If you’re looking for some of the best trails to go hiking in Zion National Park, this list might give you some ideas to start with.
Zion National Park is a world-class hiking destination every hiker should experience at least once in their lifetime. It is one of America’s most popular national parks with jaw-dropping views and a unique landscape. Very few parks come close to Zion in terms of sheer natural beauty. That’s why hiking here is every adventure traveler’s dream. Soaring red-and-white cliffs, hidden arches, sweeping cliffs, winding narrows, vast expanses of slickrock, and abundance of wildlife make hiking here a fun experience for all.
With so much to offer, it’s no wonder why 4 million visitors come to Zion National Park each year. From easy hikes to strenuous uphill slogs, there’s something for every kind of hiker. But if you’ve never visited Zion National Park and aren’t familiar with any of its hiking trails then choosing the best hike won’t be that easy. So, to help you plan your trip to Zion, we’ve compiled a list of the 7 best hikes in Zion National Park, including easy, moderate, and challenging trails.
Here are our picks for the 7 best hiking trails in Zion National Park.
1. Canyon Overlook Trail
Distance: 1-mile / 1.6 km round trip
Elevation Gain: 150 feet / 45 meters
Estimated Time: 1 hour
The Canyon Overlook Trail is a short hiking route known for its otherworldly views of Zion Canyon. You can reach the trailhead by following Highway 9, to the east entrance of the Mount Carmel Tunnel. This hike follows a beautiful and easy uphill trail, which is perfect for solo hikers, couples and families of all hiking levels.
Once at the top, you’re rewarded with breathtaking views of both the Zion and Pine Creek Canyons. It is a favorite among photographers and casual tourists alike. The hiking route curves around the side of a mountain offering incredible scenery at every point of the way. Start early if you don’t want the trails to be overcrowded. But be cautious of the long drops even though most are guarded with railings.
Need some solo hiking tips? Then do check out this blog post.
2. Emerald Pools
Distance: 2.9 miles / 4.8 km
Elevation Gain: 853 feet / 260 meters
Estimated Time: 2-4 hour
For many hikers, the Emerald Pools is one of the most spectacular hiking trails in Zion National Park. Hikers can expect to see beautiful, towering sandstone cliffs, and scenic passes through the wilderness. But the highlight of this hike is the stunning spring-fed Emerald Pools. Beginning at the Zion Lodge shuttle stop, this 4.8km long hike brings you to some of the best landscapes in the park.
Throughout the hike, you will even get to see some wildlife such as mule deer and bighorn sheep. This hike is fairly moderate, with a very gradual incline that’s suitable for hikers of all levels. In the end, you’ll be dazzled by the amazing views of the surrounding mountains. Spring and fall are ideal times to hike here. We recommend doing this one if you’ve got limited time in the park.
3. Hidden Canyon
Distance: 3.2 miles / 5.2 km
Elevation Gain: 1391 feet / 424 meters
Estimated Time: 2-2.5 hour
Another amazing hike to do in the Zion National Park is the Hidden Canyon trail which is a perfect option for those who aren’t afraid of heights. The main trail is only 5.2 km long and won’t take you more than 2.5 hours to complete the whole hike.
The hike starts at the Weeping Rock Trailhead and involves somewhat strenuous climb on long switchbacks. On the way up, you will get to scale narrow trails which have chains bolted into the cliffside to hang on to. It will be a thrilling experience and the views offered at the end of the hike are amazing. But there are some serious drop-offs making this hike too dangerous for young children.
4. Angels Landing
Distance: 5.4 miles / 8.6 km
Elevation Gain: 1656 feet / 505 meters
Estimated Time: 3 to 5 hours
Looking for some idyllic views of the incredible Zion Canyon? Then consider hiking the famous Angles Landing trail. This is a rewarding 8.6 km hike that is ideal for all types of hikers. The views on this hiking trail are truly something else making it one of the most popular hiking trails in Zion National Park. That’s why this hiking trail stays crowded all throughout the year even during the off-season.
Expect narrow rocky pathways and steep drop-offs while hiking here. Hikers with vertigo will have a hard time getting through the final sections of this trail. You’ll enjoy exploring the Zion National Park if you choose to hike here but don’t expect the trail to be crowd free when you get there.
5. Observation Point
Distance: 8 miles / 12.7 km
Elevation Gain: 2939 feet / 896 meters
Estimated Time: 4-5 hour
The Observation Point is a gem of a hike in Zion National Park. If you aren’t up for the crowded trails of the famous Angels Landing then the Observation Point is a nice alternative. This hike takes you to one of the most picturesque viewpoints in the entire park. It’s hard to find a better place than the Observation Point to enjoy some breathtaking views of the Zion Canyon and Virgin River.
Along the way, you will pass through the famous Echo Canyon and Navajo sandstone with dramatic drop-offs. You’ll also get to see some pretty cool rock formations every now and then. This is a hike that is perfect for all ages and ability levels but you do need to take it slow and hike cautiously.
6. Taylor Creek Trail
Distance: 5.7 miles / 9.3 km
Elevation Gain: 633 feet / 193 meters
Estimated Time: 1.5-2 hour
If you’re looking for a tranquil hike that’s outside of the main tourist drags in the park, head to Taylor Creek Trail. The stunning Taylor Creek Trail is located in the peaceful northwest area of the Zion National Park. It lies hidden away from the famous landmarks and remains crowd-free throughout the year. This lesser-known hike boasts beautiful winding trails with an abundant variety of plant and animal life.
On this hike, you get to explore the amazing Kolob Canyons on a beautiful off-the-beaten-path that is full of cascading waterfalls. There are numerous viewpoints throughout the trail from where you can see the colorful Navajo sandstone. So, if this is your first time in Zion, don’t forget to put the Taylor Creek Trail on your list of things to do.
7. The Narrows
Distance: 4.9 miles / 7.9 km
Elevation Gain: 298 feet / 91 meters
Estimated Time: 9-11 hour
Do you want to go on a hike that will test your limits and provide you with amazing views of the American Southwest? Then consider hiking the Narrows trail. The entire hike is 7.9km long and can be completed in a couple of hours. The trails are very well marked and are perfect for solo hikers. You will be surrounded by sheer rock walls and remote wilderness throughout the hike.
There’s no need for a permit to hike the Narrows if you don’t intend to go beyond the Big Spring. But if you do want to hike further than this point then you will need to get a permit. Keep in mind that the Narrows is closed to hikers during the spring months due to flash floods. And be ready for overcrowded trails if you plan to hike here during the months of summer. Winter is the best time for this hike as the water level remains low and there’s very less crowd on the trail.
It’s worth mentioning that all hikes mentioned above are very well marked and maintained. These hiking trails will lead you right to some of the most popular Zion National Park spots. But keep in mind that more than 80 percent of the park is designated wilderness area. So, make sure you have all you need and know where you’re headed before going on these hikes.
If you plan to go hiking in Europe, do consider reading this blog post: Europe's 5 Best Hiking Trail