The number one reason visitors flock to Zion National Park each year is for the incredible hiking opportunities. With the park covering a vast 150,000 acres of land, there is plenty to explore. When it comes to different hikes within the park, Zion presents nearly endless possibilities. Hikers can enjoy strenuous hikes that take days to complete or just take a light stroll through paved walkways.
Since there are many choices of easy, moderate, or strenuous hikes, visitors of all experience and fitness levels will enjoy the trails of Zion. Even those who are not avid or experienced hikers will be able to fill many days with entertaining hiking excursions. With three difficulty levels to choose from and something different to enjoy on each trail, every hike through Zion will be an unforgettable adventure.
Just because a hike is easy doesn’t mean it’s boring. The easy hikes throughout Zion National Park have many amazing views of the landscape. Most easy hikes take less than two hours to complete and will be on smooth trails. Hikers will not encounter difficult obstacles to overcome during these hikes, either. Though the hikes are short and leisurely, they are packed with experiences that will create unforgettable memories.
Canyon Overlook Trail
This short, easy hike has an unbelievable scenic view without having to hike for miles or drudge up steep ascents. At about a mile long, this hike takes less than an hour to complete, which means many hikers will spend more time marveling at the view than they spend hiking.
To get to Canyon Overlook Trail, visitors should go to the east end of Zion National Park. They will park their vehicles just before the Zion-Mt. Carmel tunnel. From here, it is a short hike from the road that leads into a large, breathtaking cave. When hikers emerge from the cave, they will be treated to an amazing view of the park. This is the perfect hike for every visitor who wants to see the best of Zion and take some Instagram-worthy photos.
Lower Emerald Pools Trail
Round trip this hike is about 1 mile and takes about one hour. The paved trail leads you to 3 stunning waterfalls and a lower pool that makes it all worth it. The access for this trail is extremely convenient as well. You enter through the opposite side of the lane from the Zion Lodge parking lot. Unffortunately, this trail is closed during winter months, but for those visiting during the other parts of the year, be sure to add this to your Zion Hike Bucket List.
This trail takes about one and a half hours to complete and is approximately 3.5 miles. The hike is ideal for beginners. The paved trail takes you from the Virgin River near the south campground to the Zion-Canyon junction. The access for this trail is conveniently located near the south campground at Zion.
This hike is about as leisurely as a stroll through Zion can get. An even walking surface and shaded environment make this trail perfect for families. There are many incredible sights to see, including surroundings that are coved with hanging gardens of wildflowers especially during summer and spring, and a refreshing surprise at the end of the trail.
Riverside Walk takes hikers from the Temple of Sinawava to the Virgin River. This two-mile-long hike is known as the Gateway to the Narrows because the end of this trail is the beginning of the popular Narrows trail. When the entrance of the Narrows is reached, hikers can wade and splash through a refreshing pool of water before they head back. This short hike, which takes most hikers around two hours to complete, is an incredible way to experience the beauty of Zion without embarking on a long, strenuous journey.
Among the many beautiful rock formations throughout Zion National Park is the Watchman. This formation shoots from the ground, towering above the vast red rock landscape. The Watchman Trail doesn’t climb to the staggering heights of the Watchman, but it does give a fantastic view of the formation from ground level.
The Watchman Trail is a three-mile-long hike that is a hidden gem within Zion. It is usually not crowded, so hikers can enjoy some peace and quiet on this hike. This hike takes about three hours to complete and will lead hikers along a red rock trail which is rough in some portions but can be completed by even the most inexperienced hikers. Since this trail is not shaded, it is best done in the morning or evening to avoid the scorching midday sun. Hikers and their families will love the connection they will feel with Zion during this light hike.
Weeping Rock Trail
Round trip to weeping rock trail is about 0.8km/0.5mi and to reach the trail it takes about half hour. The trail is about 98 feet, easy hike, and minor drop-offs. Smooth trail ends at rock-alcove with drenched springs. The walls are decorated with wildflower hanging gardens during summer and spring time. Trailside exhibits are possibly not available and access to weeping rock trail is through weeping rock parking lot.
Photo Credit: justmecpb on flickr
Trails that are deemed moderate are usually difficult enough to challenge hikers of all experience levels in terms of distance and technical challenges. However, they are not so difficult that a physically fit novice wouldn’t be able to complete them. Moderate hikes can take anywhere from a few hours to a full day. They can be challenging both physically and mentally, but these challenges are well worth it. After completing one of these moderately difficult hikes, hikers will feel an overwhelming sense of accomplishment.
The Observation Point Trail begins at the Weeping Rock Trailhead and leads up to the area of Observation Point. The trail is eight miles long and will take the average hiker around four to six hours to complete. The climb is steep and leads hikers up to elevations of over 2,100 feet. The trail is hard paved rock, manmade from the canyon walls, so the rocky terrain isn’t an issue in most areas. The strenuous part of this climb is the steep elevation and the unrelenting sun. However, once the trail is completed, the view at the top is one of a kind.
Middle Emerald Pools Trail
The Middle Emerald Pools trail takes you to both the middle and lower pools. Round trip, the trail covers about 2 miles and takes approximately 2 hours to complete. As with the Lower Emerald Pools Trail, the Middle Emerald Pools Trail is closed during the winter.
Angels Landing begins at the Grotto trailhead and leads hikers along a precarious red rock ridge. This five-mile-long trail, which takes around two to four hours to complete, features switchbacks, rocky terrain, and breathtaking heights. This trail gets so high and so precarious that it is not recommended for hikers who are uneasy with heights. Once hikers have reached the end of the hike they will have an unbelievable view of Zion. Those who dare embark on this journey will find that is was well worth the trip.
Difficult hikes are certainly not for inexperienced hikers. These hikes are long, grueling, and can take many days to complete. They often involve camping in the wilderness, using technical skills like rappelling and climbing, and having advanced knowledge of the landscape. The terrain of difficult hikes is incredibly unpredictable, ranging from steep climbs to deep pools of water and everything in between. Embarking on a difficult hike through Zion will be one of the most difficult and rewarding experiences of a hiker’s life.
This hike will take an entire day but will not require camping overnight. The 14-mile-long trail takes most hikers a full twelve-hour day, hiking from dawn to dusk. The trail is long, exposed to the harsh sun in many places, and has moderately rocky terrain. Whether hikers take Kolob Canyons Road at Lee Pass or Hop Valley Trailhead to get to Kolob Arch, it will be a long journey with a beautiful, scenic payoff.
This 20-mile-long journey is not for the faint of heart. This hike takes most people two or three days to complete. Parts of this hike are along Parunaweap Canyon where the layers of red rock on the canyon walls surround hikers. Other portions are in the heat of the sun on the rocky landscape. Since this hike requires camping, hikers will need to obtain the proper camping permits and make sure they adhere to park rules.
West Rim Trail
This trail begins at Lava Rock and winds its way through the most beautiful areas of the park. If hikers desire, they can even take a side trail to hike Angels Landing. When hiked straight through without detouring to other trails, West Rim Trail is about 18 miles long and takes two days. The amazing sights on this trail should put it on every experienced hiker’s Zion bucket list.