JOE’S GUIDE TO ZION NATIONAL PARKCitrusMilo.com
ZION NATIONAL PARK'S BEST HIKES!

West Rim Trail hikingZion National Park has a wide range of hiking opportunities ranging from short family-friendly hikes to longer strenuous day hikes and 2 to 3-day backpacking trips. 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. Two of Zion's most glamorized hikes, Angels Landing and the Zion Narrows, have grown exponentially crowded in recent years and are constantly overtaken by large lines and backups during the tourist season. If you are looking for a more quiet and relaxing wilderness experience, there are still many other opportunities for exploration! Bring the National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map with you to find your way through the different sections of Zion National Park.

Click on any of the hikes below for full descriptions and photos. IMPORTANT: You are responsible for your own safety. It is up to you to decide and determine if a trail or route is appropriate for you and plan for your hike accordingly.

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.
The Best Short-and-Easy Hikes:

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.
Trail Information  Photos

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.
Trail Information  Photos

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).
Trail Information  Photos

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.
Trail Information  Photos

CANYON OVERLOOK TRAILCanyon Overlook Trail
Rating: easy short hike with some exposure. a Zion classicfamily-friendly

If you have a vehicle, drive east on Route 9 to go through the famous Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel and enjoy the ride through the wonderous slickrock of the Upper East Canyon. The Canyon Overlook Trail is one of the few official trails in the upper East Canyon; starting just east of the tunnel, it is a nice short-but-sweet hike that ends at a great viewpoint looking into the main canyon. If this is your first trip to Zion, this one is a must-do hike! Caution: while this hike is not very strenuous, there are a few exposed spots where a fall could be dangerous.
Trail Information  Photos

NORTHGATE PEAKS TRAILNorthgate Peaks Trail
Rating: short easy family hike. family-friendly

For something a bit more remote that takes you out of the popular main canyon, try the Northgate Peaks Trail in the Kolob Terrace section. At 4 miles total, this hike is a bit longer than the other hikes on this "easy" list, but the trail is mostly level will reward you with some great views. And it's also a great excuse to drive up the Kolob Terrace Road and see some remote scenery that most people miss. The view at the end of the trail is more "subtle" than views from the West Rim Trail or the main canyon, but it gives you a fascinating peek into the Great West Canyon.
Trail Information  Photos

TIMBER CREEK OVERLOOK TRAILTimber Creek Overlook Trail
Rating: quick easy stroll. family-friendly

If you're looking to escape the crowds of the main canyon and see something different, the Kolob Canyons Road is a wonderfully scenic drive that gives wonderful views into several of the Kolob "finger canyons." The road ends high up on a ridge at a great viewpoint known as the "Kolob Canyons Viewpoint." The Timber Creek Overlook Trail is a short stroll that heads south from the main parking lot to offer more pleasant views from the top of the ridgeline. Sunset is a wonderful time to do this hike.
Trail Information  Photos

Fairly Strenuous Day Hikes:

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.
Trail Information  Photos

ZION NARROWS DAY HIKEZion Narrows Day Hike
Rating: moderately strenuous/strenuous river hiking. a Zion classic

For tourists or casual hikers who want to see the best of the Zion Narrows, this is the route to do. Starting at the Temple of Sinawava, you can hike up the Riverside Walk trail and then continue hiking right up the river to see some of the best "narrows" sections of the North Fork of the Virgin River. Hike up as far as you want to go and then turn around and retrace your steps. A side hike up Orderville Canyon is also a good detour to see even more amazing slot canyon scenery.
Route Information  Photos

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.
Trail Information  Photos

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.
Trail Information  Photos

EAST RIM TRAIL (East Entrance to Weeping Rock)East Rim Trail
Rating: fairly strenuous longer day hike. a Zion classic

Most people are familiar with the lower section of the East Rim Trail that leads to Hidden Canyon and the Observation Point Trail, but few people hike the 11-mile long East Rim Trail in its entirety. Though usually compared unfavorably to its bigger brother (the West Rim Trail), a day hike along the East Rim Trail takes one through some wonderful scenery from the East Entrance through Echo Canyon down to Weeping Rock in the main canyon.
Trail Information  Photos

TAYLOR CREEK TRAIL (Middle Fork of Taylor Creek)Taylor Creek Trail (Middle Fork of Taylor Creek)
Rating: fairly easy day hike. a Zion classicfamily-friendly

The Taylor Creek Trail is one of the few official and popular trails in the Kolob Canyons section: a pleasant 5-mile (roundtrip) hike up one of the enchanting "finger" canyons. The hike is fairly easy, but the trail is rough in spots and a little bit of stream-crossing is involved. Along the way are two historic old cabins from the early 1900's. Eventually the canyon walls get get narrower until the route officially ends at one of the more famous Zion landmarks: the Double Arch Alcove.
Trail Information  Photos

THE SUBWAY FROM THE BOTTOM (Non-Technical Hike)Bottom-Up Subway Hike
Rating: strenuous day hike. a Zion classic

A long strenuous day hike up one of the most popular canyons in Zion, the "bottom-up" hike doesn't require any rappels or swims like the "top-down" route, but it is a strenuous backcountry hike through beautiful cascades and stepped waterfalls to get to the classic lower Subway formation. Note: a wilderness permit is required for this hike and due to its epic popularity, a lottery system has been put in place. If you are lucky enough to get a permit, do this hike!
Route Information  Photos

Continue to:
Backpacking Routes Canyoneering Routes

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