The 10 Best Hikes in Zion National Park

Hiking in Zion National Park

Zion national park offers numerous opportunities for hiking covering a wide range of difficulty levels. The park offers plenty of short hikes that are family-friendly while still offering exceptional views.

Moderate hikes allow for scrambling through canyons and wading through rivers. It also includes difficult trails that will test more experienced hikers with sheer drop-offs and steep terrain.

Here are 10 of the best hiking trails in Zion National Park.

Angels Landing

  • Length : 5 miles
  • Difficulty : Hard
  • Estimated Time : 4 to 5 hours
  • Best Time : June

Easily the most popular hike in Zion National Park, Angels Landing sees thousands of visitors each year. This is despite the fact that this is not some easy trek to an overlook.

This trail ascends nearly 1,500 feet over the course of 2.5 miles with steep switchbacks and sheer cliff faces, making this not only a difficult hike, but also a dangerous one. If you have issues with heights, this may not be the trail for you.

Start the trail at the Grotto Picnic area in Zion Canyon. You’ll encounter a steep set of 21 switchbacks known as Walter’s Wiggles, which were created in the 1920s, but the real challenge comes near the top, where those brave enough to venture on an encounter a narrow rock path that’s just a few feet wide with sheer 1,000 foot drops on either side to Angels Landing.

Observation Point

  • Length : 8 miles
  • Difficulty : Hard
  • Estimated Time : 10 to 12 hours
  • Best Time : July

This challenging hike takes you to the highest point in the park at more than 6,500 feet. Although this is a popular trail, it’s also one of the harder ones in the park. Start out by taking a shuttle to stop #7. From there you’ll begin this epic 8-mile round trip by hiking up a series of steep switchbacks over sandstone rock.

As you ascend you’ll be treated to an ever widening panorama of the park’s canyon. You’ll go through Echo Canyon before reaching Observation Point. From there the entire park will be beneath you with a spectacular view of Zion Canyon and Angels Landing.

Temperatures are typically cooler at this elevation but make sure to bring along plenty of water and sunscreen as most of this trail is exposed.

Watchman Overlook Trail

  • Length : 3 miles
  • Difficulty : Easy
  • Estimated Time : 1 to 2 hours
  • Best Time : September

This family-friendly hike is easy to get to and easy to traverse. It begins at the Watchman’s Creek Campground near the Visitor Center at the park’s south entrance. This loop covers about 3 miles with just over 500 feet of elevation.

This hike is often overlooked in favor of the more popular Observation Point and Angel’s Landing hikes, making it a good option during peak season.

You’ll hike along a spring through copses of large cottonwood trees, which provide much appreciated shade during the hot summer months. Along the way you’ll have incredible views of nearby Observation Point and Angel’s Landing as well as the Watchman.

This is an excellent way to take in scenic views without the strenuous climbs associated with other popular hikes at the park.

The Narrows

  • Length : 10 miles
  • Difficulty : Hard
  • Estimated Time : 7 to 8 hours
  • Best Time : July

Along with Observation Point and Angel’s Landing, the Narrows is one of the most famous hiking trails in the park. Unlike the other two, which go high, the Narrows goes low, taking you through the narrowest section of Zion Canyon hiking along and sometimes through the Virgin River.

Be prepared if you plan to hike The Narrows as it does involve wading through ankle deep water. Water shoes are highly recommended. The Narrows can be hiked from the top down or the bottom up.

The bottom up is the more odable of the two and allows you to go as far as Big Spring or cut this trip as short as you like. You’ll traverse through the narrowest parts of the canyon including a mile through the river.

Canyon Overlook Trail

  • Length : 1 miles
  • Difficulty : Easy
  • Estimated Time : 1 to 2 hours
  • Best Time : July

This easy trail is perfect for families with younger children who can’t handle the more difficult trails teh park has to offer. Although it’s just one mile long, making it one of the shortest trails in the park that offers an observation point above the canyon.

From the top, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of the Temples, Bridge Mountain, Pine Creek Stream, Zion Mt Carmel highway and the Towers of Virgin.

The trailhead begins from a parking area just before the Zion-Mt Carmel Tunnel. As this trail does start at a higher elevation and involves some narrow paths and a bridge crossing, and the overlook is only protected by a small railing, so make sure to keep small children close.

Emerald Pools Trail

  • Length : 1 to 3 miles
  • Difficulty : Easy or moderate
  • Estimated Time : 2 hours
  • Best Time : July

This moderate loop trail features plenty of payoff for a relatively short 3-mile hike with two amazing water features. You’ll start off at the Zion Lodge and complete a half mile hike to the falls of the Lower Emerald Pools, which are fed by a beautiful waterfall.

The pools get their name from the emerald colored algae that grows during summer, giving the water its deep green color. For less experienced hikers or those with small children, this is a good turning around point.

Others can continue on up a stairway to Upper Emerald Pools. Head back from there or take the Karenta Trail, which follows a rock shelf above the Virgin River, to make this excursion a three-mile loop.

Pa’Rus Trail

  • Length : 3.5 miles
  • Difficulty : Easy
  • Estimated Time: 3 to 4 hours
  • Best Time : July

While many people flock to the higher elevation trails in the park, you don’t need to take a difficult hike in order to see some of the most amazing views of the park’s geological features. Many are at lower elevation trails such as the Pa’Rus Trail, which means bubbling water.

This family-friendly trail, which can be accessed from the Watchman Campground, meanders along the Virgin River providing impressive views of the park’s redrock peaks of the lower canyon.

As you travel through the river valley you’ll cross the river. You’ll pass numerous access points to the river along the way, affording you an excellent opportunity to relax on its sandy shores or even go for a cool swim.

Riverside Walk

  • Length : 2 miles
  • Difficulty : Easy
  • Estimated Time : 1 to 2 hours
  • Best Time : August

As the name of this trail indicates, Riverside Walk takes you along the Virgin River, giving you amazing views of the canyon and river. Surrounding cliff faces tower over the trail on both sides.

This paved trail follows along a cliff wall with small side trails that lead to the river bank. The trailhead is at the Temple of Sinawava at the end of Zion Canyon. Start along the path, which is sheltered by cottonwood trees on one side.

You’ll pass hanging gardens and several small waterfalls that feed into the river. The trail ends at the mouth of the Narrows, providing hikers an opportunity to wade in the river during summer months before heading back.

Taylor Creek Trail

  • Length : 5 miles
  • Difficulty : Moderate
  • Estimated Time : 3 to 4 hours
  • Best Time : June

Taylor Creek Trail is the most popular hiking destination at Kolob Canyon, and one of the few designated trails in this section of the park. Although Kolob Canyon is a drive from the main section of the park, this trail is worth it.

Though it’s a 5-mile trail, the trek is fairly easy, making it suitable for children. Along this trail you’ll be hiking through creek banks and around boulders. You’ll pass two historical cabins: Larson Cabin and Fife Cabin, both of which were built in the 1930s prior to the addition of the Kolb Canyon section to the park in the 1950s.

The hike ends at the Double Arch Alcove, a cave-like geological formation with striking black and white coloring.

Hidden Canyon Trail

  • Length : 3 miles
  • Difficulty : Moderate
  • Estimated Time : 2 to 3 hours
  • Best Time : May

Like the better known Angels Landing, the Hidden Canyon Trail is not for those who are afraid of heights. There are portions of this trail, which hangs on the side of a cliff, that are exposed to sheer drops.

While this trail doesn’t climb to high elevations, like Angels Landing, it does offer a tremendous experience that comes without the crowds.

Begin the hike at Weeping Rock Trailhead. After a difficult climb involving steep switchbacks and up a stone staircase to before coming to the interesting part, which involves traversing a narrow trail that hugs the side of the canyon with sheer drops on the side.

A chain attached to the canyon wall provides a place to steady yourself. The trail continues on to a hidden canyon, which you can explore before heading back the way you came.

Amanda Williams

Amanda Williams is a writer, plant-nerd, and outdoor enthusiast. She has traveled extensively, around the U.S., throughout Asia, Europe, and Latin America. Everywhere she treks, she takes time to enjoy the outdoors. John Muir is her hero. She aspires to inspire people to live better as he did.