Angeles Trails

LA Hiking & More

Zion National Park, Utah

see me.. I am to the right of the great arch on the little bridge that is hanging off the rock.Zion National Park offers a wide range of hiking opportunities, with something suitable for every age and experience level, during every month of the year. The options are endless. The park’s shuttle system stops at many trailheads. Fun and really beautiful. Enjoy.

Canyon OverlookLength: 1 mile roundtripDifficulty: EasyDescription: The Canyon Overlook is a favorite among photographers and casual tourists alike. The trail itself is short and not particularly steep; elevation gain is somewhere around 100 feet between the parking lot and the viewpoint. The trailhead is initiated by a collection of stone steps that ascend the stone ridge directly above the north side of the road, across the street from the parking lot. The trail passes through shaded alcoves with ferns and trees, and over bare slickrock, wandering its way to the edge of the impressive cliff that makes up the overlook. The expanse of Zion Canyon is open before the Overlook, with its monumental formations visible on either side of the canyon. The switchbacks below the west end of the Mount Carmel Tunnel, West Temple, the Towers of the Virgins, the Streaked Wall, and the Beehives all make up part of this tremendous view. East Temple rises directly above the Overlook, towering more than 2,200 feet above the canyon floor. Great Arch lies recessed into the cliff-face below the Overlook, carving its way through the eons into the solid sandstone.

The trailhead is reached by following Highway 9, to the east entrance of the Mount Carmel Tunnel, directly below the East Temple Saddle. There is a parking area on the south side of the road, and the trailhead is across the street, on the north side of the road.

Canyon Overlook TrailheadThe trailhead begins across the street from the parking lot. This is also the site of the east entrance of the Mount Carmel Tunnel, as well as the beginning point for those interested in descending the technical slot canyon of Pine Creek.

Canyon OverlookThe overlook is fairly easy to get to, and even most kids will find the trek more exciting than strenuous. From the Overlook itself, along with the awesome view into the lower end of Zion Canyon, visitors can ascend the East Temple Saddle, and then explore the upper end of Pine Creek.

The Great ArchThis is not a true arch, though it will be in a few million years. Just the same, the Great Arch is famously huge and deep. Visible from the highway, the proto-arch is slowly burrowing its way in to the southeast flank of east Temple.

Mount Carmel West EntranceThe tunnel opens up here as the road descends along the side of the canyon, following three sets of switchbacks that lead down to the mouth of wildly popular Zion Canyon.

East TempleEast Temple towers above Pine Creek and the Overlook, standing as a sentinel to the entrance of Zion Canyon and all of the treasured formations within.

Emerald Pool-LowerLength: 1.2 mile roundtripDifficulty: EasyDescription: The Lower Pool is popular among hikers for its beauty and accessibility. The trail is short and gently sloped—with only 70 feet of elevation gain. Shaded by cottonwoods and other riverside greenery, the trail winds through one of Zion’s many hidden paradises, leading to a startlingly gorgeous canyon sanctuary. The Emerald Pools system has a few trail options for the three different levels of the Pools. All of them except for one start across the road from the Zion Lodge, where you go over a bridge to cross the North Fork of the Virgin River. Swimming is not permitted at Emerald Pools anymore.

Emerald Pools TrailheadTwo trails start at this spot, the Lower and the Middle. The trail to the lower Pool is fairly straightforward, just over half a mile long, meandering through the riparian habitat along the bottom of the river, even passing underneath the two waterfalls that come from the Middle Pool above.

Lower PoolDespite the relative ease of the hike, hikers find themselves amid the classic towering rock formations of Zion—but surrounded by a paradise of green.

Middle PoolSteeper and longer than the Lower Pool Trail, the trail to the Middle Pools begins in the same spot, but climbs higher up the slope, exploring yet another level of the exquisite Zion waterway.

Upper PoolThe Upper Pool is harder to reach than the other two, though worth the extra time that it will take to visit. Waterfalls, fast and powerful during the runoff months, add to the breathtaking backdrop of Zion Canyon.

Grotto TrailLength: .6 miles one wayDifficulty: EasyDescription: The Grotto Trail is a short stretch that connects the Grotto picnic area to Zion Lodge. It is level (negligible elevation gain), short, and easy, but gives visitors a nice taste of the spectacular canyons. You can make this route a full loop by taking the Grotto Trail from the picnic area down to Zion Lodge, and from there crossing the river, exploring the Emerald Pools, and then following the kayenta Trail back to the Grotto picnic area. The trail ends at the Zion Lodge, which has a restaurant, some shops, and most importantly, water.

Grotto TrailheadThe trail begins at the Grotto Picnic Area. Get there by riding the shuttle up Zion Canyon past Court of the Patriarchs and Zion Lodge; the Grotto is the next shuttle stop on the right.

Zion LodgeThe trail heads back down the canyon to the Zion Lodge, a good place to rest, eat and fill water bottles for further exploration.

Emerald PoolsIf you make a loop hike via the Emerald Pools, you’ll enjoy seeing a three-tiered pool and waterfall system, renowned for its beautiful falls and crystal pools.

Kayenta TrailThe loop hike follow the Kayenta Trail, a short path that meanders along the low shelf at the foot of Mount Moroni, going from the Emerald Pools, to the Grotto.

Pine Creek WaterfallLength: .5 mile roundtripDifficulty: ModerateDescription: This waterfall is beautiful, yet accessible, which is not the case for many of the more remote waterfalls of the Zion area. Pine Creek Waterfall is located within the Pine Creek Canyon itself, below the ravine that runs between Mount Spry and East Temple, and beside the switchbacks that allow the highway to climb up to the western end of the Mount Carmel Tunnel. The hike itself is very short, though rugged, complete with boulder and sand obstacles, and a lot of water. A pool sits below the fall, inviting hikers to take a moment to wade and swim—which is permitted in this area, unlike some of the other pools in the Zion area. Many hikers take the time to explore past the falls, climbing higher along Pine Creek. As visitors follow the creek upstream, the canyon closes in around them until they find themselves at the mouth of the Pine Creek Slot Canyon.

The majority of hikers content themselves with the half-mile roundtrip journey from the bridge to the falls and back, exploring what they may along the route. But some intrepid individuals attempt the slot canyon of the upper creek, descending over 1.5 miles through half a dozen rappels, the last one a free rappel through the center of an amazing sandstone cathedral. This route is obviously technical and strenuous, and should only be attempted by experienced, equipped canyoneers. Canyoneers would need to leave a vehicle at the Pine Creek Bridge and then drive a second vehicle back to the Overlook parking lot in order to complete this route. The cathedral descent of the Pine Creek slot canyon is argued by many canyoneering enthusiasts to be one of the best rappels anywhere.

Pine Creek TrailheadThe Pine Creek Trailhead is located on the westernmost switchback, at the bridge. From there you just follow the stream up to the waterfalls. The hike is short, though rocky and muddy in spots.

Pine Creek WaterfallPine Creek Waterfall sits right below the ravine that runs up between the towering East Temple and the smaller Mount Spry. During warmer months people wade in the pool below the falls.

Pine Creek Slot CanyonPine Creek has dug a challenging slot canyon into the stone below the Mount Carmel Tunnel, ending at the east entrance to the tunnel. This is a technical slot with a lot of rappelling required in order to descend from the Canyon Overlook parking lot to the Pine Creek Waterfall. Depending on the season and the amount of rainfall, there are often large pools within this part of the canyon that need to be waded between rappels.

The Great ArchThis is not a true arch, though it will be in a few million years. Just the same, the Great Arch is famously huge and deep. Visible from the highway, the proto-arch is slowly burrowing its way in to the southeast flank of east Temple.

Canyon Overlook Parking LotThis marks the higher end of the Pine Creek slot canyon, situated beside the east tunnel entrance, and the beginning of a technical canyoneering hike through the slot.

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