Best, Easiest, & Most Difficult Hikes In Zion National Park

Since its inception in 1919, Zion National Park has gained a reputation as one of the best destinations in the world for hiking. This small national park packs some of the best hikes into one fantastic package.

Let’s take a look at the best hikes in Zion National Park?

  1. Observation Point
  2. The Watchman
  3. Angels Landing
  4. East Rim Trail
  5. Emerald Pools Trail
  6. Canyon Overlook Trail
  7. Pa’rus Trail
  8. Riverside Walk
  9. The Narrows Hike
  10. Weeping Rock Trail
  11. Hidden Canyon Trail
  12. Subway Hike

Whether you’re looking to get a surge of adrenaline on the high rocks of Angels Landing or experience the canyon walls towering above you on the Narrows, or you’re looking for a quiet stroll along the Pa’rus trail, Zion National Park has something for everyone for hikers and campers.

The 12 Best Hikes In Zion National Park

Before you set off on your hiking adventure, be sure to do your research and pick the trail that’s right for you! Each trail is rated according to its level of difficulty, easy, moderate, or strenuous.

Hidden Canyon Trail, Weeping Rock Trail, and Observation Point Trail are all closed long-term due to rockfalls.

The view from the switchbacks as you ascend to Angels Landing.

1. Observation Point Trail

  • Length (round trip): 8.0 miles (6 hours)
  • Elevation Change: 2,148 feet
  • Rated: Strenuous

This trail, which branches off the East Rim trail after about 2.5 miles, climbs along switchbacks through the Navajo sandstone of Echo Canyon, past steep drop-offs, to a flat viewpoint overlooking Zion Canyon.

This trail gives you a less crowded alternative to Angels Landing, with fantastic canyon views. You will overlook Angels Landing from 700 feet above at the highest point.

2. The Watchman

  • Length (round trip): 3.3 miles (2 hours)
  • Elevation Change: 368 feet
  • Rated: Moderate

This trail leads you along the Virgin River, through huge cottonwoods to the viewpoint at the end, providing a vista of Watchman Peak to the south and Angels Landing to the north.

3. Angels Landing

  • Length (round trip): 5.4 miles (4 hours)
  • Elevation Change: 1,488 feet
  • Rated: Strenuous

Beginning at shuttle stop #6 (The Grotto), you hike up through cool and shady Refrigerator Canyon, the grueling series of 21 switchbacks known as Walter’s Wiggles, and onto Scout’s Lookout.

Here, you have a broad, flat area overlooking the canyon below. If you don’t want to tackle the final half a mile to Angels Landing, turn around here. This last stretch is along a ridgeline with dizzying drops to the valley below.

Even though you have chains anchored to the rock to help you, we recommend this section only for the adventurous. Go slowly and cautiously; accidents can and do happen. The lookout offers 360-degree views of the valley floor.

Start this hike early; it’s popular and gets very busy in the middle of the day. As of April 1, 2022, a permit will be required to hike the final section of this route.

Our knees hurt when descending from Angels Landing and we could have used some knee support for this hike. If this sounds like you consider getting a knee brace and keeping it in your backpack (Link to Amazon). If we had the knee brace our descent time would have been cut in half.

More about Angels Landing.

4. East Rim Trail

  • Length (one way): 5.9 miles to Stave Spring (6 hour round trip), 10.6 miles to Observation Point (8-14 hour round trip)
  • Elevation Change: 1,000 feet to Stave Spring
  • Rated: Strenuous

Accessible from the East Rim Trailhead at the East Entrance on the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway or from the Stave Spring Trailhead.

The trail climbs to the plateau with views of sandstone cliffs before going through the ponderosa pine forest. You can head to Stave Spring or continue on the trail and descend into Echo Canyon.

5. Emerald Pools Trails

  • Length (round trip): 1-2 miles (1-1.5 hours)
  • Elevation Change: 150-200 feet
  • Rated: Moderate

The Upper Emerald Pools Trail is a 1-mile sandy and rocky trail leading to the Upper Emerald Pool at the base of 300-foot cliffs of weeping rock which becomes a waterfall in spring.

The Middle Emerald Pools Trail is a 2.2-mile unpaved climb leading to a sandstone ledge with moderate drop-offs.

You can return via the Kayenta Trail for more adventure.

A 1.2-mile paved trail leads to Lower Emerald Pool and waterfalls for an easy option.

Swimming in the pools is prohibited.

Learn more about the Emerald Pools Trails.

6. Canyon Overlook Trail

  • Length (round trip): 1.0 mile (1 hour)
  • Elevation Change: 163 feet
  • Rated: Moderate

The trailhead is located at the east entrance of the Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel and requires personal transportation. Parking is extremely limited.

This short hike hugs the side of the mountain along narrow ledges and over a wooden walkway suspended above a drop-off. Some of these ledges have no barriers, so do not bring young kids along. The reward is spectacular views over the valley.

East Temple towers above the overlook, and you will also have views of West Temple, Beehive, Tower of Virgins, and Streaked Wall.

7. Pa’rus Trail

  • Length (round trip): 3.5 miles (2 hours)
  • Elevation change: 50 feet
  • Rated: Easy

A paved trail following the Virgin River from the South Campground to Canyon Junction. Accessible to wheelchairs and open to bicycles. Pets are allowed on a leash.

This easy walk affords beautiful views of some soaring mountains, namely the Watchman, West Temple, Bridge Mountain, and Bee Hive.

8. Riverside Walk

  • Length (round trip): 2.2 miles (1.5 hours)
  • Elevation Change: 57 feet
  • Rated: Easy

A paved trail follows the Virgin River along the bottom of a narrow canyon, giving spectacular views of the cliff walls. It provides access to the bottom-up Narrows route.

You can see hanging gardens, weeping walls, and the Virgin River. Primitive trails in places give access to the river.

This paved trail is accessible to wheelchairs and strollers.

9. The Narrows Hike

  • Length (round trip): up to 9.4 miles (up to 8 hours)
  • Elevation Change: 334 feet
  • Rated: Strenuous

Starting at shuttle stop #9, the Temple of Sinawava, or from the Riverside Walk, the Narrows Hike sees you walking upstream through the Virgin River, with the canyon walls soaring 1,000 feet above you. You will spend most of this hike knee-deep or even waist-deep in cold water.

Wear water shoes for the slippery conditions in the slot canyon. Proceed with caution, and do not hike if rain is forecast: flash floods occur and are deadly. This trail is closed from time to time due to flash flooding.

You can hike this trail as far as you like, as far as Big Spring. Travel beyond Big Spring or into Orderville Canyon is prohibited. The best scenery is at Wall Street, around two hours in.

No permit is required for this route, but if you do the top-down route from Chamberlain’s Ranch, a 16-mile trip, you will need a permit. The top-down route takes approximately 12 hours, and you can do it as an overnight trip.

The top-down route is worth the commitment if you have the time, as it passes through some of the best scenery in the canyon.

Read our article about hiking the Narrows for beginners.

10. Weeping Rock Trail

  • Length (round trip): 0.4 miles (30 minutes)
  • Elevation Change: 98 feet
  • Rated: Easy

A short, steep paved trail leads to a rocky alcove with dripping springs that can become a waterfall in spring and summer (whenever it rains). The constant moisture supports lush vegetation. You will see hanging gardens along the wall.

Expect to get somewhat wet.

11. Hidden Canyon Trail

  • Length (round trip): 2.5 miles (2.5 hours)
  • Elevation Change: 850 feet
  • Rated: Strenuous

Despite similarly dizzying drop-offs to Angels Landing, the views on this hike aren’t quite as fantastic, meaning that it is much less popular. It is a good option if you are looking for a less crowded walk.

This hike branches off to the right from the East Rim Trail at the sign.

The trail winds up the cliff face in a series of switchbacks to the mouth of a narrow hanging canyon.

12. Subway Hike

  • Length: 9 miles bottom-up (7-9 hours)
  • Elevation Change: 1,400 feet
  • Rated: Strenuous

This hike takes you along the slot canyon of the Left Fork of North Creek through sections that resemble a subway tunnel.

A technical hike, the best way to see this hike is from the top down, which is a demanding 9.5-mile canyoneering route. You can also hike it from the bottom up.

It is not as popular due to its technical requirements, so you should add this hike to your list if you have the skills. You will see cascades, waterfalls, rock pools, and rock carvings.

A permit is required to hike this route.

Easy Hiking Trails At Zion National Park

Hiking TrailDistanceEst. Hiking TimeElevation
Pa’rus Trail3.5 mi2 hours50 ft
Archeology Trail0.4 mi30 min80 ft
Lower Emerald Pool Trail1.2 mi1 hour69 ft
Grotto Trail1 mi30 min35 ft
Weeping Rock Trail0.4 mi30 min98 ft
Riverside Walk2.2 mi1.5 hours57 ft
Easy hikes in Zion National Park

Moderate Hiking Trails At Zion National Park

Hiking TrailDistanceEst. Hiking TimeElevation
Watchman Trail3.3 mi2 hours368 ft
Sandbench Trail7.6 mi5 hours466 ft
Middle Emerald Pools Trail2.2 mi1.5 hours150 ft
Kayenta Trail2.0 mi1.5 hours150 ft
Upper Emerald Pool Trail1.0 mi1 hour200 ft
Canyon Overlook Trail1.0 mi1 hour163 ft
Moderately difficult hikes in Zion National Park

Difficult Hiking Trails At Zion National Park

Hiking TrailDistanceEst. Hiking TimeElevation
Angels Landing5.4 mi4 hours1,488 ft
Hidden Canyon Trail2.5 mi2.5 hours850 ft
Observation Point8.0 mi6 hours2,148 ft
The Narrows9.4 mi (or as far as you’d like to go)8 hours (or as long as you’d like to go)334 ft
Difficult hikes in Zion National Park

Conclusion

Zion has hikes for every level of ability. Whether you take a high route to give you views over the canyon, or a low path through the canyon, you will experience some spectacular scenery.

The truly iconic Zion hikes are Angels Landing and the Narrows, but you should also consider doing some other hikes. Plan to spend several days hiking in Zion National Park.

Remember to stay safe around potential flash flooding and steep drop-offs. Drink plenty of water, wear sun protection, and bring layers in case of weather changes. Happy hiking!