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Best Hikes in Zion

 


10 Staggeringly Cool Hikes in
Zion National Park You Can't Miss

 

Explore Zion National Park! It is one of the most spectacular regions in the USA.

Here are 10 staggeringly cool hikes in Zion that you simply can’t miss ranging from easy family-friendly walks to longer and strenuous adventures.

 

Before you get started, make sure to review my post The Essential Guide to Zion National Park. It contains everything you need to know to plan a perfect trip to Zion, including location, how to get there, entrance fees, shuttle schedule, maps, list of fun activities, best time to visit Zion, where to stay, and much more.

 



INTREPID SCOUT’S TIP:

Read – The Essential Guide to Zion National Park

CLICK HERE



 

 

Zion National Park Map

 

Zion Hiking Map

Photo Credit: U.S. National Park Service, restoration/cleanup by Matt Holly

 

You can print the map here.

 

 

10 Best Hikes in Zion National Park 

 

 



INTREPID SCOUT’S TIP:

IMPORTANT – for current condition of trails and trail closures, make sure to check Zion National Park Service. For info click HERE

CLICK HERE



 

  1. Emerald Pools Trail

  2. Pa’rus Trail

  3. Angels Landing

  4. Court of the Patriarchs

  5. The Grotto Trail

  6. Weeping Rock Trail

  7. Riverside Walk

  8. Canyon Overlook Trail

  9. Observation Point Trail

  10. The Zion Narrows

 

 

Number 1

Emerald Pools Trail

 

Emerald Pools Trail is located at number 5 on the map – Zion Lodge.

Needless to say, Emerald Pools Trail is a Zion classic. It is an absolute delight to hike this trail. It intertwines past a small stream that rolls down the cliffs and forms several pools.

I need to mention that Emerald Pools Trail consists of three sections: Lower, Middle and Upper. However, Lower Emerald Pools Trail section is a perfect family-friendly hike in Zion. It is a paved trail with very little elevation change.

 

Emerald Pools Trail

 

Emerald Pools Trail Map 

 

Emerald Pools Trail MapPhoto credit: U.S. National Park Service, restoration/cleanup by Matt Holly

 

Emerald Pools Trail Quick Facts  

  • Distance – 2.2 miles round-trip
    • Lower Pool – .6 miles one-way
    • Middle Pool – 1 mile one-way
    • Upper Pool – 1.1 miles one-way
  • Length of Time – 2-4 hours
    • Lower Pool – 30 minutes
    • Middle Pool – 1 hour
    • Upper Pool – 1.5 hours
  • Elevation Change – 569 ft
    • Lower Pool – 69 ft ascent
    • Middle Pool – 150 ft ascent
    • Upper Pool – 350 ft ascent
  • Difficulty Level – Easy to Moderate
  • Access – Zion Lodge

 

This lovely trail is open year round. However, spring and fall are the most pleasant times of the year to visit.

 

Emerald Pools Trail

 

Consequently, continue along the trail. Make sure to note a small stream that rolls down the cliffs.

 

Emerald Pools Trail

 

Finally, the trail goes along and under an alcove and several waterfalls (depending on the season) that meander down and form beautiful pools below.

You will get to Lower Pool in about 30 minutes.

 

Zion

 

Emerald Pools Trail Waterfall

Emerald Pools Trail Waterfall

 

Once you pass the alcove, the trail goes up at an incline and takes you to the top of the alcove that you have just walked under. It is called Middle Emerald Pools.

There are no pools here, but rather you will find a stream that later on becomes the waterfall.

 

Zion

 

The final stretch leading to the Upper Emerald Pool is the most strenuous, but it is short. So hang in there! In no time, you will be at the Upper Emerald Pool. 

 

Emerald Pools Trail

 

To get back, you can simply retrace your steps. And, as you are leaving, take the last look back. You will be rewarded with the most stunning view!

 

Zion

 

However, if you would like to admire some different scenery on the way back, then you can take Kayenta Trail. Kayenta Trail is slightly longer. It will end at the Grotto Shuttle Bus stop number 6.

 

 

Number 2

Pa’rus Trail

Pa’rus Trail Quick Facts

  • Distance – 3.5 miles round trip.
  • Length of Time – about 2 hours for a leisurely stroll
  • Elevation Change – there is an elevation change of only 50 ft
  • Difficulty Level – Easy
  • Access – shuttle stop # 1 on the map – Visitor Center, specifically, South Campground. The trail ends at Canyon Junction, which is shuttle stop # 3

 

Pa’rus Trail is one of the best family-friendly hikes in Zion! First of all, it is paved, which is ideal for strollers and wheelchairs. In addition, bikes are allowed on this trail as well. Second, it is an easy hike with very little elevation change.

 

Pa'rus Trail

 

Both Oak Creek and Pine Creek cross this relaxing trail as it winds along the Virgin River.

 

Pa'rus Trail

 

Number 2

The trail name, Pa’rus is from a Paiute words which means “bubbling, tumbling water”.

 

I have to confess that the views from the trail are especially captivating at sunset.

If you happen to be on the trail at the sunset time, you will capture great photos of the stunning red-rock,  the Watchman,  which glows with all the colors of sandstone: pinks and reds, orange, yellow, and all shades of white. It is a photographers dream to be able to catch all these colors.

 

The Watchman

 

 

Number 3

Angels Landing Trail 

 

Angels Landing Trail is another classic hike in Zion National Park. Needless to say, it is one of the hikes with the most stunning viewpoints.

 

Angels Landing

 



INTREPID SCOUT’S TIP:

IMPORTANT – Angels Landing Trail is not recommended for people with the fear of heights. There are sections of the trail where you will be walking on a narrow spine of the mountain and using chains to help you up.

READ – What to Expect When Hiking Angels Landing in Zion

CLICK HERE



 

Angels Landing Trail Quick Facts

  • Distance – 2.5 miles one way
    • Grotto Trailhead to Refrigerator Canyon – 1.1 miles
    • Refrigerator Canyon to Scouts Lookout – .85 mile
    • Scouts Lookout to Angels Landing – .55 mile
  • Length of Time – 3-6 hours
  • Elevation Change – 1,490 ft ascend
    • Grotto Trailhead – 4300 ft
    • Refrigerator Canyon – 4900ft
    • Scouts Lookout – 5350 ft
    • Angels Landing – 5790 ft
  • Difficulty Level – Strenuous
  • Access – The Grotto – number 6 on the map

 

Angels Landing Trail starts at the Grotto Trailhead. This is number 6 on the map.

To begin with, cross the hiker’s bridge over the Virgin River and follow the trail. Initially, you are on the West Rim Trail. If you look up, the Angels Landing Peak is right in front of you.

The trail remains at an easy grade as it approaches the lower cliffs blocking the entrance to Refrigerator Canyon.

Next, as you get closer to the lower cliffs the trail begins a series of switchbacks. Although the switchbacks are wiggly, these are not Walter’s Wiggles yet. You will reach them later on. The switchbacks will take you to the top of the ridge above Refrigerator Canyon.

 

Angels Landing

 

Next, the trail gradually climbs up the canyon and pretty soon you will get to the famous 1930’s CCC engineering section called Water’s Wiggles. Each wiggle is a short switchback. There are a total of 21 wiggles!

 

Angels Landing

 

Next, you will get to Scout’s Lookout. Here you can admire the canyon below as well as get a good look at the final section of the trail leading to Angels Landing. Additionally, at Scout’s Lookout you leave West Rim Trail and continue on Angels Landing Trail.

Ahead of you is the most challenging part of the trail. You will be using chains to help you get higher up. There are guard rails as well as some carved steps to steady your climb.

A lot of people stop hiking right at this point. And, it is ok! If you are not up to it, then rest a bit and head back down.

 

Angels Landing

 

However, if you decide to continue, you will be rewarded with an amazing 360-degree view.

 

Angels Landing

 

 

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Best Hikes in Zion

Best Hikes in Zion

 

 

Number 4

Court of the Patriarchs

 

Court of the Patriarchs Quick Facts

  • Distance – .25 miles round trip
  • Length of Time – about 20 min
  • Elevation Change – 50 yard staircase
  • Difficulty Level – Easy
  • Access – shuttle stop # 4 on the map – Court of the Patriarchs

 

Court of the Patriarchs is not a hike, but rather a stop along the Zion Canyon that you simply cannot miss.

Subsequently, take a 50-yard staircase uphill to get to the view. Right in front of you are three peaks. From left to right are: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The view is particularly beautiful in the morning light or at sunset.

 

 

 

Number 5

The Grotto Trail

The Grotto Trail Quick Facts

  • Distance – 1 mile round trip
  • Length of Time – 30 – 40 minutes
  • Elevation Change – 50 ft ascend
  • Difficulty Level – Easy
  • Access – shuttle stop # 5 on the map

 

The Grotto Trail is one of the best hikes in Zion! It is definitely a family-friendly trail.

Notably, to get to the Grotto Trail hop off the shuttle bus at stop # 5, which is Zion Lodge. Next, locate the Grotto Trail trailhead. Needless to say, the signage is excellent and you will have no trouble finding it.

The Grotto Trail is an easy trail with very little elevation change. The views along the trail are spectacular. So, my recommendation is to just take your time and enjoy the scenery.

 

Zion

 

However, you should keep a watchful eye. You might get lucky and spot some wildlife. Here is what I found along the way:

 

Grotto Trail in Zion

 

Moreover, following are some more magnificent views along the way:

 

Zion

 

 

 

Number 6

Weeping Rock Trail

Weeping Rock Trail Quick Facts

  • Distance – .5 miles round trip
  • Length of Time – 30 min
  • Elevation Change – 98 ft ascend
  • Difficulty Level – Easy
  • Access – Weeping Rock – shuttle stop # 7 on the map

 

Weeping Rock Trail is one of my favorites and in my option, it is one of the best family-friendly hikes in Zion.

Notably, it starts off with a path that meanders through a lush landscape dotted with variety of trees. Needless to say, when I went to Zion last time the fall colors where almost overwhelming.

 

Zion

 

First, the trail meanders along the most beautiful “weeping” walls.

 

Weeping Rock Trail

 

Furthermore, you are constantly surrounded by the sound of small rushing streams.

 

Weeping Rock Trail

 

And, make sure to look up and catch the view of the lush hanging gardens.

 

Weeping Rock Trail

Weeping Rock Trail

 

Eventually, the trail will take you into a large bowl-shaped alcove with water flowing over its recess.

 

Weeping Rock Trail

 

However, if you are longing for some solitude here, unfortunately, that is not the best spot. Needless to say, you will have to wait patiently to get an opportunity to capture some views without other people in the picture. It is a popular stop, however, it is totally worth it to brave the crowds.

 

Zion

 

By the way, if you happen to be visiting in the summertime, be on the lookout for the Hanging Columbine. It can be found under the alcove.

Interestingly enough, the Hanging Columbine is endemic to Zion. Actually, there are two species of Columbine in the park – the golden one, which has yellow flowers and the western one, which has red and yellow flowers. They are quite beautiful.

 

Zion

 

I need to add that the trail is short. However, is has a sharp incline. So take your time and take it easy. The good news is that it is a paved trail.

In addition, Weeping Rock Trail has a nice shade and stays cool even during the hottest summer days.

Moreover, the water flowing down from the Weeping Rock provides invigorating refreshment in the dry heat. So, be prepared to get a little bit wet. Likewise, use caution when walking since the path might be a slightly slippery.

If you are visiting the park in the wintertime, please be prepared for the trail closure due to icy conditions.

 

 

Number 7

Riverside Walk

Riverside Walk Quick Facts

  • Distance – 2.2 miles round trip
  • Length of Time – 1.5 hour
  • Elevation Change – 57 ft ascent
  • Difficulty Level – Easy
  • Access – Temple of Sinawava – shuttle stop # 9 on the map

 

In essence, Riverside Walk Trail is an easy, paved trail with little elevation change.

In order to access the trail, take the shuttle bus and hop off at stop # 9. Once you get off, follow the signs leading to the trailhead.

 

Riverside Walk in Zion

 

Next, continue on the trail and follow the Virgin River as it rumbles along the bottom of a narrow canyon.

 

Riverside Walk in Zion

 

Furthermore, look up and catch the view of the “weeping” walls with water dripping over them. In addition, make sure to find some handing gardens.

 

Riverside Walk in Zion

Riverside Walk in Zion

 

So, if you happen to be visiting in the summertime and it is a hot day, make sure to take a break and soak your feet in the water for a bit, there are several places that allow an access to the river.

 

Riverside Walk in Zion

 

By the way, historically, Riverside Walk was called Gateway to the Narrows.

 

Zion

Riverside Walk in Zion

 

To get back, simply retrace your steps. However, have your camera handy. You might be able to catch some awesome views.

Specifically, the views are fantastic when the sun starts setting down. You will be able to catch all the colors of yellows, oranges and reds.

 

Zion

 

 

Number 8

Canyon Overlook Trail

 

Canyon Overlook Trail

  • Distance – 1 mile round trip
  • Length of Time – 1 hour
  • Elevation Change – 163 ft ascent
  • Difficulty Level – Moderate
  • Access – Zion-Mt. Carmel Drive

 

In the first place, Canyon Overlook Trail does not have a paved path, but rather it is a trail that is sandy and rocky and uneven.

 

Canyon Overlook Trail

 

There are some steep inclines in several places. However, I have seen entire families, even with small children, on this trail.

It takes about 30 minutes to get to the most spectacular viewpoint.

 

Zion

 

 

Number 9

Observation Point Trail 

Spoiler Alert: The viewpoint at the end of the trail is an iconic image of Zion National Park. It is absolutely stunning! Hands down – Observation Point Trail is the best hike in Zion National Park!

Moreover, Observation Point stands at 6,507 feet above the sea level, which is over 700 feet higher than the famous Angels Landing.

So, once you get to the top, you will be able to see Angels Landing and give yourself a pat on the back for being adventurous to conquer the higher viewpoint.

 

Observation Point Trail

 



INTREPID SCOUT’S TIP:

Read – Observation Point Trail: Things to Know Before You Go

CLICK HERE



 

Observation Point Quick Facts

 

  • Distance – 8 miles round trip
  • Length of Time – 4-5 hours
  • Elevation Change – 2100 ft ascend
  • Difficulty Level – Strenuous
  • Access – Weeping Rock – number 7 on the map

 

Weeping Rock Trailhead is the starting point for Observation Point Trail.

Notably, almost right from the beginning, you start climbing. It will be a switchback after switchback, however, slowly you will be gaining elevation.

In fact, you will be able to start enjoying the views fairly shortly after you start.

 

Observation Point Trail

 

After 0.7 miles of climbing up the switchbacks, you will reach the junction to the Hidden Canyon Trail.

From here, the trail takes a turn and enters Echo Canyon. You will immediately notice a change of scenery. You are now surrounded by canyon walls. There are more shady areas and the temperature is much lower at this point. Also, the trail flattens a little as well.

By the way, Echo Canyon is quite beautiful. You will definitely take some great photos of the small slot canyons.

 

Observation Point

Observation Point

 

After 2.1 miles, you will pass a junction that connects to the East Rim Trail. Next, continue through a series of steep zigzags. This will be a final ascent through the upper White Cliff formations.

Right after, you are standing on the rim of the sandy upper plateau. The last mile is mostly level as the trail heads northwest.

Next, you will pass the last trail junction, which is East Mesa Trail. Subsequently, the trail heads south and there you are! You made it! The view is magnificent with Angels Landing and the valley far below.

 

Observation Point

 

 

Number 10

The Zion Narrows

 

The Zion Narrows is a legendary hike. For some, it is one of the best hikes in Zion National Park. Notably, you are hiking the Virgin River upstream. In other words, you are hiking the Zion Narrows “Bottom Up”.

 

The Zion Narrows

 

In the summer this hike is especially pleasant in the late afternoon, or an early evening when this part of the canyon is out of direct sunlight.

The starting point for this hike is the last stop on the bus shuttle, number 9, Temple of Sinawava. We start with the Riverside Walk, which takes us to the Zion Narrows.

By the way, I wrote a detailed blog about hiking the Zion Narrows. It has some great pictures that I took along the way. Please refer to it, if you are planning a hike to the Zion Narrows. The blog has everything you need to know to hike the Zion Narrows “Bottom Up”.

 



INTREPID SCOUT’S TIP:

Read – Hiking the Zion Narrows – Everything You Need to Know

CLICK HERE



 

The Zion Narrows Quick Facts

 

  • Distance – 5 miles one-way
    • Temple of Sinawava to Gateway to the Narrows – 1 mile
    • Gateway to the Narrows to Mystery Falls – .5 mile
    • Mystery Falls to Wall Street – 1.25 miles
    • Wall Street to Orderville Canyon – .25 mile
    • Orderville Canyon to Big Springs – 2.5 miles
  • Length of Time  – 3-4 hours
  • Elevation Change – mostly flat
  • Difficulty Level – moderate to strenuous river hiking (It is a gradual ascent up the river. You are hiking in knee deep to waist deep water)
  • Access – Temple of Sinawava – number 9 on the map

The Zion Narrows Practical Information

 

Make sure to read my post: Hiking the Zion Narrows – Everything You Need to Know

  • NO PERMIT is required if you are hiking the Zion Narrows ” Bottom Up”
  • Weather forecasts need to be taken very seriously. Do not hike the Zion Narrows if there is any kind of rain in the forecast. Flash floods can develop within minutes with a strong, rushing water.
  • The Zion Narrows might be closed during the spring months due to snow melt and spring run-off.

 

Zion Narrows

Zion Narrows

 

Three Options of Hiking the Zion Narrows “Bottom Up

 

1. Mystery Falls – Mystery Falls is less than half-a-mile from the Gateway to the Narrows. It is a very beautiful spot where the water falls down the walls. You can stop right at Mystery Falls and retrace your steps.

2. Wall Street –  if you feel like you are able to continue on, then,  it is roughly 1.25 miles from Mystery Falls to Wall Street. Notably, Wall Street starts when the walls narrow and the Virgin River fills the canyon bottom.The scenery is beautiful here.

3. Orderville Canyon – just a few minutes up from the start of Wall Street is the junction with Orderville Canyon coming in on the right. If you have any energy left, or there is enough time then continue on. This section lasts about a mile and is stunning. As the walls begin to open, I would recommend this as the turn around spot.

 

By the way, It will take you 1.5 to 2 hours to reach the junction with Orderville Canyon.

 

 

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Best Hikes in Zion

Best Hikes in Zion

 

 

Now, I want to hear back from you!

Have you ever been to Zion? Which one is your favorite hike?

Are you planning a trip to Zion? Will you hike the Zion Narrows?

Let me know! Leave me a quick comment right below!

Also, make sure to click on some of the images below to get inspired about Zion National Park and get some fresh ideas about more places to visit in Utah.

 

Comments:

26 thoughts on “10 Staggeringly Cool Hikes in Zion National Park You Can’t Miss


2019-11-26

This is such a beautiful place, and even though I am not a hiker, I would love to visit. Maybe I could find a quiet place to have a picnic and enjoy the scenery 🙂

    2019-12-01

    Oh most definitely you could find a nice, secluded place and have a lovely picnic, while you are admiring the views.

2019-11-27

I just love those red rock faces. I used to live in Arizona and we visited Sedona in the fall and the barrage of colour at that time of the year was amazing. A couple of years ago we took the train from NY to LA, and stopped off at the Grand Canyon, and the scenery was mesmerizing, because it gradually changed based on the sun moving across the sky. Up until then I’d thought it would be a place to visit for a short trip to just check it off the list, but it was stunning. And it looks like Zion has the same warm, rich landscape that just embraces you and tugs at your heart strings.

    2019-12-01

    Thank you for your most wonderful comment, Jay! I return often to Zion and to Grand Canyon. So much to explore and the vistas are spectacular.

2019-11-27

Never heard of Zion National Park, but it looks like a great one with so many hiking options. Stunning pictures as well! I especially like the first one with the autumn colours.

    2019-12-01

    Thank you for commenting!

2019-11-27

I have visited Zion multiple times and have done several of these trails. i won’t do Bright Angel as it is too crowded and I think it is dangerous when it gets crowded as people are careless. Feel like Canyon Overlook is getting that way too, my last time doing it there were reckless people and I didn’t like it. BUT many of these other trails are absolutely wonderful and I love Zion!

    2019-12-01

    Hi Andi,
    I totally understand! I do not even go in the summer. The only time that I venture out in these areas are late fall, or early winter.

2019-11-27

Great list of hikes! I cannot wait to go back to Zion soon. My husband and I hiked the Narrows a few years ago. It is still our favorite hike thus far. It was beautiful, unique, and the perfect way to escape the high heat in the park during the hot month of June. We hope to go back with our toddler next year, and we will seek out some other hikes from your list!

    2019-12-01

    The Zion Narrows is an ultimate hike. I am so glad you got to experience it.

2019-11-27

Zion is stunning! I went once but had only a morning to hike. I would love to go back. I was worried about the Narrows (flooding), so I’m especially interested to learn more about that. Great photos!

    2019-12-01

    Thank you, Sharon. You should plan another visit to Zion.

2019-11-28

The photos! I could imagine myself right there. Thanks for the detailed information. It’ll be helpful when we plan our trip there. We’ll be able to choose suitable trails.

    2019-12-01

    I am glad you found it useful!

2019-11-28

This is a really fantastic & comprehensive guide. Photos are amazing. I have not been to Zion but it is on my list to explore. I will definitely be checking your guide beforehand!

    2019-12-01

    Thank you, Sue! Most definitely, check out Zion. You will love it.

2019-11-28

I will have to get myself across to Zion, the trails and hikes look amazing.

    2019-12-01

    I am highly recommending. It is one of the most scenic places in the US.

Empty Nesters Hit The Road
2019-11-28

As an avid hiker I found this article so helpful. I just love all the detail you’ve provided. My husband and I are hoping to visit Zion in 2020, so I’ve pinned this post so I can refer back to it later.

    2019-11-28

    Zion is a great destination. The hikes are awesome and varied, so there is something for everyone.

2019-11-29

What a great guide. I’m planning to visit Zion National Park next year, só keeping this post. Think I’ll skip the Angels Landing Trail, sounds a bit too scary for me 🙂

    2019-11-29

    Yup! Angels Landing is pretty challenging.

2019-11-29

We really need to get back and spend a week here just hiking all these trails. We only had time for a short visit on our first trip and definitely want to get back.

    2019-12-01

    I go back all the time. Different seasons give Zion completely different look.

Love this post! We visited Zion last year with out 2 year old and we did all of these hikes except Angels Landing. I love your quick tips on each hike and also your maps. And your pictures of the Narrows are STUNNING. We didn’t get that far up the river (2 year old on the back), but we’ll definitely be back. I also love your photos at the bottom of Bryce Canyon- very pretty.

    2019-12-01

    Thank you so much!

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