A Day of Hiking
Tomorrow we leave for Denver, Colorado. So… today we choose our last adventures wisely.
First up… a trail overlooking the Zion Canyon at its approach from the east entrance.
We head by car to drive east on Route 9. As we near the Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel, I make sure to get a good shot of the window excavation blasted through the rock. Look closely in the picture below and you will see it too. Later, at the canyon overlook, you will see it again.
As we exit the tunnel, there’s a parking area to the right for the trailhead. Luckily we find a space to park the car.
Canyon overlook trail
This short but scenic trail is one of the few “official” trails in the Upper East Canyon. Park sources recommend this hike for first-time visitors to Zion. It ends at an overlook with a great view of the Main Canyon.
The slickrock slabs of this high desert trail provide just enough of an adventure… not too strenuous but with enough places for a dangerous fall.
The mile hike out and back begins just east of the famous tunnel.
The trailhead is across the street from the parking area and the slickrock stairway leads us up immediately.
We ascend less dramatically now, but the views are nothing less than dramatic.
We arrive at the top!
There’s the road below switchbacking into the Main Canyon.
A plaque identifies some prominent rock formations.
We climb on the slickrock.
Here’s the view of the tunnel window I promised you.
It’s beautiful here!
I take a picture of hikers coming and going before we head back.
Below, we step over tree trunks that once stood proudly before the erosive forces of wind and rain left them twisted and beaten down.
As we return through the tunnel and head back to the Main Canyon, Jeff and I play “I Spy” to see who can locate where we just were. We drive slowly and pull over. Both of us agree the circle marks the spot.
And finally, as we head down from the tunnel one last time, I capture the big white rock that looks so out of place on the hillside below. Each time we have driven by we commented on its precarious position. Will it still be there the next time we pass through?
We return to the RV, park the car, feed the dogs, and walk the half mile to the NP pedestrian entrance and Visitor Center where we board the shuttle.
We exit at Stop 7, Weeping Rock, where we plan to hike to Hidden Canyon.
On the way to the Hidden Canyon Trail we take a short side trip to Weeping Rock.
Weeping rock trail
This half-mile round trip trail is the shortest in the park. But don’t be fooled. It is moderately steep and the broken pavement and slippery moss on the rocks make it unsuitable for strollers and wheelchairs.
The trail culminates with steps leading into a carved out alcove where water seeps down from above.
A plaque explains the geology of Weeping Rock: Mud deposited in lowland streams millions of years ago was covered with wind-blown sand. Centuries of pressure squeezed the mud into thin shale layers and the sand into thick sandstone layers. Rain and snow falling on the plateau above soaks into the sandstone. When it reaches the shale it moves sideways to emerge from the cliff face as a spring.
Hidden canyon trAil
We return to the Weeping Rock Trailhead and start hiking up the trail to Observation Point, a strenuous 8 mile round trip hike.
Instead of continuing left at the fork, we head to the right for a 3 mile round trip hike ascending the east side of the main canyon.
With an elevation gain of over 1,000 feet, this trail is quite strenuous as it crosses a few ravines and leads hikers through several deep drop-offs.
Series of chains help us navigate through these exposed sections.
Hidden Canyon is beautiful, narrow, deep, and tucked above the main canyon below. The trail ends at the mouth of the hidden canyon but more adventurous hikers can scramble rocks and continue to explore further up the canyon.
Jeff and I opt out of continuing further. This is actually our 3rd trail of the day. We still have to descend another 1.5 miles and walk back to the RV.
And I have just conquered another hike not recommended for those of us afraid of heights!