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the iconic view from Observation Point during a rainstorm (Zion National Park) -- © 2013 Joe Braun Photography

An Iconic Zion Hike that is Sadly Closed:

CLOSURE NOTICE: The lower East Rim Trail/Observation Point Trail from Weeping Rock is currently closed due to a massive landslide. (On August 24, 2019, a large rockfall off of the face of Cable Mountain buried the Weeping Rock pantheon in sand and rubble. The trail was previously closed from a smaller landslide that blocked the trail in January 2019.) Alternatively if the dirt roads are clear, you can drive up to the east plateau and hike the East Mesa Trail to Observation Point.

Fairly strenuous day hike
Weeping Rock Trailhead (the 7th stop for the Zion Canyon Shuttle)
Time Required:
4-6 hours
4 miles one-way (Weeping Rock to Observation Point)
Elevation Change:
2100-ft elevation gain along the trail
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 described below is for reference with the hope that this trail will one day open up again!

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. And from the final viewpoint, you will be over 700 feet higher than Angels Landing looking down at it and the beautiful main canyon.

Hiking from Weeping Rock to Observation Point:

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.

The East Rim Trail/Observation Point Trail heading into Echo Canyon (Zion National Park) -- © 2013 Joe Braun Photography

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.)

The Observation Point Trail reaches the top of the rim above Zion Canyon (Zion National Park) -- © 2013 Joe Braun Photography

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.

Joe's Spin:

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!

VIEW THE PHOTOGRAPHS! Return to Zion Canyon

Observation Point Trail Topo Map

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