11 Best Hikes in Zion National Park

From easy paved routes to strenuous trails with canyon views, these are the best hikes in Zion National Park.

Angel's Landing, Zion National Park, Utah
Photo: Philip Moreira/EyeEm/Getty Images

Hiking in America's national parks is almost guaranteed to be a notch above any standard hike. The country's most beautiful swaths of land were protected for a reason, and Zion National Park in Utah is no different.

The park in southwest Utah is probably best known for the road that winds through Zion Canyon's steep red cliff walls, but the scenic drive is only the gateway to some of the park's many hiking trails and stunning sites.

The best way to truly see the park is on foot. Hiking allows you to get up close to petroglyphs and inside narrow slot canyons. You can experience the vibrant Emerald Pools, which have waterfalls and a hanging garden, or The Narrows gorge hike. Just keep in mind that while the park is open year round, you should always check the current conditions for trail closures.

Here are 11 of the best hikes in Zion National Park.

Zion Canyon, Zion National Park, Utah
David Gregg/Getty Images

Lower Emerald Pool Trail

There's a reason why the Emerald Pools are a top stop for most visitors to Zion. The park's red rock makes the greenish-blue water pop, and the waterfalls are magnificent. There are technically three separate Emerald Pool Trails (Lower, Middle, and Upper), but all are connected. The entry point for all three is the Lower Emerald Pool Trail, which is paved and perfect for beginners.

From there, you can extend the hike by hopping on the Middle Emerald Pool Trail or even the Upper Emerald Pool Trail, which are both unpaved. Typically, the farther you are willing to hike, the farther you'll get from the crowds.

Trailhead Location: #5 Zion Lodge shuttle stop

Distance: 1.2 miles round trip

Estimated Hiking Time: 1 hour

Difficulty: Easy

Watchman Trail

The Watchman Trail is rated as moderate, as there are some drop-offs along the route. But if you can get past the exposure, you'll be rewarded with views of the entire Springdale area, including lower Zion Canyon, Watchman Peak, and the Temples and Towers. Although the trail is often overlooked by visitors clamoring to see Angels Landing or The Narrows, it is right next to the south entrance making it extremely accessible.

Trailhead Location: #1 Visitor Center shuttle stop

Distance: 3.3 miles round trip

Estimated Hiking Time: 2 hours

Difficulty: Moderate

Kolob Canyon, Zion National Park, Utah
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​​Timber Creek Overlook Trail

Most park visitors head to Zion Canyon, but to the northwest, near the park's west entrance, you'll find the stunning Kolob Canyons. One of the best ways to see the canyons is by hiking the Timber Creek Overlook Trail. The easy, short route follows a ridge with views over the canyons, Kolob Terrace, and the Pine Valley Mountains. If you look carefully, you might even spot the north rim of the Grand Canyon.

Trailhead Location: Kolob Canyons Viewpoint parking lot at the end of Kolob Canyons Road

Distance: 1 mile round trip

Estimated Hiking Time: 0.5 hours

Difficulty: Easy

Canyon Overlook Trail

For such a short hike, the Canyon Overlook Trail packs a punch. There are long, stunning drop-offs (mostly fenced) along the route, which ends at a viewpoint over Pine Creek Canyon and lower Zion Canyon. This hike is classified as moderate, but it shouldn't take you more than an hour to complete and is well-worth your time.

Trailhead Location: Canyon Overlook Trailhead on the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway

Distance: 1 mile round trip

Estimated Hiking Time: 1 hour

Difficulty: Moderate

Pa'rus Trail

If you're looking for a trail that's handicap accessible, want to bike, or have a dog, head to Pa'rus Trail. The paved route is the only trail in the park that is wheelchair accessible and welcomes both leashed dogs and bicycles. Pa'rus Trail is classified as easy and follows the cool Virgin River from South Campground to Canyon Junction.

Trailhead Location: #1 Visitor Center or #3 Canyon Junction shuttle stops

Distance: 3.5 miles round trip

Estimated Hiking Time: 2 hours

Difficulty: Easy

La Verkin Creek Trail

This hike in the Kolob Canyons is more quiet and primitive than most. As you enjoy the solitude at an otherwise busy park, you can enjoy the views of the Kolob Canyons and perhaps most notably, the Kolob Arch, which is one of the world's largest natural arches with a span of almost 300 feet and a width of 75 feet.

Trailhead Location: Lee Pass Trailhead on the Kolob Canyons Road

Distance: 14 miles round trip

Estimated Hiking Time: 8 hours

Difficulty: Moderate

Hikers at The Narrows, Zion National Park, Utah
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The Narrows via Riverside Walk

The Narrows — a tight gorge with 1,000-foot walls — is one of Zion's biggest draws. If you hike The Narrows from Chamberlain's Ranch, you'll need a permit, but you can also experience the wonders of The Narrows by hiking along the wheelchair-accessible Riverside Walk before dipping into the Virgin River and continuing your hike upstream. Just keep in mind you will be walking up the river and will get wet.

Before attempting The Narrows, check the weather and water levels — flash flooding can occur and is extremely dangerous.

Trailhead Location: #9 Temple of Sinawava shuttle stop

Distance: Up to 9.4 miles round trip

Estimated Hiking Time: Up to 8 hours

Difficulty: Strenuous

Wildcat Canyon Trail

This trail in the Kolob Terrace section of Zion National Park winds through ponderosa pine forests and open meadows before coming to the edge of Wildcat Canyon. From the lookout point at what feels like the edge of the earth, you can peer into the deep expanse before crossing the canyon and continuing to the trail's end at the intersection with West Rim Trail and West Rim Road.

Trailhead Location: Wildcat Canyon Trailhead and West Rim Trailhead on the Kolob Terrace Road

Distance: 5.8 miles (one way) between Wildcat Canyon and West Rim Trailheads

Estimated Hiking Time: 3 hours one way

Difficulty: Moderate

Northgate Peaks Trail

This Kolob Terrace hike starts on the Wildcat Canyon Trail before veering to the south and heading for the Northgate Peaks. Although you won't summit the peak on this route, you'll get stellar views of them from the viewpoint at the end of the hike (in addition to the Guardian Angels and the Zion Wilderness).

Trailhead Location: Wildcat Canyon Trailhead on the Kolob Terrace Road

Distance: 4.2 miles round trip from the Wildcat Canyon Trailhead

Estimated Hiking Time: 2 hours

Difficulty: Moderate

Angel's Landing hike in Zion National Park

Don Eim/Travel + Leisure

Angels Landing via West Rim Trail

Angels Landing is one of Zion National Park's must-dos. The entire hike is stunning, but nothing tops the traverse along the narrow red rock fin with steep drop-offs on both sides. The hike is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so as you might expect, it tends to get crowded. To combat overcrowding and protect the stunning terrain, the park now requires all hikers to get a permit. You can apply for a permit one to three months in advance or the day prior through a lottery system.

Trailhead Location: #6 The Grotto shuttle stop

Distance: 5.4 miles round trip

Estimated Hiking Time: 4 hours

Difficulty: Strenuous

Taylor Creek Trail

If you want to explore a canyon on foot, head to Taylor Creek Trail in the Kolob Canyons part of the park. The route leads hikers into a narrow box canyon that winds toward the Double Arch Alcove, a spot with natural openings in the Navajo sandstone. Along the way you'll pass a geologic formation and two cabins from the early 1930s.

Just keep in mind that winter conditions can be icy.

Trailhead Location: Taylor Creek Trailhead on the Kolob Canyons Road

Distance: 5 miles round trip

Estimated Hiking Time: 3-4 hours

Difficulty: Moderate

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