across Zion Canyon from the top of Cable Mountain
16.4 miles (plus 15 miles by car)
1: 4 1/2 hours
2: 5 1/2 hours
1,190 ft. gain, 2,560 ft. loss
Entrance Trailhead (start): 5,720 ft.
Mountain: 6,500 ft.
point: 6,910 ft.
Rock Trailhead: 4,350 ft.
Very popular, well maintained trail
Late spring through mid-fall. The higher parts
of the trail are usually covered with snow
from mid-November to May. For current conditions
call the Visitor Center, Zion National Park,
at (801) 772-3256.
Zion National Park
National Park is probably the best all around
hiking area in the state of Utah. The trails
here are very popular, so if it is solitude
you are looking for this is the wrong place.
But you will certainly find plenty of breathtaking
scenery and interesting geological formations.
The East Rim Trail, especially when walked
in the direction suggested here, is a very
pleasant way to sample what Zion has to offer.
Very little climbing is required, the temperatures
are not extreme, and the scenery just keeps
getting better and better all the way to the
From the East
Entrance Trailhead the hike begins by following
Clear Creek for about 1.5 miles and then turns
north into Cave Canyon. You will soon notice
that much of the trail is along an old wagon
road. Before Zion National Park was created
this area was used extensively by ranchers
and loggers. Once it reaches Cave Canyon the
trail begins to ascend gradually to the top
of the tableland that surrounds Zion Canyon,
and after another mile it doubles back to
give you a fine view from the mesa top down
into Clear Creek Canyon. From this vantage
point you can easily see the beginning of
the trail, 400 feet below, threading its way
along the side of Clear Creek.
Next, the trail
veers again to the north to get around Jolley
Gulch, and then, free of any further obstacles,
it meanders along the contours of the mesa
in a westerly direction towards Stave Spring.
About 0.1 mile beyond Stave Spring you will
see a fork in the trail, where you should
turn left toward Cable Mountain. Soon you
will cross a small, unnamed stream, beyond
which you might want to begin looking for
a camp site. There are a number of nice spots
along this section of the hike. Please be
aware, however, that you should not camp right
next to the water and you should be out of
site of the trail.
There are two
interesting side trips here to consider, either
after establishing camp on the first day or
before you put on your backpacks on the second
day. Depending on how far from the Stave Spring
trail junction you camped, Cable Mountain
is about 2.0 miles away and Deertrap Mountain
about 2.5 miles.
the most interesting of the two side trips,
is a high promontory, about 2,100 feet above
the Virgin River, with an unimpeded view of
Angels Landing and the West Rim. It is called
Cable Mountain because in the early 1900s,
before Zion National Park was formed, the
Zion Cable Company operated a tram from the
top of Cable Mountain to the bottom of Zion
Canyon. The tram was used primarily for lowering
lumber from the mesa top to the canyon floor
where it was loaded onto wagons and hauled
to nearby towns like Springdale and Rockville.
Quite a bit of the original structure can
still be seen on the edge of the mountain,
although the tram hasnt been operated
for seventy years.
The second side
trip you might want to consider while you
are on the mesa top is the walk to the Deertrap
Mountain. Deertrap, which is situated high
above the Zion Lodge, offers a fine view of
the Court of the Patriarchs and Lady Mountain
on the other side of the Canyon. You can easily
walk to either one of these viewpoints and
back in a couple of hours.
The trail from
Stave Spring to Weeping Rock is one of the
most scenic walks in Zion. It is all downhill
and it is only 5.0 miles. It will only take
a few hours to complete the trip, so if you
havent taken the side trip to Cable
Mountain yet you should definitely do so before
starting down. The trail to Weeping Rock passes
directly beneath Cable Mountain on the way
down, and it is all the more interesting if
you have also seen it from the top.
The trail first
heads north into the back of Echo Canyon,
and then turns west to follow the canyon to
the bottom of Zion. The scenery starts getting
very interesting after about 1.5 miles. Echo
Canyon gets narrower and narrower as you go
down; in places the canyon is only 20 feet
wide, and everywhere there are water-carved
etchings in the rock. Finally the side canyon
breaks out into the main canyon about 500
feet above the Virgin River, and the trail
switchbacks the rest of the way to the bottom.
2.8 miles below Stave Spring there is another
junction where the trail to the East Rim Observation
Point climbs north out of Echo Canyon. Observation
Point offers another possible side trip, but
if you have already been to the top of Cable
Mountain you will note that the view is quite
miles before you reach the bottom there is
still another possible side trip that is quite
worthwhile: the trail into Hidden Canyon.
Hidden Canyon is another narrow slot canyon,
similar to the lower reaches of Echo Canyon,
that protrudes for a little over a mile from
Zion Canyon into the East Rim. Depending on
how much exploring you want to do, it will
take from half an hour to an hour more of
your time to check it out. Note, camping is
not allowed in Hidden Canyon.