Hiking Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks
by Erik Molvar & Tamara Martin (Falcon Guides)
© 2013 Erik Molvar & Tamara Martin/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.
This trail, without any sidetrips, is exactly 11.38 miles from the East Rim Parking area to Weeping Rock and the bus stop.
The hike has a little elevation gain, but nothing extremely strenuous. The first part follows an old road bed that is now mostly sand. The footing is slow for about a mile and a half before it solidifies.
You experience great interior canyon views, but after about five miles, the trail nears the edge of a gorge which is spectacular. It then follows Echo Canyon, which also has spectacular views. It then drops into Echo Canyon. The initial descent is very steep, and it's mostly downhill the rest of the way before hitting the junction to Observation Point.
Shortly after the turnoff to Observation point, the trail descends along a steep slot canyon. Eventually you'll come to the base of it and can turn left and enter the canyon for a short ways. It is Spectacular! Definitely one of the highlights of the trip.
The remainder of the trip is downhill on a paved but steep path. A long hike, but other than the distance, not particularly challenging. Great views throughout with quite a bit of diversity.
The first few miles of the hike are on an old wagon road which offers views of checkerboard mesa as you wind your way up. This is nice but what follows on this trail is way better. If you are looking for a longer hike than spelled out by the trail guide, then take the side trip to Cable Mountain, an extra 6 miles round trip. Going out to cable mountain first allows you to see some sections of the hike that are to come but distance obscures what you will actually experience when you get to the later parts of the trail. From cable mountain, you are literally looking down on the famous Angels Landing. It's a great stop. The final miles of the trail are lots of fun and the diversity of what you see is great. As with the West Rim trail, your final mile or so is on a heavily used tourist "trail." If you can handle it, I recommend you do the West Rim Trail the day before you do the East Rim Trail and that will give you a great idea of what it is like to approach Zion Canyon from either direction. October might be one of the best times to hike these trails because temperatures and sun can ne manageable.
These are point to point hikes so if you don't have 2 cars, arrange for a private shuttle to take you to the trailhead and then take the national park bus from the end of the trail back to the visitor center where you can easily jump on the free Springdale shuttle to get back to your hotel or car. We have used Zion Adventure Company for the shuttle and they were great. We met the van at Zion Adventure Company in Springdale (leaving our car in front of the place). Later in the day the Sprindale bus dropped us a block away from the place.
I recommend taking the 6:30AM van to the trail heads. You will be the only people or part of only a few who are out on these trails that early and if its a hot day, you can avoid some of the heat.
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