Hiking

Angels Landing Zion National Park Springdale Utah

Hiking in Zion National Park is perhaps one of the most rewarding things you will ever experience. The wide array of trails vary in difficulty levels as well as scenic views. Many of the park’s most popular trails are accessed from the valley floor along the 6 mile Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. From April to October, this area is closed to private vehicles and accessed by the free Zion Canyon Shuttle System. During the remaining months, you can drive your own vehicle to the trail head parking areas. More information about the shuttle system can be found here. For some of the more remote trail heads such as the Zion Narrows, West Rim Trail, and The Subway. Below are some helpful links for choosing your trails, as well as a brief overview of some of the park’s most popular hikes.

National Park Service Hiking Map & Guide

Joe’s Recommended Zion Hikes


Easy Hikes

Pa’rus Trail

One of the newer trails in the Park, this is a great trail option for those desiring something leisurely and nonstrenuous. The Pa’rus Trail is 100% paved and mostly flat for its entire duration. Convenient, easy wheelchair access allows for everyone to enjoy all the sights down this path, including several zig-zagging bridges that cross the Virgin River back and forth, multiple river access points to get your feet wet, and even an old, abandoned diversion dam; not to mention all the gorgeous Zion beauty that is guaranteed with every trail. This is also the one and only trail in the Park that allows both pets and bicycles. The Pa’rus Trail starts near the South Campground and ends near Canyon Junction.

Location: Zion Canyon Visitor Center
Distance: 3.5 miles/approx. 2 hours

Archeology Trail

This very short trail begins near the Park Visitor Center and, after about 5-7 minutes of uphill hiking, ends atop a hill overlooking the Visitor Center. The hilltop is an archeological site containing foundational remnants of an ancient Puebloan shelter. This hike is one of two quick ones that start at the Visitor Center. The other is the Virgin River Nature Trail. Visit the Zion Human History Museum to view artifacts from this site.

Location: Zion Canyon Visitor Center
Distance: 0.4 miles/approx. 0.5 hour

Lower Emerald Pool Trail

main_emerald

One of the most popular hikes in Zion National Park, the path to the lower section of Emerald Pools is extremely rewarding considering its short length. The hike is just over a mile in length (one way) which shouldn’t take very long at all, even with young children in your group. The water that rolls off the cliffs creating light waterfalls is captivating, as are the shining pools and lush vegetation that develop as a result. All ages can enjoy this particular hike which is one reason it remains a perennial favorite. Truthfully, you could probably get away with bringing a baby stroller on this one, requiring a little maneuvering here and there, but not to the middle and upper Emerald Pool levels. There are some minor drop-offs so keep an eye on the kiddos. Continue on the trail past the lower section for a longer and more strenuous hike up to both the middle and upper sections. This hike also connects to the Kayenta Trail.

Location: Zion Lodge
Distance: 1.2 miles/approx. 1 hour

The Grotto Trail

Almost completely level, this is a wonderfully pleasant and relaxing 1-mile saunter that includes charming river, meadow, and red cliff views. The trail begins at the Zion Lodge and takes you to The Grotto, a delightful picnic area. Embarking on The Grotto Trail in the early morning or early evening makes for a wonderfully romantic experience. The trail connects the Zion Lodge to The Grotto and can be combined with the Lower Emerald Pool and Kayenta Trails to create a 2.5-mile loop. It can also be your return route back from Angel’s Landing if you prefer not to wait for the shuttle to take you back to Lodge. Interesting fact: The Grotto was actually a campground pre-1960s.

Location: Zion Lodge – The Grotto
Distance: 1 mile/approx. 0.5 hour

Weeping Rock Trail

weeping

One of the shortest official trails in the Park at just under half a mile and certainly one of the most attractively constructed, this steep, rock-paved hike leads to a concave, watery alcove surrounded by lush greenery. Providing shade from the sun as well as offering mist from the falling streams, this is an awesome Zion landmark that you surely should have time to visit given its extremely brief duration. Use the steps down to the river near the large bridge at the trail’s starting point and let the kids play in the water. It’s a magical spot inside the Park and it’s popularity certainly attests to that. There are also restrooms in this parking lot. Insider’s Tip: if during your Zion trip you experience a day of rain, consider coming here. The large waterfall that will likely form in those conditions is really a neat sight. Weeping Rock is also the trailhead for five other Zion hikes, including Hidden Canyon and Observation Point.

Location: Weeping Rock
Distance: 0.4 miles/approx. 0.5 hour

Riverside Walk

riverside

While many hikes in Zion are designed with the end in mind, this one is more about what you see on the way there. The 2-mile round trip is nonstrenuous, mostly paved, fairly level, and highly shaded. This is trail is so named because it follows along the Virgin River very closely and provides up-close views and access to the water at points. Water drips down the narrow canyon walls and seeps through much of the rock, creating lush vegetation and crisp air. Wildlife sightings are also very common in this area. Formerly named “Gateway to the Narrows,” this trail takes you directly to the starting point of the famous Narrows where you can get wet if you want to. Bring water shoes and have fun in and around this beautiful area. Kids and old folks alike will absolutely love Riverside Walk as it is a relatively easy path with a big payoff all the way through to the end and back. Don’t hesitate to bring anyone of all ages. Wheelchairs are accessible here as well.

Location: Temple of Shinawava                                                                                                                                     Distance: 2.2 miles/approx. 1.5 hours

Moderate Hikes

Watchman Trail

watch

This is a wonderful option if you prefer to avoid crowds without leaving the main canyon. Somewhat strenuous at some points but nothing intense, this quaint trail leads to a viewpoint that gives you an excellent view of the trail’s namesake, Watchman Peak, as well as most of lower Zion Canyon, including the Visitor Center complex. The city of Springdale can be seen in the distance as well from the viewpoint. This path doesn’t have much shade at all so it is recommended to embark on this hike early in the morning when the sun hasn’t directly hit this area yet. This is certainly a family-friendly hike, but keep in mind that there are a few cliff edges here and there so keep them close. Plan on 1 to 2 hours for this one.

Location: Zion Canyon Visitor Center
Distance: 2.7 miles/approx. 2 hours

Sand Bench Trail

sand

Like Watchman Trail, choose this hiking option if you want to stay in the main canyon but still avoid crowds. This is an underused and highly underrated trail with extremely unique views. This trail gets its name from the fact that large portions of its duration require hiking over fine sand, which is also why it resides in the “moderate” section of our hiking page. Walking through sand turns out to be quite a workout. It also qualifies Sand Bench Trail as one of the most unique hikes in the Park. In addition to the sandy portions, this trail also includes some rocky parts with boulders to scale. On this adventure, you’ll see incredible sights, including great views of the Court of the Patriarchs and The Sentinel. And don’t be surprised if you see tourists on horseback. This trail is designated for guided horseback rides.

Location: Zion Lodge
Distance: 7.6 miles/approx. 5 hours

Upper Emerald Pool Trail

main_emerald

You will be well rewarded by going the extra distance to the upper section of Emerald Pools. From the lower to the middle section is an additional 200 ft in elevation and then from the middle to the upper section is approximately another 200 ft. The middle section is where the hike begins to get moderately strenuous and remains that way through the upper section. Passing the middle section is gorgeous largely due to its majestic pools. The upper section gets a bit sandy and rocky but also rewards you with more beautiful pools. To get back down there are two options: back the way you came or the alternate loop back to the Lodge. Hiking the full length of the Emerald Pools Trail (lower, middle, upper, and back) should last somewhere between 2 to 4 hours depending on how fast or how leisurely you decide to take it.

Location: Zion Lodge
Distance: 1 mile/approx. 1 hour

Kayenta Trail

The Kayenta Trail is simply an alternate route to reach the Emerald Pools Trail. It’s about 1 mile from the Kayenta Trail starting point to the middle section of Emerald Pools. You’ll find that taking this route rather than the traditional Emerald Pools trailhead will provide you with a cooler hiking experience due to the cool breeze that typically comes through this area from a nearby canyon. If you’ve hiked Emerald Pools before and have always begun from the official trailhead, take the Kayenta Trail on your next visit for something new. Note: this path is not paved (similar to the regular Emerald Pools Trail) and does contain a few long drop-offs along the way.

Location: The Grotto
Distance: 2 miles/approx. 2 hours

Canyon Overlook Trail

canyon

There are not very many official trails in the upper East Canyon, but this is one of them. At about 1 mile in length, this hike isn’t long, but it packs a punch. On this maintained trail, you’ll get great views of the Pine Creek slot canyon as well as stunning views of the main canyon once you get to the viewpoint at the end, not to mention the cool (temperature cool) alcove that is a favorite resting spot on this trail. This trail is a bit rocky and there are some high drop-offs, but the trail is mostly fenced. This hike must find a place on every first-time visitor’s list to Zion National Park! It starts just east of the Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel.

Location: Zion-Mt. Carmel Hwy                                                                                                                                     Distance: 1 mile/approx. 1 hour

Taylor Creek Trail

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Though there aren’t very many official trails in the Kolob Section, this certainly is one of the more popular ones in that area. Clocking in at just a little under 2.5 miles one way,  this trail will take you through finger canyons, along riverbeds, over and around boulders, past historical cabins, and next to pink and orange “magic” sandstone. The main attraction of Taylor Creek Trail – the Double Arch Alcove – is found at the trail’s end and is surely one of the coolest things to see in the Park. The seeping water forms curious white and black lines that cover the cave’s walls. A maximum of 12 people are allowed per group. “The Middle Fork of Taylor Creek” is a commonly-known alternate name for this section of Zion National Park.

Location: Kolob Canyons Road
Distance: 5 miles/approx. 4 hours

Timber Creek Overlook Trail

timber

Like Taylor Creek, this hike is found in the Kolob Section of the Park (otherwise known as the northwestern section). Tourists typically plan to take a leisurely drive down scenic Kolob Canyons Road to a viewpoint at the road’s end called the Kolob Canyons Viewpoint. The Timber Creek Overlook Trail starting point is located here and will take you right over to the ridgeline to take in even more spectacular views of the Pine Valley Mountains, Kolob Terrace, and of course Timber Creek. It’s only one-mile round trip and shouldn’t take more than 20-45 minutes to complete. Though considered a hike that is moderately strenuous, it’s short enough that children should be fine. If you prefer seeing sights that require minimal physical exertion, this is the one for you.

Location: Kolob Canyons Road
Distance: 1 mile/approx. 0.5 hour


Strenuous Hikes

Angels Landing via West Rim Trail

angels
Arguably the most iconic landmark in Zion, Angels Landing is written on the bucket lists of travelers all over the world. Owning one of the most incredible views you will ever see, this hike is challenging and not for the faint of heart. Long drop-offs, including a final section along a steep, narrow ridge to the summit render this hike not suitable for small children or anyone with a fear of heights. Angels Landing is certainly a day hike lasting around 4-5 hours so an early start is recommended. Your legs will burn but you will never forget it! Tens of thousands of visitors return to Springdale every year to conquer the Landing over again because it’s just that incredible!

Location: The Grotto
Distance: 5.4 miles/approx. 4 hours

Hidden Canyon Trail

hidden
Many Zion adventurers consider this one of their most favorite hikes in the entire Park. Located east of the Great White Throne, this manufactured hike is more about the trail itself than reaching a viewpoint destination. A lot of uphill hiking through the mouth of a narrow canyon is involved here, including some sandy switchbacks and exposed sections with guiding chains. Once you get to the mouth of Hidden Canyon (which is the official trail’s end), you have the option to continue a bit further, scrambling over rocks and some overgrown, moss-covered sections until reaching an impassable wall at which point you would turn back and return the way you came. This is a phenomenal section of the Park that you will love.

Location: Weeping Rock
Distance: 2.4 miles/approx. 3 hours

Observation Point via East Rim Trail

observation

One of the longer hikes in the main canyon, Observation Point provides its visitors with one of the most spectacular views ever. A bit more strenuous than even Angels Landing, this paved trail will take you across many zig-zags, bringing you into Echo Canyon, a slot canyon that is a refreshing change of scenery (and temperature) and eventually up to a sandy plateau that is the main viewing area. From this vantage point, you can see Angels Landing far below as well as other landmarks including the valley road that will look tiny from up there. Prepare for a great workout when embarking on Observation Point. This hike is approximately 8 miles round-trip and should take somewhere around 6 hours total.

Location: Weeping Rock
Distance: 8 miles/approx. 6 hours

The Narrows via East Rim Trail

narrows

The legendary Narrows of Zion is a location unlike any other in the world and is simply one of the most magical and incredible sites anywhere. This “bottom-up” version of the Narrows hike is the most popular route by far and involves trekking through the Virgin River as it flows through the slot canyon. Throughout the journey, the water depth will fluctuate depending on the stretch, from ankle deep to waist deep so dress accordingly and bring plenty of drinking water. The further upstream you go, the more incredible the sights become. Go as far as you desire and then turn back the way you came. Prepare to be wowed by Mother Nature on this hike. This experience is unforgettable and the area is a true natural wonder. Note: always check the conditions at the visitor center before attempting as water levels can sometimes be too high to allow entrance.

Location: Temple of Sinawava                                                                                                                                         Distance: 9.4 miles/approx. 8 hours

Kolob Arch via La Verkin Creek Trail

kolob

The journey to the famous Kolob Arch is an extremely pleasant and lengthy day hike that is surely the most popular way hikers utilize the La Verkin Creek Trail. Boasting desert, forest, and mountainous terrain, this trail is delightful and not too strenuous in and of itself but its length certainly categorizes it as strenuous overall. You’ll get to do a bit of rock scrambling on your way to the impressive Kolob Arch (one of the world’s largest freestanding arches) as well as pass through various camp sites. This is a popular route for backpackers and overnight campers. If you prefer longer hikes that are somewhat straightforward, this is the choice for you. Remember that a max of 12 people are allowed per group on this hike.

Location: Kolob Canyons Road
Distance: 14 miles/approx. 8 hours

QUICK FAQS

  • Did you know that many people consider Zion the best hiking destination in the world?
  • Did you know that back-country permits are required for all overnight hiking expeditions in Zion?
  • Did you know that some of Zion's most popular hikes have paved trails and are accessible for everyone?

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