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Zion National Park is a Hiking Paradise: How to Plan Hiking

Zion National Park, a haven for nature enthusiasts and hikers, offers an array of mesmerizing hiking trails with unique experiences and views.

I have visited Zion two times, and still, there is a lot to hike. From the thrilling heights of Angel’s Landing to the serene allure of The Narrows, the park is a collection of scenic wonders and challenging adventures.

In this post, I will try to shortlist some of the most popular hiking trails with minimal description so that you can plan accordingly during your next visit.

Canyon Overlook Trail

This moderately easy 1-mile round-trip hike leads to a spectacular viewpoint over Zion Canyon. The trail typically takes around 1 hour to complete.

It is located on the east side of the Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel and is accessible via the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. If you enter the national park via the east entrance, you will find the trailhead right before entering the tunnel. Parking is quite limited, and most people park on the roadside.

West Rim Trail

The trail begins at The Grotto Trailhead, accessible via the Zion Shuttle. The trailhead tends to get crowded, so an early start is recommended.

The Grotto Trailhead is in Zion Canyon, near the Angels Landing trailhead.

This challenging 16-mile hike (one way) offers diverse scenery, from forests to exposed cliffs. It typically takes 6-8 hours.

For a shorter hike, visitors can take the shuttle to the Lava Point Overlook and begin the trail there, covering around 14 miles instead. I haven’t done the whole route yet. However, I plan to do it on my next visit to Zion.

Angel’s Landing

It is accessed via the Grotto Trailhead, similar to the West Rim Trail. The trailhead is the same as the West Rim Trail, but Angel’s Landing is a separate hike. 

Also, you need a permit. There are two checkpoints: the first one is right after starting your journey when you cross the Virgin River from the Grotto shuttle stop. The next checkpoint is the Scout Lookout viewpoint, where the West Rim trail takes the opposite direction.

This strenuous 5-mile round-trip trail involves steep switchbacks, chains, and narrow ridges. It typically takes 4-5 hours and provides awe-inspiring views of Zion Canyon and Virgin River.

The last section of the trail involves a steep ascent with chains; it’s not recommended for those with a fear of heights. I also couldn’t finish as there were chainless sections with very narrow passages and thousand-foot drops. Also, I did not have a proper hiking shoe. Maybe next time!

The Narrows

The Narrows begins at the Temple of Sinawava shuttle stop. Equipment rentals are available at nearby outfitters. It can also be done without equipment; however, a hiking pole is definitely recommended, especially for beginners.

The trail begins at the end of the Riverside Walk, where the paved path ends. Hiking the Narrows involves walking upstream through the Virgin River. The route can vary in length, and the duration depends on how far you choose to go. It can range from a couple of hours to a full-day hike.

Observation Point:

Begins at the Weeping Rock Trailhead, accessible via the Zion Shuttle. It’s advisable to start early to secure parking.

The trailhead is near Weeping Rock, a popular stop in Zion Canyon. This challenging 8-mile round-trip hike offers panoramic views of Zion Canyon. It typically takes 4-6 hours and ascends 2,148 feet to reach the breathtaking Observation Point.

For a different vantage point, visitors can also reach Observation Point via the East Mesa Trail, which offers an alternative and less crowded route. However, I heard that this route may need 4-wheelers if you want to lessen the hike distance.

Final Comments

Zion National Park is really a paradise for hikers, offering all sorts of hiking trails for the best experiences. Anyone of any age can hike some of these trails.

All the trails I mentioned expose the park’s diverse terrain and breathtaking beauty differently. Each hike presents an opportunity to connect with nature in its purest form.

The other trails that I have not mentioned are good, too. This is just a shortlist if you have limited time and need to shortlist the choices.

Let me know which one you liked most and why! See ya!

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