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One of Utah’s most well-known outdoor parks is Zion National Park. At the edge of the Colorado Plateau, the spectacular Virgin River flows through a valley covered in forest and stands sentinel over the sheer red rocks.
Southwest Utah’s geology is fascinating. Lime green, soft pink, deep orange and red are some of the many colors that the rock layers produce.
One of the most popular parks in the country is Zion National Park, and many people come here just for the fantastic hiking, as there are various hikes in the park.
However, many of the routes in this park don’t require you to be an expert hiker to enjoy them. There are pathways for hikes of every length, from less than a half-mile to multi-day excursions.
Lower Emerald Pools and Riverside Walk are your best bets if you have time for a few quick treks or walks.
However, The Narrows or Angels Landing is what you’re looking for in a day trek if you want to experience some of Zion’s iconic, classic hikes.
You won’t be disappointed whether you choose a trek that follows the valley bottom with cliff walls rising above you or a trail that follows one of the high ridges in Zion because it is an amazing park with breathtaking views at every turn.
The Zion Canyon Scenic Drive is off-limits to private automobiles from spring through fall, and the park provides a free shuttle service for guests.
The shuttle bus makes stops at all of the major trailheads in this area of the park, making it highly convenient for walks that start and conclude at different locations.
Continue reading to find the best hikes in Zion National Park.
1. Best Hikes in Zion
One of the parks in the nation with the highest number of tourists is Zion National Park. Although hiking is undoubtedly a well-liked pastime, Zion National Park offers various other activities.
Deer, bighorn sheep, and other animals wander the area, surrounded by undulating mountains and abundant wildlife.
Many tourists come here to admire the area’s beauty. Everyone can find something to do in Zion National Park, from horseback riding and mountain biking to camping and exploring the neighboring slot canyons.
1.1. Canyon Overlook Trail
You have a few distinct alternatives from this group of paths, all offering breathtaking views of waterfalls, pools, and other vegetation types.
While the Upper Pool has a separate beginning location, the Lower, Middle, and Middles Pools may all be accessed from the same trailhead.
You can also pass by a waterfall while on this Canyon overlook trail. Unquestionably, this trial is among the top hikes in Zion!
For those who want canyon views but aren’t prepared to tackle the well-known and more difficult Angel’s Landing walk, the Canyon Overlook trail is the perfect sunset hike.
1.2. Riverside Walk Trail
The Narrows of the Virgin can be reached without getting your feet wet by taking the Riverside Walk.
The shuttle stops (Temple of Sinawava), which is situated at the terminus of the scenic highway, is where this short hike starts. From there, proceed over a concrete walkway alongside the Virgin River and a sheer canyon wall.
Even for visitors with only a few hours to spend in Zion, this two-mile round-trip climb is a must-do whether it is done in preparation for the Narrows or on its own.
The temperatures decrease, the plant life changes, and you enter another planet as the trail leads you deeper into Zion Canyon’s constricted walls.
1.3. Pa’Rus Trail
Pa’Rus Trail is the only pathway in the park where you can walk your canine companion if they are with you.
The hike offers awe-inspiring vistas of the high cliffs known as The Watchman, Bridge Mountain, West Temple, and Beehive, which primarily follow the river.
It is worth looking at this lovely scene of river rocks and the bubbling river heading up to the rocky hills. In reality, the Paiute name for bubbling water is “Pa’Rus.”
1.4. Emerald Pools Trail
Lower Emerald Pools, Middle Emerald Pools, and Upper Emerald Pools are the three sets of pools that can be seen along the Emerald Pools trek, which starts at the Zion Lodge shuttle stop.
Depending on how athletic you feel or how much time you have here, you can hike to all three or just the first group.
Emerald Pools trail is fantastic if you want to get to the Lower Emerald Pool trail because it is only 0.6 miles roundtrip along a paved route.
The pools, which frequently resemble mud puddles more than pools, lie at the base of a weeping wall or a cascade that is in full power, depending on the time of year.
There are lovely views down the valley and across the Virgin River along the route up to this location. A significant part of the granite wall that formerly fell from the cliff is visible.
The walk continues past the waterfall area and rises to the Middle Emerald Pools if you decide to continue.
Along with the pools, there are stunning views of the mountains around. From here, you can choose to go back to the parking lot.
1.5. Angels Landing Trail
Angels Landing is one of Zion National Park’s most well-known hikes. With this amazing journey, you may ascend to a magnificent vantage point with canyon views.
This strenuous journey begins with a climb up a mountainside known as Walter’s Wiggles, then traverses a narrow ridge before coming to an abrupt end at a 1,500-foot plunge where you can gaze down into the valley below.
Although this hike is well-known, not everyone should take it. The 5.4-mile round-trip trail is challenging, with significant elevation increases and sharp ridges with steep drops. Young children and hikers with a phobia of heights shouldn’t attempt it.
Some of the trail’s handholds are chains. It takes approximately three and six hours to finish this climb, which starts near the Grotto.
Despite being accessible all year round, the trail can get quite hot and overcrowded in the summer or very snowy in the winter. This is one of the strenuous hikes in Zion National Park.
1.6. Weeping Rock Trail
Weeping Rock is a sizable alcove carved into a cliff wall with a continual supply of water trickling or streaming from the rock and is accessible through a short, half-mile roundtrip route.
This trail can become a waterfall in the spring, particularly on rainy days. Hanging gardens and a view of the valley and neighboring mountains may be found along the wall.
If you hike underneath the overhang, be prepared to get at least a bit wet. This short trip has several stairs and a few moderately steep portions.
1.7. Taylor Creek Trail (Kolob Canyon)
Although Zion Canyon is home to several of the most well-known hikes, the Kolob Canyon region is sometimes overlooked.
This part of the park is uncrowded, equally beautiful, and a perfect place to enjoy some of Utah’s best.
The Taylor Creek Trail features two historic homes from the beginning of the twentieth century, with tiny waterfalls, a river, and a little history.
There are several stream crossings throughout the five-mile return trail, which follows a creek up a canyon.
The stunning Double Arch Alcove is most hikers’ ultimate destination. At this point, you can turn around and go back or continue as long as you desire.
1.8. Hidden Canyon Trail
This is the best option if you don’t mind heights and merely want to trek for a few hours. The trail ascends from the Weeping Rock trail and terminates at a hanging canyon after looping up several switchbacks.
Several of the trail’s tight parts feature dangerous drop-offs; some have chains anchored into the cliff wall to hang on to, but others do not.
1.9. The Narrows
Everyone should take the Narrows hike at least once in their lifetime since it is an unforgettable experience to hike through a river and up a slot canyon.
The Narrows start as you descend a few stairs and directly enter the Virgin River at the end of the paved Riverside Walk. The Big Spring is five miles one way and the farthest point you can hike in a day.
However, how far you travel is entirely up to you. At first, the river is extremely attractive, but after a few miles, the canyon walls start to narrow, and the climb becomes stunning.
The Narrows hike is slow since walking in the river is not as simple as it might sound because, depending on the season, the water levels can be fairly high and the current strong.
Add to that the slippery rocks. However, it is wholly worthwhile, and we strongly advise traveling at least as far as Wall Street, a few kilometers in, for the greatest views. Orderville Canyon is a short trip from Wall Street that is very worthwhile.
1.10. Sand Bench Trail
The Court of the Patriarchs shuttle stop is the starting point for the shortest version of the moderately popular Sand Bench Trail.
If you want to hike this trail for a total of 7.6 miles roundtrip, you can start at Zion Lodge, bridge the Virgin River as if hiking Emerald Pools, and then turn left to hike alongside the river.
You must share the route during the busiest months of the year because Sand Bench is a recreational horse trail from March to October. Up to the fork, the trail is straight. You’ll take the loop at the fork to return to the straight path.
You can climb the remains of a sizable landslide and take in upstream and downstream canyon vistas. In this location, wildlife is commonly seen.
This trail’s name is its worst drawback. You know how challenging hiking in deep sand can be, and Sand Bench is particularly sandy!
Despite being well-liked, we advise against doing this hike until you’ve completed all the other trails on your Zion wishlist.
1.11. Timber Creek Overlook Trail (Kolob Canyon)
Let’s head to Kolob Canyons, a much more tranquil area of Zion National Park, and hike the Timber Creek Overlook Trail there.
The family will love this short, simple climb with beautiful vistas. For very little effort, you can enjoy expansive 270-degree vistas of the Kolob Canyons and Kolob Terrace.
This journey ends with a spectacular view of sweeping forested hills at the foot of enormous orange sandstone mountains.
The easiest of the four walks in Kolob Canyons is here if you’re searching for a way to get away from the main canyon.
1.12. Scout Lookout Trail
The staging area for ascending the steep chain stretch to Angels Landing (which we cover in tough hikes) is Scout Lookout, although getting there presents more of a challenge than most hikers are aware of.
You will arrive at a cold undercutting route cut into the side of a wall after ascending a series of relatively steep switchbacks and passing through the refrigerator canyon. Opening-up views are looking back across the valley level.
The path abruptly makes a left turn and squeezes between two walls. This leads to Walter’s Wiggles, a lengthy stretch of steep switchbacks only a few feet long.
You will reach the summit of the wiggles and emerge onto a somewhat level, slender expanse of sand. Since this is Scout Lookout, there will probably be a ton of hikers here.
Even without ascending to the chain part, Scout Lookout is a fantastic climb. The steep climb is a wonderful workout, and the views from the summit are magnificent.
1.13. Zion Canyon Overlook (East Entrance)
The greatest simple and short trek in the entire national park, the Zion Canyon Overlook Trail is a must-do hike in Zion.
It would be best if you planned to hike to Zion Canyon Overlook while you are in the park. The Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel’s entrance can be seen distinctively from the top of a steep, winding staircase before views of Pine Creek Gorge Slot Canyon below and to the left become obvious.
The trail passes through a crescent-shaped concave structure and across a small bridge.
Before you arrive at the summit, the breathtaking Pine Creek vista, and the winding road that descends into the lower canyon, a fun improvised portion comes next.
There is relatively little parking available for this highly popular walk. Try to hike Zion Canyon Overlook in the early morning or the late afternoon to enjoy the sunrise or sunset.
One of the best ways to observe Canyon Overlook is via hiking into or out of Zion Canyon’s main area.
1.14. The Watchman Trail
The Watchman Trail is a very well-liked hike in Zion that starts in Springdale at the park’s main tourist center.
Pa’rus Trail and Watchman share a trailhead, combining two incredibly beautiful but quite different hikes into one. Knowing this is crucial at the busiest times of the year when finding parking may be a real hassle.
Trek the two trails before continuing! Watchman ascends behind the main campground and visitor center in Zion until it approaches a tiny summit loop with breathtaking views of the park’s southern region and Springdale community.
Despite being accessible from town at any time of day, sunrise and sunset are the best times to hike to Watchman Overlook.
From Watchman Overlook, where we witnessed the sun rise over Zion, we heartily suggest it to anyone staying in Springdale.
1.15. Kayenta Trail
The Emerald Pools hike, which starts at The Grotto and ends at the shuttle bus stops for Zion Lodge, frequently includes the Kayenta Trail because it links to it.
The route to the Upper Emerald Pools is a two-mile out-and-back if you simply wish to take the Kayenta Trail. Before climbing to the pools, the trek mostly follows the canyon wall. It also includes some exposed areas with substantial drop-offs.
1.16. Many Pools Trail (East Entrance)
When the route curves north, park your car and walk along the side of the road for a short distance before crossing.
Few people realize that so many Pools are a hike in Zion, let alone that it even exists! A tiny roadside parking area is between the culvert and the east entrance.
Despite being unmaintained, the Many Pools route is manageable. Numerous little eroding pools created over time by wind and water make it the ideal family excursion.
If the timing is right, tiny waterfalls may fill these smooth, circular pools during the region’s snowmelt or after a rainfall. Don’t forget your camera because bighorn sheep frequently pass through this open, exposed trail.
When the main canyon becomes too crowded during high season, Many Pools are nearly certain to remain peaceful, making it the perfect getaway. This hike is one of the most famous hikes in Zion National Park.
1.17. East Mesa Trail To Observation Point (East Entrance)
Even more spectacular than Angels Landing and Zion Canyon Overlook, Observation Point is renowned for having the best view of Zion National Park.
The conventional approach to Observation Point, which is permanently closed owing to the same landslide that caused the closure of Weeping Rock, will be covered later on in difficult trails.
When writing in March 2022, trekking East Mesa Trail is the only way to get to Observation Point and its breathtaking perspective of Zion.
Since Observation Point is Zion’s highest elevation summit viewpoint, both dawn and sunset can be enjoyed from this dominating vantage point.
Before reaching East Rim Trail, the trail is mostly through ponderosa and juniper woodland. To get to Observation Point from the crossroads, you must follow a brief side route.
From Observation Point, you cannot enter Zion Canyon. You have to take North Fork Road back to the trailhead.
1.18. The Grotto (Main Canyon)
The Grotto is yet another of many interconnected trails in Zion National Park.
This trail leads to Grotto Picnic Area, the starting point for several climbs, including Emerald Pools and Angels Landing, which are accessible to guests of Zion Lodge.
Although the trek goes parallel to the road and offers nothing in the way of scenery, it is the ideal loop connector for the Emerald Pools Trail.
The Grotto, though, is excellent for clearing your head if you only want a quick and easy walk to stretch your legs after breakfast. The distance from Zion Lodge to The Grotto Picnic Area is only half a mile and almost entirely level.
1.19. La Verkin Creek Trail
Significantly, though we’ve highlighted how much quieter hiking in Kolob Canyons is, hiking La Verkin Creek means your chances of running into other hikers are even lower.
Most tourists visiting Kolob Canyons head to Timber Creek Overlook and perhaps stroll along Taylor Creek Middle Fork.
Thus, you can wander in Zion’s wilderness while enjoying its breathtaking views. After passing Timber Creek, you will gradually drop into La Verkin Creek.
You will finally arrive at Kolob Arch if you turn to the east and continue upstream. Among the largest natural arches in the world, Kolob Arch serves as the perfect capstone to a spectacular day trek in Zion. Between Spring and Fall, when Zion Lodge is completely occupied, this is usually a crowded path.
1.20. The Subway Bottom Up (Kolob Terrace)
The Subway is a wilderness walk in Zion that requires a permit and may be done either top-down or bottom-up.
The top-down variation is an experience in providing a route with a few rappelling portions, but the bottom-up variant is the most well-liked and easiest to hike for most people.
Here, we’re referring to the hike from the bottom up. Take Kolob Terrace Road to the Left Fork Trailhead from Virgin by car.
You will travel upstream after a hard descent to the Left Fork of North Creek. You must blaze your trail through the forest, over boulders, through streams, and up steep banks to reach the Subway while hiking.
2. Tips for Hiking in Zion National Park
Here are our top recommendations to help you organize your trip to Zion, a spectacular area for hiking:
- Don’t forget to get the necessary trekking permits months in advance.
- The busiest months are May until September.
- In the winter, Zion is significantly more peaceful and less expensive.
- To prevent daily travels into and out of the park, try to remain in Springdale.
- Watch out for springtime flash floods; the Narrows will be closed if they become hazardous.
- Kolob Canyons is a fantastic alternative if the main canyon is too crowded.
- On exposed paths, hiking in the summer might result in hazardous situations.
- Water and electrolyte replacements should always be included in your fluid intake.
3. Final Words
Zion National Park has something for everyone, from the breathtaking walk-up Angels Landing to the kid-friendly Riverside Walk to multi-day backpacking excursions.
There is something here for everyone, from the breathtaking walk-up Angels Landing to the kid-friendly Riverside Walk to multi-day backpacking excursions.
The longer and simpler walks in Zion National Park are just as beautiful as the more challenging ones, including Angels Landing and The Narrows, which are among the park’s most well-known walks.
Many of the most exciting walks in the United States are found in this tiny park.
Last Updated on March 1, 2024 by Sathi Chakraborty