JOE’S GUIDE TO ZION NATIONAL PARKCitrusMilo.com
HIKES IN ZION'S MAIN CANYON

The main canyon (Zion Canyon) is the popular touristy section of Zion National Park that features all of the amenities: the Visitor Center, the Zion Human History Museum, the Zion Lodge, and the tourist town of Springdale just to the south or the park. During the height of tourist season, regular shuttle buses take visitors up the canyon, with many interesting stops and trailheads along the way. The majority of officially-maintained trails are found here and hikes up to the viewpoints are well worth the effort. Famous landmarks include the Emerald Pools, Angels Landing, Weeping Rock, and the Great White Throne.

EMERALD POOLS TRAILEmerald Pools Trail
Rating: easy family stroll. a Zion classicfamily-friendly

Emerald Pools is a Zion classic: an oasis in the middle of the desert. The hike is a collection of short trails that meander past a small, lushly-vegetated stream that rolls down from the cliffs and forms several interesting "pools." If you have only two hours to spend on a leisurely non-strenuous hike with the entire family, I would probably pick this one. As this hike is not very difficult and it is located just across from the Zion Lodge, this trail gets crowded in the summer months. Be prepared to share the views with many other people.
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THE WATCHMAN TRAILThe Watchman Trail
Rating: easy to moderately strenuous day hike. family-friendly

Starting in between the Visitor Center and the South Campground, the Watchman Trail is a short trail (roughly 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. While the trail doesn't actually take you to the top of the Watchman mounting, you can still get 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. This trail is completely exposed to the sun, so during the hot summer months, this hike is best done on a cloudy day or in the morning when this side of the main canyon is still in the shade.
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VISITOR CENTER STROLLS (Archeology Trail, etc.)Archeology Trail
Rating: short and easy stroll. family-friendly

Located just past the main entrance to Zion National Park north of the town of Springdale, the Visitor Center is the first destination for most tourists entering the park and is also the starting point for the shuttle bus system that takes visitors up Zion Canyon. While many people know of the more popular trails nearby, the Pa'rus Trail and the Watchman Trail, the Visitor Center is also home to a pair of lesser-known strolls: the Archeology Trail and the Virgin River Nature Trail. Both are very short walks that just about anybody can enjoy in a matter of minutes.
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PA'RUS TRAILPa'rus Trail
Rating: easy leisurely stroll. family-friendly

The Pa'rus Trail is one of the newer and most accessible trails in Zion National Park. It is the only trail in Zion that is open to bicycles and pets, and it is also one of the few wheelchair-accessible trails in the park. Starting at the South Campground just north of the Visitor Center, this wide, paved trail skirts the Virgin River in the flat and open lower section of Zion Canyon and ends at the Canyon Junction. This trail is great for a leisurely stroll at sunrise or sunset.
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COURT OF THE PATRIARCHSCourt of the Patriarchs
Rating: very easy quick family stroll. family-friendly

The Court of the Patriarchs is barely a trail, but it is worth seeing if this is your first trip to Zion. Get off at the Court of the Patriarchs shuttle stop and take the two-minute trail up to a little viewpoint above the trees. This spot gives you a fairly unhindered view of several mountains on the west side of the canyon. While there are many better views awaiting you in Zion, this one is worth the ten minutes of effort. Then it's time to get back on the shuttle and move on to more exciting things!
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THE SAND BENCH LOOPSand Bench Trail/Sand Bench Loop
Rating: moderately strenuous day hike. family-friendly

The Sand Bench Loop is a not-so-loved trail that starts at the Court of the Patriarchs shuttle stop and makes its way up to the top of the "sand bench" -- a massive landslide under the Sentinel that dammed up the main canyon several thousand years ago. While the trail does offer some good views of the surrounding mountains and the main canyon below, the trail is mostly sand and can be very hot and miserable during the summer months. This loop is also the designated trail for guided horseback rides within the park, so while the hike is relatively short, trudging through sand and horse droppings can take a fair amount of effort.
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WEEPING ROCKWeeping Rock
Rating: very easy quick family stroll. a Zion classicfamily-friendly

Weeping Rock is a famous landmark of Zion National Park and is an easily accessible tourist attraction. Weeping Rock is a large bowl-shaped alcove where the lower layer of sandstone has eroded away; water that has been slowly descending within the sandstone formations reaches an impermeable layer of rock and is forced out the side causing the "weeping." The weeping walls form a beautifully lush hanging garden with a little flowing stream below. A short 10-minute stroll takes you under the beautiful alcove with wonderful water sprinkling from above.
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OBSERVATION POINT TRAILObservation Point
Rating: fairly strenuous day hike. a Zion classic

The hike from the Weeping Rock Trailhead to Observation Point is a classic hike in Zion Canyon and the viewpoint at the end of the trail is one of the most iconic in Zion National Park. The Observation Point Trail is a strenuous 8-mile round trip hike along a seemingly unrelenting uphill paved trail that was chiselled out of the canyon walls and cliff formations. Along the way, hikers get a glimpse into the dark and mysterious Echo Canyon with its beautiful dark slot canyon 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 hike.
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HIDDEN CANYONHidden Canyon
Rating: fairly strenuous day hike. a Zion classic

Hidden Canyon gives hikers a taste of canyoneering without requiring any climbing or rappelling to complete the hike. Starting at the Weeping Rock trailhead, hike up the same trail to Observation Point, but take the side trail to Hidden Canyon instead. The somewhat exposed route will lead you to the mouth of Hidden Canyon -- a beautifully narrow canyon "hidden" above the main canyon. The trail officially ends at the mouth of the canyon, but you can explore quite a ways back.
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ANGELS LANDINGAngels Landing
Rating: fairly strenuous and exposed day hike. a Zion classic

Angels Landing is one of the defacto classic hikes in Zion and one of the most stunning viewpoints you will ever experience, but it's not recommended for anybody with a fear of heights. Starting at the Grotto trailhead, the hike to Angels Landing follows the West Rim Trail up and out of the west side of the main canyon. Angels Landing is unique fin-like mountain formation that juts out to the center of the main canyon. The trail follows the narrow spine to the final viewpoint roughly 1500 feet above the canyon floor. Along the way, chains, handrails, and steps reassure hikers at the more exposed sections.
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WEST RIM TRAIL (Bottom-Up Day Hike)West Rim Trail
Rating: fairly strenuous to very strenuous day hike.

The West Rim Trail is one of the classic backcountry trails in Zion: a 15-mile long trail along the upper west plateau that connects Lava Point (the highest point in Zion) with the Grotto Trailhead in Zion's popular main canyon. Most visitors to Zion are familiar with the lower section of the 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 wonderous sandstone formations all the way to the upper plateau.
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THE GROTTO TRAILGrotto Trail
Rating: short and easy stroll. family-friendly

The Grotto Trail is a short half a mile trail that starts at the Zion Lodge (the 5th stop for the Zion Canyon Shuttle) and ends at the Grotto trailhead and picnic area (the 6th stop). The trail is almost completely level as it follows the canyon floor though a pleasant wooded meadow and then runs alongside the Zion Canyon Road before ending at the Grotto. While this trail is not a destination hike, it makes for a short and pleasant stroll, especially in the morning or early evening hours or on a cloudy day when temperatures are moderate.
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RIVERSIDE WALKRiverside Walk
Rating: easy family stroll (wheelchair accessible). a Zion classicfamily-friendly

The Riverside Walk is a wonderful little hike on a fairly level paved trail that affords great views of the Virgin River and wonderfully lush hanging gardens and trees surrounded by tall weeping walls. This hike is very family friendly: young children and the elderly alike can do this trail, and the trail is also wheelchair accessible. This mostly level hike is roughly two-miles long (round trip) and may take one to two hours to complete (or more if you want to take your time and soak in the views).
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BANKS of the VIRGIN RIVERBanks of the Virgin River
Rating: family-friendly leisurely stroll. family-friendly

Flowing through the heart of Zion National Park, the Virgin River is the life force that helps carve out the wondrous landscape. While there are many exciting hikes in the main canyon that take you up to stunning viewpoints or lush oases, sometimes it's fun to just wander around aimlessly along the banks of the Virgin River to enjoy the sound of the water in the open canyon. Two family-friendly options can be found at Canyon Junction and Weeping Rock. The hikes described here don't really have a goal or destination--perfect for anybody looking for a relaxing stroll.
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CABLE MOUNTAINCable Mountain
Rating: fairly strenuous hiking route.

Cable Mountain is a fairly remote viewpoint overlooking the main canyon. The cable works at the top of the mountain are a historical leftover of a working cable system from the early 1900's that brought timber and supplies from the upper east plateau to the canyon below. The operation was shut down by 1930, but the ruins remain. Because of the amount of effort it takes to get to the viewpoint, the hike to Cable Mountain offers you escape from the crowds of the main canyon.
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DEERTRAP MOUNTAINDeertrap Mountain
Rating: fairly strenuous hiking route.

Like Cable Mountain, Deertrap Mountain is another fairly remote viewpoint that requires many miles of hiking, but its beauty is well worth the effort for a strong hiker. You can see everything from this mountain: the majestic White Cliffs surrounding the main canyon, Angels Landing and the Zion Lodge far below, and even Springdale in the distance to the south. Not too many people venture up here because it is just a little too strenuous for your average day hike, so it is a great spot for solitude.
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LOWER PINE CREEKLower Pine Creek
Rating: short easy hike.

Just past the Canyon Junction on Route 9 (heading towards the Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel) is the impressive canyon of Lower Pine Creek, marked by the Great Arch in the distance. Although you can't see it too easily from the road, Lower Pine Creek does have a fair amount of flowing water. A pair of short hikes from the first and second switchbacks can take you to a cute little waterfall and also several fun swimming holes.
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MENU FALLSMenu Falls, Zion National Park
Rating: easy short family stroll. family-friendly

Menu Falls is a nice little alcove and waterfall seep located roughly half a mile north of the Big Bend shuttle stop. This forgotten spot is so named because a picture of it was included on the cover of the original Zion Lodge menu. The actual falls and waterflow are quite small, but the ambience and sounds of the water are sublime. This has traditionally been a prime spot for exchanging vows in the park!
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ECHO CANYON (Middle Echo Canyon)Echo Canyon
Rating: moderately strenuous technical canyoneering. technical canyoneering route

Echo Canyon is the large canyon complex in the main canyon located just across from Angels Landing. Most hikers catch only a few glimpses into its depths as they hike the Observation Point/East Rim Trails through Echo Canyon, but the middle section of canyon makes for a great and relatively short canyoneering adventure. The route involves several short rappels, downclimbs, and swims through cold and sometimes putrid water, but the subterranean scenery is just as outstanding as other comparable Zion slots like Pine Creek or Keyhole Canyon.
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BEHUNIN CANYONBehunin Canyon
Rating: strenuous technical canyoneering. technical canyoneering route

Tucked away above Zion's popular main canyon, Behunin Canyon is a majestic hanging canyon that cuts through the White Cliffs formations from the upper plateau down into the Emerald Pools pantheon. Hikers along the West Rim Trail can get a glimpse down into the impressive canyon as the trail starts its steep switchbacks down off of Horse Pasture Plateau. A descent of Behunin Canyon makes for a fun canyoneering adventure through beautiful remote canyon scenery and several big-wall rappels make this a more serious and intimidating affair than the more popular canyoneering routes.
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LADY MOUNTAINLady Mountain
Rating: strenuous scrambling/climbing route. technical canyoneering route

If you have ever stood in front of the Zion Lodge and looked at all of the surrounding peaks, you have probably noticed the tall and imposing Lady Mountain across the way, guarding the Emerald Pools pantheon. While hiking to the summit may seem like a deranged idea to casual tourists, Lady Mountain was actually an officially maintained trail since the early days of the park, but it was closed in the 1960s as it was deemed too dangerous. For those with good scrambling, climbing, and route-finding skills, following the remnants of the old route to the summit makes for an exhilarating adventure.
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HIDDEN CANYON (Top-Down Canyoneering Route)Hidden Canyon
Rating: fairly strenuous technical canyoneering. technical canyoneering route

Hidden Canyon is best known as a day hike up from the Grotto Trailhead for those looking for a secluded narrow canyon diversion on their way up or down the Observation Point/East Rim Trail, but descending from the top makes for an interesting technical canyoneering adventure. As a fault-based canyon as opposed to a water-carved slot, Hidden Canyon is admittedly less scenic or compelling than many of the more popular canyoneering routes in Zion, but it is a fun and ever-changing obstacle course of boulders, logs, and debris that make their way down the seemingly endless chute.
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Continue to the Upper East Canyon ->


Hiking symbols used for descriptions:
a Zion classic ZION CLASSIC: a must-do hike if you want to see the best of Zion!
family-friendly FAMILY-FRIENDLY: a good choice for those with children who like to hike.
backpacking route BACKPACKING: a route enjoyable as a multi-day hike.
technical canyoneering or climbing route TECHNICAL: canyoneering or scrambling route requiring technical gear and climbing and/or rappelling experience. Not suitable for casual hikers.
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