Zion's Main Canyon
Best Main Canyon Hikes
-Depending on how long you have, choose one or more of these trails
Weeping Rock is a shaded green oasis where perpetual springs nourish a rich variety of life. An overhanging spring line drips, drops, seeps and weeps a steady supply of water that you must walk underneath of to reach the vista platform at the end of the hike. This ancient water, which took thousands of years to percolate through porous sandstone, is a cool piece of heaven during the hot months of summer. Zion is certainly a place of contrasts and nowhere is it more evident than at this verdant spot in the middle of a harsh desert canyon. This is an easy to moderate hike conveniently located a few steps from the Zion Shuttle stop.
The Riverside Walk is the trail used to access the lower Zion Narrows (see next section) and is an easy paved trail that showcases massively high cliff walls and unique hanging gardens growing along a prominent spring line. This trail is one not to miss if you like to experience nature's grandeur on a spectacular scale. The sandstone walls tall towering thousands of feet overhead are the result of the tireless cutting action of the Virgin River. A great trail for small children, strollers and wheelchairs.
The Zion Narrows from the Riverside Walk
The Zion Narrows are one of the great geological wonders of the world to behold. Here the Virgin River has carved a two thousand foot cleft directly into the relatively soft Navajo Sandstone layer creating what is known as a slot canyon. The Zion Narrows and its tributary drainages contain the deepest slot canyons in the world. The hiker must ford the river in many spots and sometimes walk upstream against the current. Spring through fall is the best time to attempt this hike. The possibility of summer flash floods and the difficulties of wading in water make it important that you are prepared and well informed before you set out. Zion Rock & Mountain Guides has a wide array of equipment you can access for your Narrows adventure including walking sticks, canyon shoes and dry suits & wetsuits. Current river conditions are posted daily at their retail store on Zion Park Blvd. in Springdale, so by all means come on in before you go to check it out.
This may be one of the most exciting five-mile roundtrip hikes you'll ever take in your life. Beginning at the Grotto you'll huff and puff up the steep switchbacks of the historic West Rim Trail which then abruptly enters the cool and mysteriously shaded depths of Refrigerator Canyon. From here you will make the amazing ascent of Walter's Wiggles, a stone and masonry wall with 21 very tight switchbacks which leads out onto Scout's Lookout where you gain your first views of the Virgin River below, some one thousand feet straight down. At this point you leave the West Rim Trail to start the half-mile route to the top of Angel's Landing, 500 feet above. This trail is steep and exposed with cables provided to help make your way along a sharp ridgeline. Scouts Lookout is a great stopping point for those with small children or a fear of heights. The tough should definitely persevere onward and upward reveling in their success at the top. Be sure to get a picture for the water cooler meetings at work.
The Emerald Pools
The Emerald Pools are three separate spring fed pools connected by a stream that is located just across the canyon road from the Zion Lodge. There are trails to all three pool areas and options for doing it as a loop hike back to the Lodge. The lower trail is a moderate hike with little elevation gain and ends up at a beautiful alcove with two small waterfalls emptying into the shaded lower pool. From here it is moderately strenuous to climb up through narrow clefts in the rock to the twin streams above which pond up in shallow depressions and are the middle pools. From here the more strenuous dead-end trail to the upper pool rewards the hiker with a deep blue pool sitting beneath the massive sheer face of Lady Mountain. It is one of Zion's most breathtaking scenes. The Emerald Pools is a great hike for the late afternoon when this side of the canyon is shaded from the relentless desert sun.
This trail is steep but worth every drop of sweat. Using a route originally devised by local Paiute Indians and then later utilized by Mormon pioneers, this hike takes in a variety of terrains and environments. After negotiating the switchbacks up across a naked cliff face you are suddenly plunged into the magnificent quiet of Echo Canyon. This is a classic slot canyon with narrow walls and murky cold water. If you want to take a closer look at the actual slot of the canyon, and don't mind getting wet in frigid water, you can walk up a ways from where the trail crosses the stream bottom. More switchbacks from here lead to the terminus of the trail where panoramic views can be had of Zion Canyon and nearby Angel's Landing which in now below you.
Starting at the Weeping Rock trailhead this relatively short hike leads to a high walled side canyon located almost a thousand feet above the Virgin River floodplain. A half-mile hike up the steep switchbacks of the East Rim Trail leads to the spur junction with the Hidden Canyon Trail. Watch your step as this narrow route winds precariously around a vertical rock face that the trail has been carved into. Use the chains that are provided to make your way to the mouth of Hidden Canyon. From here on the streambed of the canyon floor is the route; the maintained trail ending at this point. There are obstacles and dry falls to be negotiated so be careful when exploring this deep and spectacular hanging valley. You simply turn around when you've had enough. A few hikers, both dead and alive, have been carried out of this canyon. Have fun.