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12 Easy Hikes in Zion National Park for Beginners

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Zion National Park is one of the best hiking destinations in the world. With dozens of easy hikes throughout the park, there’s sure to be a trail for everyone. But, which are the best easy hikes in Zion?

Let me help you! I’ve visited Zion National Park four times over the years, and have made it my mission to hike as many of the trails as I can! One of the best things about Zion is that many of the best hikes are short and easy. This means you can see more in less time by completing several hikes in a single day.

This guide to the best easy hikes in Zion National Park provides an overview of the 12 best trails, what to pack and wear, and helpful tips on hiking in Zion. Happy trails!

Follow the seven Leave No Trace principles: plan your hike in advance, stick to designated trails, carry out all your belongings, dispose of waste properly, leave natural areas untouched, minimize the impact of campfires, show consideration for fellow hikers, and avoid approaching or feeding wildlife.

Watchman Trail Zion National Park is one of the best easy hikes in Zion

Best Easy Hikes in Zion At-A-Glance

  1. Canyon Overlook Trail
  2. Narrows Riverside Trail
  3. Emerald Pools Trail
  4. Weeping Rock
  5. Pa’rus Trail
  6. The Watchman Trail
  7. Court of the Patriarchs Viewpoint
  8. Sand Bench Trail
  9. Grotto Trail
  10. Virgin River Walk
  11. Timber Creek Overlook Trail
  12. Lower Clear Creek (The Hobbit Hole)

Map of Easy Hikes in Zion National Park

1. Canyon Overlook Trail

  • Distance: 0.9 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 157 feet
  • Shuttle: No
  • AllTrails Link
Sarah and Tim watching the Sunrise at the Canyon Overlook Trail

The Canyon Overlook Trail is, in my opinion, the absolute BEST easy hike in Zion National Park. The trail features wooden cliff-hugging bridges, and leads to a stunning view of Zion Canyon. The trail starts from a small parking lot and begins with a climb up rock stairs. Eventually the trail curves around the cliff walls. This is where the fun really begins, since you get to walk across wooden bridges built into the cliff. But don’t worry! They aren’t scary.

Since the trailhead is on the Zion – Mt. Carmel Highway, you can just self-drive and park in the parking lot. The lot is very small, so to avoid crowds, I recommend going as early as you can. This is a good thing, though, as the Canyon Overlook is a perfect spot to watch sunrise in Zion!

2. Narrows Riverside Walk

  • Distance: 1.9 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 193 feet
  • Shuttle: Temple of Sinawava
  • AllTrails Link
Riverside Walk Trail Zion National Park

For an easy, paved alternative to hiking the Narrows, you can instead walk the short trail along the Virgin River that ends where the Narrows begins. On the Riverside Walk, you’ll get to see a pretty portion of the canyon without having to get wet or rent gear as you would to hike the full Narrows.

The Riverside Walk begins at the Temple of Sinawava shuttle stop, where visitors are greeted by the towering cliffs of Zion Canyon and the gentle flow of the Virgin River.

Tip: Be sure to look up at the cliffs just as you start the hike, because you might be able to see a waterfall running!

3. Emerald Pools Trail

  • Distance: 3 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 620 feet
  • Shuttle: The Grotto
  • AllTrails Link
Waterfalls on the Emerald Pools Trail in Zion National Park

The Emerald Pools Trail is one of our favorite short and easy hikes in Zion National Park. The Lower, Middle, and Upper Emerald Pools beautiful pools of water nestled against the red cliffs of Zion Canyon.

At Lower and Middle Emerald Pools, you can hike beneath the spray of the waterfalls, which is a highlight of the hike in our opinion!

At Upper Emerald Pool, there is another, larger waterfall. It’s an awe-inspiring spot, so it makes sense people like to linger and enjoy it for a while. In other words…it can be very crowded at Upper Emerald Pool, which is a small-ish space.

You can hike to all Emerald Pools as either an out-and-back or a loop.

If you want to hike Emerald Pools as a loop, you should start at The Grotto shuttle stop and hike the Kayenta Trail to Lower and Middle Emerald Pools Trails. Then, continue to Upper Emerald Pool. Descend via either the Lower or Middle Emerald Pool trail. You’ll arrive at The Lodge, from where you can hop back on the shuttle, or hike the Grotto Trail back to The Grotto shuttle stop to complete the loop.

Want a shorter hike? You could just hike to Lower and Middle Pools, skipping the additional climb to Upper Pool.

Tip: Avoid crowds by hiking the Middle Pools Trail to Lower and Middle Pools instead of the Lower Emerald Pool Trail.

4. Weeping Rock Trail

  • Distance: 0.3 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 36 feet
  • Shuttle: Weeping Rock
  • AllTrails Link
Weeping Rock Trail Zion National Park

Have you heard of a rock that weeps? Well that is exactly what Weeping Rock is! Water continuously pushes through the rock, creating the lush green foliage known as hanging gardens against the canyon walls.

In the spring, Weeping Rock can turn into a full-on waterfall, with an influx of water from snow melt. How much water you see will depend on how much snow and rain the region got in the winter months. If it’s been a wet winter, look forward to more water in the waterfalls and pools both at Weeping Rock and throughout all of Zion National Park!

The Weeping Rock Trail is incredibly short, at just 0.3 miles round trip. Despite being very short, it is somewhat steep but should be manageable for most people.

Note: The Weeping Rock trail and shuttle stop have closed frequently in recent years for extended periods due to landslides and rock fall. Check with the official national park website for current status before you go!

5. Pa’rus Trail

  • Distance: 3.2 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 134 feet
  • Shuttle: No
  • AllTrails Link
View of the Virgin River from the Pa'rus Trail (Parus Trail)

Embarking on the Pa’rus Trail, you’ll be greeted by the gentle murmur of the Virgin River, whose clear waters meander alongside the paved pathway. The Pa’rus Trail is the only trail in the park open to both hikers and bikers.

Named after the Paiute word for “bubbling, tumbling water,” the Pa’rus Trail follows the river’s course, offering an intimate connection to the park’s natural splendor.

As you stroll along the trail, you’ll be surrounded by a tapestry of vibrant flora and fauna, including native wildflowers, cottonwood trees, and a variety of bird species. Keep your eyes peeled for sightings of mule deer, squirrels, and other wildlife that call Zion home.

One of the highlights of hiking the Pa’rus Trail is the opportunity to marvel at Zion’s iconic landmarks from a unique perspective. The trail provides sweeping views of the towering sandstone cliffs that rise majestically from the canyon floor, from the towering monoliths of the Court of the Patriarchs to the dramatic formations of the Watchman.

6. Watchman Trail

  • Distance: 3.1 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 636 feet
  • Shuttle: No
  • AllTrails Link
Tim and Sarah in front of Zion Canyon in Zion National Park on the Watchman Trail.
The Watchman Trail in Zion National Park

The Watchman Trail is approximately 3.3 miles (5.3 kilometers) round trip, making it a relatively short hike that can be completed in a few hours. This makes it an excellent option if you are looking for a rewarding outdoor adventure without committing to a full day of hiking.

While the trail does involve some elevation gain, particularly as it ascends the canyon walls, the switchbacks are gradual. It is one of the easiest climbs in the park.

As you ascend, the trail gradually winds its way up the canyon walls, following gentle switchbacks. Upon reaching the summit, you will be treated to breathtaking panoramic views of Zion Canyon, with the iconic Watchman rock formation taking center stage in the landscape.

Bonus: Unlike many trails in Zion Canyon, this one offers the convenience of starting right by the parking lot at the Zion National Park Visitor Center, eliminating the need for the park shuttle or a bike.

Tip: The Watchman Trail is a great sunrise hike option in Zion National Park!

7. Court of the Patriarchs Viewpoint

  • Distance: 0.5 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain: Minimal
  • Shuttle: Court of the Patriarchs
  • AllTrails Link

If you seek a shorter yet equally rewarding hiking experience in Zion National Park, the Court of the Patriarchs Viewpoint Trail is a great choice. At just 0.5 miles round trip and minimal elevation gain, it’s perfect for if you have limited time or energy.

While the trail is relatively short, it provides a glimpse into the majestic beauty of Zion Canyon, showcasing the towering sandstone monoliths known as the Court of the Patriarchs. These imposing rock formations, named after biblical figures Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, stand as silent sentinels amidst the surrounding landscape.

Tip: Consider visiting the Court of the Patriarchs Viewpoint Trail at sunset on your way out of the park for an easy and magical end to your day in Zion National Park. The soft afternoon light illuminates the towering cliffs, casting a warm glow over the landscape.

8. Sand Bench Trail

  • Distance: 3.8 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 721 feet
  • Shuttle: Court of the Patriarchs
  • AllTrails Link

The Sand Bench Loop trailhead is directly across Zion Canyon Drive from the Court of the Patriarchs Viewpoint. It’s similar in length and elevation gain to the Watchman Trail, but offers views from the west side of the Virgin River deeper into Zion Canyon.

The trail will take you through a diverse landscape of sandstone cliffs, lush vegetation, and sandy washes.

One of the highlights of Sand Bench Trail is reaching an overlook that provides panoramic views of Zion Canyon below. This vantage point is perfect for taking photos or simply soaking in the natural beauty of this iconic national park.

9. Grotto Trail

  • Distance: 1.2 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 78 feet
  • Shuttle: The Grotto
  • AllTrails Link
Grotto Trail Bridge

The Grotto Trail is arguably the easiest hike in Zion National Park. Despite its short length, it delivers beautiful views of the Virgin River, as well as wildlife viewing possibilities. Keep your eyes peeled for deer!

For a gentle stroll along the Virgin River, walk the Grotto Trail. Start The Grotto shuttle stop and walk 0.6 miles Zion Lodge. Here, you can pick up a shuttle to your next destination, or return the way you came.

10. Virgin River Walk

  • Distance: 1 mile
  • Elevation Gain: 70 feet
  • Shuttle: Big Bend
  • AllTrails Link

The Virgin River Walk trail is a hidden gem in Zion Canyon. It starts at the Big Bend shuttle stop, and follows the Virgin River to a viewpoint overlooking the bend. The scenic view is just a short walk from the shuttle stop, or you can “through-hike” the trail to the Weeping Rock shuttle stop.

Note: Weeping Rock has closed several times over the last few years due to rock fall and landslides. Check the national park website for current status.

11. Timber Creek Overlook Trail

The Timber Creek Overlook Trail is an excellent short and easy hike in the Kolob Canyon section of Zion National Park. Kolob Canyon is substantially less visited than Zion Canyon, so you can enjoy a bit of serenity on this off-the-beaten-path trail.

Kolob Canyon is not part of the Zion shuttle system, which only runs in Zion Canyon, so you can self-drive and park at the trailhead for this hike.

The trail ascends gently, leading to an overlook with 360-degree views of Kolob Canyon.

12. Lower Clear Creek (The Hobbit Hole)

  • Distance: 1.3 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 147 feet
  • Shuttle Not Needed
  • AllTrails Link

For a unique slot canyon hike (with a little bit of water in the springtime), check out the easy Lower Clear Creek hike to The Hobbit Hole. The Southwest is famous for its unique slot canyons, narrow canyons with smooth curvy walls just wide enough to walk through. The Narrows, for example, is the most famous slot canyon in Zion National Park. The Narrows is a fantastic hike, but can be quite long and difficult. So if you’re looking for an easier option, Lower Clear Creek is a great choice!

The Clear Creek trailhead is on the Zion – Mt. Carmel Highway, which is not part of the Zion Shuttle system. You should plan to drive and park at the trailhead.

Important! Never attempt to hike in a slot canyon if any rain is in the forecast. Slot canyons are prone to flash flooding which can be fatal!

The Watchman Trail at Sunrise

Tips for Easy Hikes in Zion

  • Entrance Fee: Zion National Park charges a $35 per vehicle entrance fee. If you plan on visiting 3 or more national parks in a 12 month period, we highly recommend getting a National Parks Pass. This will save you money by giving you free entrance to all US national park sites.

 >>> Buy your National Parks Pass from REI here

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  • For hikes in Zion Canyon, you will need to either 1) take the free shuttle from the visitor center, or 2) ride a bike. We loved biking Zion Canyon and recommend it over riding the shuttle!
Tim and Sarah on the Watchman Trail

What to Pack for Easy Hikes in Zion National Park

Although these are easy hikes in Zion, it still pays to be prepared. Here is what you should bring for hiking in Zion National Park.

Essential Gear:

  1. Hiking Backpack: A comfortable, appropriately sized backpack to carry your gear.
  2. Water Bottles or Hydration System: Bring plenty of water to stay hydrated throughout your hike.
  3. Map and Compass/GPS: Ensure you have a reliable navigation system to stay on course.
  4. Sun Protection: Sunglasses, sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher), and a wide-brimmed hat to shield from the sun.
  5. First Aid Kit: Include essentials like bandages, antiseptic wipes, pain relievers, and blister treatment.

Clothing:

  1. Moisture-Wicking Clothing: Lightweight, breathable clothing to keep you cool and dry.
  2. Sturdy Hiking Boots or Shoes: Comfortable footwear with good traction for navigating varied terrain.
  3. Socks: Moisture-wicking socks to prevent blisters.
  4. Layered Clothing: Bring layers to adjust to changing weather conditions, including a lightweight jacket or fleece.
  5. Rain Gear: Pack a waterproof jacket or poncho in case of rain showers.
  6. Hat and Gloves: Extra warmth for cooler temperatures at higher elevations.

Food and Snacks:

  1. Trail Snacks: High-energy snacks like trail mix, energy bars, nuts, and dried fruit.
  2. Electrolyte Drinks: Consider bringing electrolyte-replenishing drinks or tablets for longer hikes.

Miscellaneous Items:

  1. Camera: Capture memories of your hike and the stunning scenery. We shoot with the Sony a7iii and absolutely love it! Check out all of our camera gear here.
  2. Trash Bag: Pack out all trash to help preserve the beauty of the park.
  3. Ziplock Bags: Useful for storing snacks, trash, or protecting electronics from moisture.
  4. Headlamp or Flashlight: Essential for early morning or late afternoon hikes, or in case of emergencies. Don’t forget batteries!

Optional Extras:

  1. Trekking Poles: Provide stability and reduce strain on knees during steep ascents or descents.
  2. Insect Repellent: Protect against mosquitoes and other biting insects, especially in warmer months.

Where to Stay Near Zion National Park

Here are some recommended hotels in Springdale, the town just outside of the main entrance with convenient access to the best easy hikes in Zion National Park.

Use the map below to search for more accommodation in Springdale, Utah!

More Utah Travel Guides

Don’t miss these guides to Utah!

>>> Planning to visit more Utah National Parks? Buy the Utah National Parks Road Trip Map here

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