Shorter Hikes That Still Present a ChallengeNov 3, 2017
Shorter Hikes That Still Present a Challenge
This post is dedicated to answering one of the most surprisingly common questions that we get asked, especially inside the Springdale & Zion Canyon Visitor Center: what are some shorter hikes that still present a challenge? Because this particular inquiry is heard so often, we wanted to answer it here on the site and provide some fantastic options that fit this very description. The suggestions you will see below are all what are commonly known as day hikes; trails that have a roundtrip duration of approximately 6 hours or less and that certainly give you more to do than walking leisurely. These trails present a moderate and fairly strenuous hiking experience. For all of you interested in hiking Zion in the near future, perhaps save the following information for reference.
Checkerboard Mesa Canyon
The first two on our list are trails that get considerably less foot traffic than some of the more well-known hikes in Zion National Park, which is incredibly unfortunate because these hikes are phenomenal and hold up – we think so, at least – to many of the “best” hikes in the park. Checkerboard Mesa Canyon and Hidden Canyon have many similarities if you’re familiar with Hidden Canyon. On the Checkerboard trail, you’ll find yourself doing some boulder scaling as well as hiking through sand. To get to the trailhead, go just west of the famous landmark, Checkerboard Mesa. Depending on your speed, the whole hike should take between 2-4 hours.
The Sand Bench Loop
The second recommended hike is the Sand Bench Loop. If you’ve been to Zion National Park before and still have not heard of this one, it’s alright. It’s probably not your fault. You’re not going to find a t-shirt or a mug in the Visitor Center with Sand Bench Loop printed on it. But again, it’s a pity this hike doesn’t get more attention. It’s very similar to Checkerboard Mesa Canyon in terms of what to expect during your journey. Sand, however, is this hike’s strenuous characteristic. You hike through a lot of it, sometimes fine and sometimes deep. Your legs will certainly get a work out when hiking Zion through the Sand Bench Loop. It takes you through a wonderfully solitary section of the park. If that sounds like something up your alley, you’re going to love this one.
Finally, we’re recommended the bottom-up version of the Narrows as a hike that isn’t long but offers a challenge. When you start from the bottom, you can continue up the river as long or as short as you feel comfortable with before turning back the way you came. This hike can last whatever amount of time you allow, and hiking through water offers a more fun and more strenuous physical experience than dry ground.
Hiking Zion by way of one of these three trails is virtually guaranteed to please everyone in your group. The little ones can frolic at the bottom of the Narrows, but you may want to leave them at home when choosing Checkerboard or Sand Bench. Stop by the Springdale & Zion Canyon Visitor Center after your hike and let us know what you thought!