17 Best Hikes in Zion National Park
Hiking in Zion National Park is one of the best ways to explore the park but it can be hard to decide which hikes at Zion National Park are the best.
I’ve put together this list of the best hikes in Zion along with their difficulty rating and distance so you can decide which are the top hikes in Zion for you!
Ah, Zion National Park! The most beautiful (and popular) of the national parks in Utah. With so much to do and see in Zion it can be hard to decide which Zion Hikes you want to do.
To visit any of the National Parks in the USA, I recommend buying a National Park Pass. The America the Beautiful Pass is valid for one year and costs $80. Plus 10% of sale proceeds go to the National Park Foundation.
Tips for Visiting in Saguaro National Park
Saguaro is perfect for outdoor enthusiasts. There is a hike for everyone on this list and for different fitness levels. Also, note that it is dry and hot (in the summer), and make sure you know what you are getting into before you start. Here are a few tips for visiting Saguaro:
- Bring a reusable water bottle and lots of water! Remember you are in the sun and you will need to drink lots of water. I love my LifeStraw Filtered Water Bottle. I can refill this bottle anywhere and it comes with a carabiner to connect it to my daypack.
- Check the Weather – days over 100 degrees are very common. On top of that there is quite a bit of air pollution in Phoenix which can make it suffocating. Make sure to check.
- Hiking boots or sandals that will protect your feet! I love good shoes. I need all the support and help I can get. I actually love these sandals for hiking and have a whole post on Merrell vs Keen shoes for hiking. I also love these hiking boots which I used for Hiking in the Grand Canyon.
- Bring hiking poles for balance and to protect your knees. I know many experienced hikers (and even amateur ones) think that hiking poles are for old people who lose their balance. Actually, hiking poles can help when going down steep inclines or when scrambling over rocks. They are great to hike with even for the most experienced hiker.
- Wear a sunhat. I feel like this whole post is about how high you are in the mountains and how much closer you are to the sun but it is so true. At elevation, you are closer to the sun and more likely to burn. Wear sun protection such as a sun hat and sunscreen.
- Be aware of the wildlife. This is the Southwest and you will need to watch out for snakes and other wildlife such as moose or a bear. Please stay away from wildlife and do not feed them. I recommend carrying bear spray as well.
- Start Early – If you want to avoid the traffic and the heat you will need to start your hike early. That way it will be nice and cool and the smog will not affect you either.
- Leave no trace. If you are new to the concept of Leave No Trace it is all about preserving the environment to ensure it is in the same or better condition when you leave it. This means that you should stick to the trails and carry out everything that you carried in. This is a great explanation of the Leave No Trace principles!
- Water shoes are great for water hikes– If you don’t have a pair, I highly suggest it as they are affordable. I have an article on the pros and cons of several pairs of water shoes.
- Bring Bug Spray and a snack: Be sure to bring everything you need including a snack like a protein bar plus BUG SPRAY.
17 Best Zion National Park Hikes – Hiking in Zion National Park
Canyon Overlook Trail
Distance: 1-mile round trip
Difficulty: easy to moderate
The Canyon Overlook trail starts with some steep elevation but once past the initial steps, this trail is relatively flat for the remainder of the hike.
The trail is moderately easy however at some points it can be narrow and have little to no barrier between the path and the nearby drop. This makes the trail unfit for families with children and people who may be uncomfortable with these conditions.
This trail in Zion National Park itself is just as much part of the attraction as the final view point destination. On one side of the trail is the cliff walls of a mountain, and on the other side is a large drop (mostly guarded by railings and barriers) that overlook the beauty of the park.
This hike is not accessible through the shuttles provided by the park, so having your own car or mode of transportation is necessary if you wish to complete this hike.
Emerald Pools Trail
Distance: 3-miles round trip
Difficulty: easy to hard (dependent on which ‘pool’ you want to get to)
The Emerald Pools Trail is a popular Zion National Park hike, due to the amazing views that the hike provides. This hike has three major viewpoints and stops along it: the lower emerald pools, the middle emerald pools, and the upper emerald pools.
The hike initially starts off being easy but gets more difficult the further you go. It is a .6-mile round trip to the lower emerald pools which is a perfect hiking trip for those wanting to experience the beauty of the emerald pools without straining themselves too much. The emerald pools are at the bottom of beautiful waterfalls which vary in heaviness depending on what time of year you visit.
This trail is an easy, beautiful and must-do on any trip to Zion National Park. The hike trail is easily accessible to the public, being at the beginning of the shuttle bus route.
Distance: 2.2-mile roundtrip
The Riverside walk is an easy hike in Zion, as suggested in the name, the trail follows along the Virgin river and provides beautiful views of the river and the cliff walls that also run along the river.
This is a paved trail, so perfect and easily accessible for those with strollers, wheelchairs or those wanting a simple flat easy walk. There are many species of wildlife that are often seen along this trail which further heightens the experience of the trail.
Almost the entirety of this trail is flat which makes it easy and doable for almost anyone visiting the park. This walking trail is also easily accessible to the public as it is along the route of the park shuttle bus.
Distance: 3-mile round trip
Hidden Canyon, like the name may suggest, is a hidden beauty in Zion. It happens to be one of the lesser known hikes and lesser visited hikes in the park. This makes the experience more tranquil as there will be much fewer other visitors along the trail.
Much of the trail is along the mountains, in which you cling to the cliff sides with beautiful nature and canyon scenery surrounding you. This trail is not for everyone however, similar to Canyon Overlook; there are some steep drop offs and sections that are very narrow with little to no barrier.
This trail is not appropriate for anyone with fears of heights, families with children or people who are spooked easily by steep and narrow cliff sides. The start of the hike is easily accessible as it is along the shuttle bus route.
Distance: 3-mile roundtrip
Difficulty: easy to moderate
The Watchman Trail is one of the most overlooked trails by many Zion visitors. It’s a trail that many people pass by without a second glance, not knowing the beauty that the trail has to offer.
The close proximity of the trail to the entrance of the park also makes it a nice easy starter hike for any new visitors to the National Park. The Watchman Trail has a low elevation and this trail provides it visitors with gorgeous views of the valley beneath and the desert and green sceneries from all angles.
Because many visitors overlook this trail, it offers a great experience for those wanting to avoid the crowds. The trail is also close to the entrance of the park and is also conveniently located along the shuttle bus route.
Distance: .5-mile round trip
Weeping Rock is one of the shortest as well as easiest hiking trails in the park.
Weeping Rock also gets very crowded because it is a short and easy hike.
The trail leads visitors to the Weeping Rock, a large alcove carved into the cliff walls. During the spring and winter months, this alcove can sometimes turn into a waterfall, so prepare to get a little wet if you hike this trail during that time of year.
Once at the weeping rock, there are some beautiful views of hanging gardens and sweeping mountains. Although this hike is considered easy, there are a few moderate sections such as short steep hills and stairs. The trail is located along the shuttle bus route, so easy to access.
Angels Landing – the best hike in Zion
Distance: 5.4-mile round trip
Angels Landing is arguably Zion National Park’s most famous hiking trail. Angels Landing may be popular, but it is a difficult hike.
If you do decide to attempt Angels Landing, it is well worth it. Once at the summit, you are rewarded with one of a kind 360-degree views of the canyons below. Getting to this point is no walk in the park, however. This hike takes visitors up the side of a mountain that has some serious elevations and narrow walkways involved.
Angels Landing is one of the stops along the park’s shuttle bus route, so it is easy to get to if you want to take on the challenge.
Distance: 8-mile round trip
This is one of the more challenging hikes in the park, although with challenge also comes big rewards.
Once at the summit, hikers will enjoy gorgeous views over the park, including views over Angels Landing! This hike consists of 2,300 ft of consistent uphill climb, making this trail more difficult than others.
Due to the difficulty of this hike, there are rarely any crowds so hikers can enjoy the serenity during this strenuous hike through beautiful canyon scenery on the way to the top.
The trail is located along the shuttle bus route, so it is easy to get to you if you are up to the big challenge.
Distance: 14-mile round trip
Difficulty: moderate to hard
Like the name suggest, the trail is named after the arch located atop the exposed cliff along the trail. This arch is one of the largest freestanding natural arch in the world and is a beautiful sight. The arch itself was created through natural conditions and erosions over time.
This trail is one of the lesser known in the park and therefore lesser visited. Those wanting to attempt this hike can enjoy the peace and serenity of small to no crowds and either attempt this hike in one day to take your time backpacking over the course of several days.
The difficulty depends on the time taken, if attempted in one day it is a hard-strenuous hike; if attempted over more than one day it is typically a moderate trail. (however, permits are needed for overnight camping). This trail is not located along the parks shuttle bus route, leading it to be a bit more difficult to access, but still well worth it.
The Subway is a unique trail in Zion National Park. the trail involves hikers to hike down the trail that at some points requires you to get in the water and swim.
This difficult trail involves people having to complete unique tasks on a hike, such as climbing down waterfalls, climbing over boulders and many other strenuous tasks, not fit for the weak. Due to the uniqueness of this trail, it is commonly completed from the top to the bottom and you will need a permit in order to attempt and complete this hike.
Although it is difficult if you manage to do it, it is worth it. the trail has beautiful views all through out and it is such a unique experience, you will never forget. The trail is located along the parks shuttle bus route, so is easy to get to if you choose to take up the challenge.
The Zion Narrows is a slot canyon in Zion National Park. Different to many other slot canyons, the narrows are a common hiking trail on many hiker’s bucket lists and are often seen as the perfect slot canyon.
Despite its challenges, the canyon provides beautiful breath-taking views and is a memorable experience for anyone who attempts it.
You can complete the trail in various ways. Firstly, you can start from the bottom and hike as far as you can up before turning around and heading back down. This is a relatively moderate hike and can be easily completed in one day.
The alternative is to complete the entire route, in which case you start from the top and work your way down. This is a more difficult hike and can either be done in one day or as a back-packing trip over the course of 2 or more days.
Whichever way you choose to complete it, it will be a great adventure filled with beautiful scenery all around. A permit is required to hike the entire trail (top to down) which makes the alternative route (starting at the bottom and turning around) the more popular trail.
Distance: 20-miles one-way trip
The Barracks is a canyon hike located along the Virgin River and situated just outside of Zion National Park.
There are some sections along the bottom of the trail that are similar to the Narrows and at times compete with the Narrows for beauty.
However, the Barracks never has the crowds that the Narrows have, so is a great alternative if you want some serenity.
Due to the length of the entire trail and the difficulties it includes, it is recommended to complete the trail over the course of 2-3 days. By doing this, it gives you a chance to enjoy the trail and experience the full beauty it has to offer.
Although, it is common to only visit the lower canyons and hike just a few miles up before turning around and heading back. In this case, it can easily be completed in one day and is considered relatively easy to moderate.
Sand Bench Trail
Distance: 3-miles round trip
This unique trail stands out from others in the park due to the fact that it is often completed via horseback. It is possible and common to complete this hiking trail through foot, however if you wish to horseback, through Zion National Park, this is the trail to do.
The trail is a loop trail that is relatively flat and only involves a small level of elevation. Because of this, and the short distance it is a popular trail in the park.
This trail provides many gorgeous views of the park, including views of the Virgin River, the Patriarch stone peaks, Bridge Mountain, as well as many other canyons, cliffs and views through the park.
The trail is located along the park’s shuttle bus route.
La Verkin Creek Trail
Distance: 14-miles round trip
This creek trail is the longest and arguably the most beautiful hiking trail in the Kolob Canyon section of Zion National Park.
This trail runs parallel to the Kolob Arch trail, as the La Verkin Creek trail also reaches the Kolob Arch, one of the largest natural arches in the world.
It is a moderate hike and can be completed in one day, however there are around 13 campsites located along the trail available for overnight stays if you wish to complete the trail in more than one day. Permits are required for the campgrounds.
The more common route is from the bottom up 7 miles to the Kolob Arch and back again. However, if you wish you can continue a further 4-miles up to some more viewpoints and stops, making the trail a full 22-mile round trip.
Whichever way you decide, will be great as each route is filled with beautiful nature stops and scenery.
The Trans-Zion Trek
This trail is not necessarily one consistent trail, rather it is a combination of many of the parks’ trails, combined into one cross-park trail.
This hiking trail takes you through Zion’s backcountry, where you travel from one end to another. Due to the longevity of the hike, it is recommended you reserve anywhere from 3-6 days to complete the entirety of this hike.
There are many flat areas of the hike, there are also many steep elevations involved. This is a beautiful hike that includes some of the more beautiful sceneries on offer in the park through the many hiking trails included in the hike. Permits are required for this hike, due to the need to camp over several nights.
This hike has also grown in popularity over the years so expect to see a few other eager hikers out on this beautiful longevity hike.
West Rim Trail
This trail begins in the Kolob Canyon, at Lava Point Trailhead and takes you through 17-miles of beautiful wilderness to West Rim Trailhead.
The trail can be completed on just once day or over 2 days with permits required for an overnight camp stay. The trail takes you through many other viewpoints along the way which provide outstanding views over the canyons and park below.
It’s a difficult trek but well worth the effort once faced with the stunning 360-degree views of the park and natural scenery around every turn. This trail is often lacking big crowds that other trails attract, making it even more appealing to hikers. The trail can be accessed through the shuttle bus provided by the park.
Timber Creek Overlook Trail
Distance: 1-mile round trip
The Timber Creek Overlook trail, located in the Kolob Canyons of Zion National Park is more of a stroll than a hike, and an easy one at that.
The trail is an easy loop covered with gravel and easy to follow. Within 20-30 minutes, visitors have reached the overlook which provides beautiful views over canyons and the national park.
This is a perfect trail for those who want to see what Zion has to offer without committing to a full, difficult or hours long hike. It is great for those with restless children and perfect if you are short on time.
There are many picnic tables located along the trail, if you wish to stop and have a break or some lunch surrounded by the natural beauty. This is also a great trail in the early mornings and late afternoons as it’s a great spot to see the sunrise and sunset.
Conclusion: Zion National Park Hikes
Did you find the best hike in Zion for you? You really cannot go wrong with any of the hikes on this list of best hikes in Zion.
My vote is for Angels Landing. Its the most popular hike in Zion for a reason!
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