Starting at the Temple of Sinawava (the final shuttle stop deep in the heart of Zion Canyon), 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 hike as a leisurely stroll, and the trail is also wheelchair accessible. This mostly level hike is roughly 2-miles long (round trip) and may take 1-2 hours to complete (or more if you want to take your time and soak in the views).
Due to the epic popularity of this hike, it is important that all visitors try to minimize their impact:
|Rating:||Easy family stroll; good for children and wheelchair accessible.|
|Access:||Temple of Sinawava (the 7th and final stop for the Zion Canyon Shuttle in Zion's main canyon)|
|Time Required:||1-2 hours|
|Length:||2 miles round-trip|
|Elevation Change:||mostly flat|
The trail starts at the Temple of Sinawava, the 8th and last stop on the Zion Canyon Shuttle. Here, the main canyon gets tall and narrow and has a very sacred feel to it. The Riverside Walk heads a mile and a half up the canyon where you get wonderful views of the Virgin River as well as up-and-personal views of the lush vegetation (ferns, trees, moss) watered by the weeping walls. Take your time and enjoy the atmosphere; this hike is more about the "getting there" than the destination. Several spots along the trail also allow easy access down to the Virgin River if you want to get your feet wet on a hot day.
This trail is also a good place to spot wildlife, including mule deer (often be seen at dusk), wild turkeys, blue herons (often seen fishing in the water), and common squirrels and chipmunks begging for food. Do not succumb to feeding the animals, even though the squirrels work their cuteness game pretty hard here!
The trail ends at a point where the canyon is so narrow that there are no banks of land on either side of the river -- this is the start of the more rugged "Zion Narrows" hike. Most people will play in the water a bit and turn back, but if you feel up for the challenge, the weather is good, and you have good water shoes and a walking stick, you might want to hike up the river some more. For more info on hiking the Narrows, please see the description for the Zion Narrows Day Hike. It is about an hour of fairly strenuous river hiking to get to the famous dark and narrow sections.
Random Note: This trail used to be known as "Gateway to the Narrows," but it was changed to "Riverside Walk" in the 90's to make it sound more hip and family-friendly!
This is a wonderful little hike with beautiful scenery and the calming sound of the flowing water. This little trail is a personal favorite of mine, especially in the late afternoon or early evening when this part of the canyon is out of direct sunlight. But because this trail is so popular, we must all be on our best behavior to keep it looking good for the next people.