Observation Point and Hidden Canyon
Key information: Observation Point and Hidden Canyon
- Observation Point sits on the eastern rim of the main Zion canyon, with outstanding views down the canyon.
- The 2,000 ft climb to the point is a stunningly good walk.
- Walkopedia rating95
- Natural interest18
- Human interest4
- Negative points2
- Total rating95
- Length: 4-5hrs
- Maximum Altitude: 1,984m
- Level of Difficulty: Strenuous
This a stunningly good walk.
Observation Point sits on the eastern rim of the main Zion canyon, at 1,984m (6,508ft), more than 2,000ft above the canyon floor, with outstanding views down the canyon.
From the floor, you can’t see how the trail could find its way up above its sheer walls, but it is superbly constructed and does just that, in just under 12km (7.5 miles) for the round trip.
The trail begins quite steeply, so you will quickly get into a steady plod, but it is a superbly constructed and graded series of switchbacks, so it isn’t a painful experience. You are immediately enjoying gorgeous views across the drama of the inner canyon to Angel’s Landing, and, closer by, the Weeping Rock.
The right turn to Hidden Canyon is a mile or so up the path. Hidden Canyon is a rather amazing, very narrow slot canyon which penetrates the eastern wall near Cable Mountain. It is only really visible from the upper reaches of Observation Point route. Climb switchbacks up away for the Observation Point trail, then wind across a trail, exposed in places, chiseled into slickrock before entering the extraordinary, sheer-sided Hidden Canyon. You can walk up the canyon a bit. There is a lovely arch in the right-hand side (looking upstream). 1hr each way from the Zion canyon floor. Beware of flash floods, check the weather beforehand. If you can, add on the one hour round walk from the junction to Hidden Canyon to an Observation Point walk – but it is best done on the return journey from Observation Point, when you will know how your timing is looking and your legs are feeling. A 4km walk gaining 1,150ft if done on its own.
Beyond the Hidden Canyon junction, you turn into Echo Canyon. The trail flattens out for some way, as you enjoy the extraordinary patterns on the sandstone walls across from you, each layer lying at a different angle from its neighbours. Directly ahead is the sheer orange face of Cable Mountain. (Some people walk this far – 4.5km return, 255m/850ft climb.)
Next is a narrow gorge and a section where the path runs through a dynamited gallery above an inner slot canyon. You emerge into a bigger gorge; then climb into a magnificent upper bowl surrounded by cliffs of vivid sandstone and studded with pines and scrub.
At the junction with the East Rim Trail, you turn left to address the long series of switchbacks which gets you to the highest flanks of the canyon, swinging west to bring you to a series of ever-better views as the whole of inner Zion appears below you. You run out of superlatives, but not wonder.
Next is a balcony walk – Walkopedia loves balconies – just below the high plateau edge round for maybe a mile to the top and on through attractive scrub and the carcasses of burnt trees.
Observation Point is enthroned above a bend in the canyon, directly across from the now diminutive-looking Angel’s Landing. The canyon marches away to the south between the smooth, vividly coloured, banded cliffs and grand sentinel-peaks that line both its flanks.
Return the way you came. Consider a detour to Hidden Canyon.
Try to walk in early morning or late afternoon for the best light.
Zion is heavily visited, and this is one of its great trails, so you won’t be alone here. Quite a lot of concreting of the trail is inevitable, and a bit depressing to the purist.
This is demanding walking in mountains with unpredictable weather. Come fully prepared.
The Grand Canyon with Zion and Bryce Canyon NPs – Cicerone: excellent, includes all relevant practical information. Recommended. Find relevant books on Amazon.
See our Zion National Park page for more general and practical information and photos.
WILLIAM MACKESY'S ACCOUNT
of this walk
The trail begins quite steeply, so we are soon plodding steadily upward, but it is superbly constructed and graded, so it isn’t a painful experience. We are immediately enjoying gorgeous views across the drama of the inner canyon to Angel’s Landing, and, closer by, the Weeping Rock.
We zig-zag up the steep canyon side, past the turn to Hidden Canyon, to a corner where we turn away from the lower flanks of the main Zion canyon, into a side canyon. The trail flattens out for some way, so we have leisure to enjoy the extraordinary patterns on.....READ MORE
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Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk.
Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.
Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.
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