HIKES IN THE UPPER EAST CANYON

The east section of the park holds the most scenic drive you will ever experience. Route 9 is a wondrous snaking road through the beautiful Upper East Canyon's slickrock formations and drainages, connected to Zion Canyon via the amazing Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel. There aren't very many official trails in this section, but there are plenty of random sandstone formations, drainages, and minor peaks to explore and photograph. The Upper East Canyon is home to Checkerboard Mesa, one of the more famous Zion formations. Bighorn sheep can often be spotted from the road.

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!

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.

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.

Clear Creek (Zion National Park)
Clear Creek (Zion National Park)

CLEAR CREEK

Moderately strenuous day hike.
There aren't too many official trails in the upper East Canyon, but who says you can't wander around and do your own exploring? Clear Creek is the main dry streambed that follows Route 9 throughout the East Canyon. If you can ignore the occasional sounds of vehicles, this is really quite a beautiful canyon to explore with many possible starting and end points for hikes.

Gifford Canyon (Zion National Park)
Gifford Canyon (Zion National Park)

GIFFORD CANYON

Moderately strenuous day hike.
Located directly across from the Canyon Overlook parking lot, Gifford Canyon is an open wash with sandy sections interspersed with short sections of bare slickrock in the streambed. Though not the most exciting or photogenic canyon in Zion, this wash makes for an interesting half-day hike if you want to do some random exploring and get a quick taste of the Zion backcountry.

Bridge Mountain Arch (Zion National Park)
Bridge Mountain Arch (Zion National Park)

BRIDGE MOUNTAIN ARCH

Strenuous remote scrambling/climbing route.
The Bridge Mountain Arch is a unique landmark easily viewable from the Zion Museum. Starting in the Upper East Canyon, the route to visit the arch is a long and strenuous trek that involves traversing up and down several remote washes, navigation challenges, several sections of scrambling, as well as a short technical climb to reach some very stunning views.

Pine Creek (Zion National Park)
Pine Creek (Zion National Park)

PINE CREEK (Middle Pine Creek)

Fairly strenous technical canyoneering route.
Pine Creek is one of the most popular technical canyoneering routes in Zion National Park and exemplifies the beauty of subterranean slot canyons. With several stunning rappels, the magical arch formations the Cathedral, many downclimbs and cold swims in dark corridors, and the intimidating 100-ft free rappel into the grotto, Pine Creek is a classic.

Upper Pine Creek (Zion National Park)
Upper Pine Creek (Zion National Park)

UPPER PINE CREEK

moderately strenuous off-trail hike.
Upper Pine Creek is the large north-south drainage that crosses under Route 9 roughly .4 miles east of the mouth of the Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel. This wash runs north from the road for over a mile and a half and makes for a great little half-day stroll in some beautiful East Canyon scenery. The hike up to Overlooked Peak can make this a more strenuous adventure.

East Temple Loop (Zion National Park)
East Temple Loop (Zion National Park)

THE EAST TEMPLE LOOP

Strenuous off-trail scrambling route.
The East Temple Loop is an unofficial route starting at the end of the Canyon Overlook Trail. From the viewpoint, you can scramble northeast up to the saddle just under the East Temple, scramble down the bowl on the other side, and then descend into Upper Pine Creek. This route offers amazing views but is not suitable for casual hikers or tourists.

Shelf Canyon (Zion National Park)
Shelf Canyon (Zion National Park)

SHELF CANYON

Moderate off-trail route.
Located just east of the Canyon overlook Trail, Shelf Canyon is one of the more interesting little canyons worthy of exploration. It's a short hike and scramble up the wash to get to a section that slots up into a dark impressive alcove with many ledges (shelf formations) going up the west wall. While this is a short one, the scrambling obstacles may make this hike unsuitable for family hiking.

Progeny Peak (Zion National Park)
Progeny Peak (Zion National Park)

PROGENY PEAK and TWO-PINES ARCH

Fairly strenuous hiking/scrambling route.
Peak 6275 (known as "Progeny Peak") is a nondescript and mostly unnoticed peak formation, but a hike/scramble to the top and back takes only a few hours and provides fantastic views in every direction. A small arch formation known as "Two-Pines Arch" can be found along the way. Good navigation and scrambling skills are required for this one.

Spry Canyon (Zion National Park)
Spry Canyon (Zion National Park)

SPRY CANYON

Strenuous canyoneering route.
Spry Canyon is a large drainage that starts in the Upper East Canyon under Deertrap Mountain and makes its way down to Lower Pine Creek. A descent of Spry Canyon is a fun canyoneering adventure through beautiful and rugged scenery, but several awkward rappels and difficult downclimbs make this a more serious affair than some of the other popular Zion canyoneering routes.

Mountain of the Sun (Zion National Park)
Mountain of the Sun (Zion National Park)

MOUNTAIN OF THE SUN

Strenuous scrambling/climbing route.
If you have ever seen Mountain of the Sun from the top of Deertrap Mountain, the idea of hiking to the top may seem like insanity, but a clever route that navigates the surrounding drainages, faults, and ridgelines does provide access to the summit. For those with good scrambling, climbing, and route-finding skills, this route is an exhilarating and exhausting adventure.

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.

Keyhole Canyon (Zion National Park)
Keyhole Canyon (Zion National Park)

KEYHOLE CANYON

Short technical canyoneering.
Keyhole Canyon barely shows up on a topo map, but it is a beautiful little subterranean slot that offers up some amazing other-worldly slot canyon scenery. This route takes roughly two hours to complete and involves 2-3 short rappels, and as such, it is quite a popular route for beginning canyoneers. Full technical gear is required and wetsuits are recommended.

Jughandle Arch (Zion National Park)
Jughandle Arch (Zion National Park)

JUGHANDLE ARCH (and the Center of the Universe)

Strenuous hiking/scrambling route.
The Jughandle Arch is an interesting arch formation located high above the Keyhole Canyon pantheon. Several fun hiking/scrambling routes make for an interesting day in the area, including hiking to the saddle just under the arch, hiking to the plateau above the arch, and an optional return route via the canyon to the west known as "the Center of the Universe."

South Ariel Peak (Zion National Park)
South Ariel Peak (Zion National Park)

SOUTH ARIEL PEAK

Fairly short scrambling route with exposure.
South Ariel Peak is one of the more accessible peaks in the Upper East Canyon, located above the popular Keyhole Canyon canyoneering route. A fairly straightforward scramble takes you to the summit, but a steep and intimidating Class 4 pitch near the top and big exposure along the summit's razorback make this one to be taken seriously.

Upper Keyhole Canyon (Zion National Park)
Upper Keyhole Canyon (Zion National Park)

UPPER KEYHOLE CANYON

Fairly strenuous hiking/scrambling route.
While most people know Keyhole Canyon as the popular little technical canyoneering route, upstream from the canyoneering route is a beautiful open wash with expansive sandstone formations in all directions. A visit to Upper Keyhole Canyon is a fairly strenuous hike with several little tributaries and narrow alcoves to explore.

Jolley Gulch (Zion National Park)
Jolley Gulch (Zion National Park)

JOLLEY GULCH

Easy short off-trail hike.
Jolley Gulch is a small drainage located right off of the East Rim Trail near the East Entrance Trailhead. Most people see Jolley Gulch from the top as the East Rim Trail makes its way past the dramatic and deep head of the canyon, but for a short and fun day hike, you can also hike up Jolley Gulch from the bottom to see some pleasant off-the-beaten-track scenery.

Checkerboard Mesa Canyon (Zion National Park)
Checkerboard Mesa Canyon (Zion National Park)

CHECKERBOARD MESA CANYON

Moderately strenuous day hike.
Checkerboard Mesa is one of the most recognizable and photogenic landmarks in Zion National Park. The drainage just to the west is unofficially known as Checkerboard Mesa Canyon and makes for a pleasant hike with numerous obstacles akin to Hidden Canyon, the beloved Zion trail that has been closed for years. The top of the saddle is a good destination viewpoint.

Checkerboard Mesa Summit (Zion National Park)
Checkerboard Mesa Summit (Zion National Park)

CHECKERBOARD MESA SUMMIT

Fairly strenuous hiking/scrambling route.
Tourists visiting Zion enjoy seeing the iconic Checkerboard Mesa from the viewing area down the road. A non-technical but strenuous scrambling route up the east chute leads to the top of the White Cliffs and two separate viewpoints: the northern tip of the front face and a second higher viewpoint from the top of the actual summit block.

Separation Peak (Zion National Park)
Separation Peak (Zion National Park)

SEPARATION CANYON (Nippletop, Lonely Peak)

Fairly strenuous hiking/scrambling route.
A hike up "Separation Canyon" is a fun adventure somewhat akin to "Many Pools" with many options for random exploration. A good destination is "Separation Peak," which is a minor peak at the head of the canyon. For those looking to spice it up a bit, the exposed scramble up to Nippletop and the hike further south to "Lonely Peak" are fun options.

Cockeye Falls (Zion National Park)
Cockeye Falls (Zion National Park)

COCKEYE FALLS to CRAWFORD WASH (and Lost Peak)

Strenuous hiking/scrambling route.
Located on the south side of Route 9 just .4 miles east of the second (shorter) tunnel, "Cockeye Falls" is one of the more noticeable landmarks in Zion's East Canyon. A hike up the Cockeye Falls drainage makes for an interesting adventure that gives access to the Parunuweap side of the White Cliffs and also Crawford Wash, one of the larger south-facing washes of the area.

Petroglyph Canyon (Zion National Park)
Petroglyph Canyon (Zion National Park)

PETROGLYPH CANYON

Fairly easy off-trail hiking.
Petroglyph Canyon is an interesting little rock art site containing two panels of fascinating pecked symbols and markings most likely created by the Paiute or Anasazi roughly 1000 years ago. Both panels contain over 150 figures, but many are quite faded and barely visible at this point. Please do not touch or lean against any rock art as this can do serious damage.

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