Out of the several National Parks, Zion National Park arguably offers some of the most mesmerizing sightseeing opportunities. However, those with little to no hiking experience may be too intimidated to embark on an adventure to see famous landmarks like The Watchman. A simple question to answer is how long does it take to hike The Watchman Trail?
The Watchman Trail hike in Zion National Park takes anywhere between 1.5 to 3 hours to complete. The time it takes to complete this roughly three and a half-mile roundtrip will vary based on your fitness level and hiking experience and how long you spend soaking in the magnificent views.
Choosing which hiking trail to embark on can be somewhat intimidating when you have minimal hiking experience. You might be excited for an adventure but concerned that you lack the fitness and stamina to handle the experience. Discover how long The Watchman Trail is, how difficult it is, and what you need to prepare for this epic hike.
How Long Does It Take To Hike The Watchman Trail?
Because of the seemingly endless list of adventures and sightseeing opportunities Zion National Park offers, knowing where to begin can often be a somewhat overwhelming decision. However, for inexperienced hikers, the good news is that The Watchman Trail is arguably one of the best trails to try for the first time in Zion National Park.
The Watchman Trail in Zion National Park gives hikers an excellent introduction to the Park’s uniqueness by supplying mesmerizing views of several famous landmarks within Zion National Park. Among these landmarks are breathtaking rock formations that have contributed to Utah’s popularity amongst outdoor enthusiasts worldwide.
The Watchman Trail is the closest to the south entrance of Zion National Park, and the trailhead is found at the Zion National Park Visitor Center. This makes The Watchman Trail one of the most accessible hiking trails in Zion National Park. However, despite the trail’s easy access and overall beauty, it is often overshadowed by some of the more famous trails within Zion National Park.
While that may sound like a bad thing, the good news is that this trail does not experience as much foot traffic compared to some of the other popular trails within Zion National Park. This undoubtedly contributes to The Watchman Trail being one of the best trails to start with since you won’t be fighting for space when trying to soak in the mesmerizing views that this trail offers.
The beginning of the hike from the Visitors Center is, unfortunately, the least mesmerizing part of the trek. Here, hikers will pass overflow parking areas and employee housing. However, you will also be hiking alongside the east bank of the Virgin River and have early sightings of the famous Watchman Mountain peak.
After hiking for roughly a quarter mile, the trail veers to the right and becomes more interesting. However, the increase in the beauty of the overall scenery comes at somewhat of a price since the trail does become more strenuous at this point. From here, a roughly 500-foot ascent begins towards a small valley and eventually the initial layer of cliffs of the main canyon.
A loop variant has been added to The Watchman trail giving hikers incredible viewing opportunities of the beauty of Zion National Park. Once you have reached this point, hiking along the right of the loop will lead hikers to unmatched views of Zion Canyon, while hiking to the left takes hikers straight to magnificent views of The Watchman.
This is where hikers will undoubtedly spend the most time soaking in the breathtaking views. From here, hikers will trek back the way they came, completing the roughly 3,5-mile round trip. Overall, The Watchman trail can take anywhere between 1,5 to 3 hours to complete, depending on how much time you spend soaking in the views.
Typically speaking, the average hiker should be able to complete this trail in roughly 2 to 2,5 hours.
How Hard Is The Watchman Trail?
The Watchman trail is rated as a moderate hike from a difficulty perspective. However, this hike is undoubtedly on the easier end of moderate. Sure, there are a few relatively strenuous sections, but nothing that the average hiker wouldn’t be able to do.
Indeed, part of what makes The Watchman such an excellent starting hike in Zion National Park is that it is suitable for hikers of any skill and experience and families with smaller children. However, although most of the cliff edges are protected with railings, some sections are still exposed, so keep a close watch on your kids.
Overall, The Watchman hike is highly recommended for those visiting Zion National Park for the first time, and if you are new to hiking, that makes this an even better trail to enjoy. The magnificent views and overall experience promise to be an unforgettable experience.
Preparing To Hike The Watchman Trail
Although The Watchman hike is considered an easy to moderate hike, ensuring that you are adequately prepared for the hike should still be a high priority, especially if it will be your first time hiking in Zion National Park. Being adequately prepared for a hike guarantees you have the best possible experience.
Firstly, timing is an essential factor when hiking in Zion National Park. Utah can get seriously hot, especially during the summer. To make matters more serious, many hikes, including The Watchman trail, offer little to no shade, making exposure to the sun and heat far more severe.
The best time to hike The Watchman trail is during sunrise or sunset. Firstly, you will be avoiding the peak heat of the day, but you will also be avoiding the foot traffic that this trail can get. Sunrise and sunset also offer the most spectacular views of the famous rock formations.
Wear a hat and apply a decent amount of sunscreen – even if you’ll be hiking during sunrise or sunset. Also, make sure to bring at least a liter of water. Staying hydrated while hiking is essential.
Lastly, don’t forget to bring a camera – the one on your phone will do. You’ll undoubtedly want to snap as many pictures of the magnificent views as you can while hiking.
Overall, The Watchman trail is a roughly 3.5-mile roundtrip that takes hikers an average of 2 to 3 hours to complete. The hike is easy enough for less experienced hikers and those visiting Zion National Park for the first time. The sightseeing opportunities make The Watchman a must-visit hiking trail!