Hiking Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks
by Erik Molvar & Tamara Martin (Falcon Guides)
© 2013 Erik Molvar & Tamara Martin/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.
A friend and I hiked from the Grotto Trailhead to the west rim this past weekend and it was spectacular. The trail to Angels Landing is very well traveled, but past that we were pretty much alone for the rest of the hike, despite it being Memorial day weekend. Between Angels Landing and the West rim the trail is literally carved into the rock in some places, and provides views that seem to get better at every turn. The West rim spring was flowing well, and campsite 3 had good views of its own.
No go past the bridge because the CCC built the trail with impermeable cement that gets very icy. The cement is breaking up, though, and thankfully the NPS isn't repairing it. Park cops (they used to be called rangers, but they aren't anymore) never patrol this trail anyway outside of summer, so go at your own risk. Right at the summit (600 yards before the bridge, after Scout lookout) there is a flat area extending to some buttes on the south. There is a beat-out trail through the brush to get you onto the slickrock. Proceed south to the beautiful drainage and you will find a gorgeous overview of Walter's Wiggles and great lunch spots. No camping anymore, but this used to be the best camping in the park. You can also find the ruins of an old CCC trail and water diversion works. NPS doesn't mention it, sort of like when Stalin erased/airbrushed out photos of people he killed. They don't want you there because it is GORGEOUS. Have fun.
Backpacking from the Grotto to Horse Pasture was definitely strenuous, but the views are breathtaking. Looking back at Angel’s Landing from the trail north of Scout Lookout provides a new perspective of the Angel’s Landing hike.
The West Rim trail provides views of Zion that are not as easily seen on the more traveled trails. Upon reaching Horse Pasture, you have reached another world within Zion. The views near the rim are spectacular in all directions. This section of the park appears to be almost untouched by man.
If you want solitude from the crowds during the early spring this is the hike. Again, it is highly recomended that you enjoy the solitude of nature and stay a night or two on the rim of the canyon. You will be amazed if you see more than a few people. Depending on what time ou begin yor trek(Sunrise suggested), you can set you pack aside and hike out to angel's landing. The views are breathtaking along this entire journey. Enjoy it.
Don't be alarmed at the pastoral nature of the first few miles of this hike (it is Horse Pasture plateau after all). Just when you start complaining about the hike, you will soon be ambushed by one of the most spectacular viewpoints in my experience, peering down on the technicolor wonder of back country Zion. More and more jaw dropping views come with ever increasing frequency, until you are overwhelmed by constant canyon greatness. Once you have done the Narrows, definitely do not miss this! We took a shuttle to Lava point and it was worth the $
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