Peaks Trail (Zion National Park)

NORTHGATE PEAKS TRAIL

Moderately strenuous day hike.
The Northgate Peaks Trail is a fairly easy hike in Zion's high country to a fairly interesting viewpoint in the Kolob Terrace section of Zion, offering a nice escape from the crowds of Zion Canyon. The view at the end of the trail is a but more subtle than the views from the West Rim Trail, but it offers a fascinating peek into the Great West Canyon.

Timber Creek Overlook Trail (Zion National Park)
Timber Creek Overlook Trail (Zion National Park)

TIMBER CREEK OVERLOOK TRAIL

Quick easy stroll.
If you're looking to escape the crowds of Zion Canyon, visit the Kolob Canyons section of the park and take a scenic drive along the Kolob Canyons Road. At the end of the drive is a great viewpoint and the short Timber Creek Overlook Trail that offers wonderful views into the magical Kolob Finger Canyons. Sunset is a wonderful time to do this hike.

Longer Strenuous Day Hikes:

Angels Landing Trail (Zion National Park)
Angels Landing Trail (Zion National Park)

ANGELS LANDING

Fairly strenuous and exposed day hike.
If you are looking for the most stunning hike in Zion National Park along a steep and exposed route that involves holding onto chains for protection as you ascend a narrow fin-like mountain formation, then you may have heard of the legendary Angels Landing Trail. Due to its epic popularity, a permit system is now in place. You must have a permit to do this hike on a specific day.

Zion Narrows Bottom-Up Day Hike (Zion National Park)
Zion Narrows Bottom-Up Day Hike (Zion National Park)

ZION NARROWS DAY HIKE

Moderately strenuous to strenuous river hiking.
For the majority of tourists who want to see the best of the Zion Narrows, this is the route to do. After hiking to the end of the Riverside Walk, continue hiking in the river to see the amazing formations of the most famous slot canyon. Good footwear, warm clothing, and a hiking pole/stick are invaluable. Do not do this hike in high water or if there is a threat of rain.

West Rim Trail (Zion National Park)
West Rim Trail (Zion National Park)

WEST RIM TRAIL (Bottom-Up Day Hike)

Fairly strenuous to very strenuous day hike.
Most visitors to Zion are familiar with the lower section of the West Rim Trail that leads to the famous Angels Landing hike, but those willing to hike further up the trail will be treated to more outstanding views as the clever trail makes its way through the wondrous sandstone formations all the way to the upper plateau. No permit is required to do this hike!

East Mesa Trail (Zion National Park)
East Mesa Trail (Zion National Park)

EAST MESA TRAIL to OBSERVATION POINT

Moderately strenuous day hike.
Sadly, the classic Observation Point Trail hike from the Grotto has been closed since 2019 due to several landslides that have buried the trail. Fortunately, the East Mesa Trail is an alternative route that follows an old jeep road through mostly level terrain to reach the famous Observation Point. The hardest part of the hike is driving up to the remote trailhead and finding parking.

East Rim Trail (Zion National Park)
East Rim Trail (Zion National Park)

EAST RIM TRAIL

Fairly strenuous to strenuous day hike.
While the big rockfall landslide of 2019 has closed the lower section of the East Rim Trail just above Weeping Rock, you can still start at the East Entrance Trailhead and make a good day of hiking the East Rim Trail to Jolley Gulch (easy), Cable and Deertrap Mountains (strenuous), and even hike down into Echo Canyon if you are willing to hike back up.

Taylor Creek Trail (Zion National Park)
Taylor Creek Trail (Zion National Park)

TAYLOR CREEK TRAIL (Middle Fork of Taylor Creek)

Moderately strenuous day hike.
The Taylor Creek Trail is one of the few official trails in the Kolob Canyons section of Zion. This pleasant 5-mile (roundtrip) trail heads up one of the Kolob "finger" canyons and passes by two historic old cabins from the early 1900s. The trail continues up the narrowing canyon and involves a few stream crossings to reach the famous Double Arch Alcove.

Left Fork of North Creek/The Subway (Zion National Park)
Left Fork of North Creek/The Subway (Zion National Park)

THE SUBWAY FROM THE BOTTOM

Strenuous day hike.
If you want to avoid the swimming and rappelling of the top-down route, you can hike the Left Fork of North Creek from the bottom. Starting at the Left Fork Trailhead, this is a non-technical route, but it is still a strenuous river hike. The payoff is seeing the beautitful waterfall cascades and the famous lower Subway formation.

Bonus Ideas:

Kanarra Falls (Zion National Park)
Kanarra Falls (Zion National Park)

KANARRA FALLS (Kanarra Creek)

Moderately strenuous river hike.
Tucked behind the town of Kanarraville, roughly 7 miles north of the Kolob Canyons section of Zion National Park, is the beautiful little Kanarra Creek slot canyon, comparable to a mini version of the famous Zion Narrows. Referred to more popularly as "Kanarra Falls" these days, a permit system with daily quotas has been put in place to control the crowds.

Grafton (Ghost Town) (Zion National Park)
Grafton (Ghost Town) (Zion National Park)

GRAFTON (Ghost Town)

Family-friendly stroll.
Located south of the town of Rockville outside of Zion National Park, the ghost town of Grafton was settled in 1859 and abandoned less than a decade later. The site is now maintained by the Grafton Heritage Partnership and includes several historic buildings (several which have been restored) and an old cemetery. A visit to Grafton makes for a pleasant family stroll through history.

Many Pools (Zion National Park)
Many Pools (Zion National Park)

"MANY POOLS"

Moderately strenuous day hike.
"Many Pools" is a wash in the Upper East Canyon that makes for a fun day hike through some enchanting sandstone formations. Unofficially named for all of its interesting pothole formations and cascades, this wash really comes alive after a good rainstorm. During the summer months, many of the potholes/pools serve as tadpole incubators for the canyon treefrog population.

La Verkin Creek Trail (Zion National Park)
La Verkin Creek Trail (Zion National Park)

LA VERKIN CREEK TRAIL to the KOLOB ARCH

Strenuous hiking/backpacking.
The La Verkin Creek Trail is the main connecting trail through the Kolob Canyons section of Zion. A long dayhike to see the Kolob Arch makes for a strenuous and rewarding day and is probably the most popular use of the trail. Numerous campsites also allow for longer options to explore Beartrap Canyon, Willis Creek or continue a trek through to Hop Valley.

Water Canyon to Canaan Mountain (Zion National Park)
Water Canyon to Canaan Mountain (Zion National Park)

WATER CANYON and CANAAN MOUNTAIN

Moderately strenuous to strenuous hike.
Located on BLM land behind the remote town of Hildale near the Arizona border several miles south of Zion National Park, Water Canyon is a beautiful little canyon oasis reminiscent of Zion's Subway. A clever trail heads up the canyon and ascends fractures on the west side of the canyon to make it all the way up to the top of the Canaan Mountain wilderness.

Continue to:
Backpacking Routes Canyoneering Routes

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