Zion National Park – East Rim Trail

Zion National Park East Rim Trail

Let a peaceful hike on the East Rim Trail in Zion National Park take you away from the crowds below to the beauty which lies above the canyon walls.

Chris & Mac of Grey Otter Outventures

Chris & Mac
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Length:  14.08 Miles Round Trip*
Trailhead(s):  Zion East Entrance Trailhead
Elevation Gain:  1,547’
Trail Type:  Out & Back
Dogs:  Not Allowed
Difficulty:  Moderate
Permit Required?  Yes – National Park Entry Fee $35
Considerations:  Summer Heat/Winter Snow
Season:  Year Round

*Due to a significant rockfall from Cable Mountain, the East Rim Trail is closed between the Weeping Rock Trailhead and the Observation Point Trail.


Take a peaceful hike on the East Rim Trail in Zion National Park to escape the crowds in the main canyon below.


An Adventure Awaits

Utah’s first national park is an outdoor enthusiasts paradise, beckoning adventurers of all ages and abilities to explore its sedimentary cliffs, arches, and canyons.  Alternatively, for those just wanting to see the enormity of the immense walls of the main canyon and its unmatched beauty, riding the shuttle buses from the Visitor Center to the Temple of Sinawava can’t be beat.  However, even though the shuttle tour is fantastic, we highly recommend getting off the buses to experience the canyon first hand.

Avoid the Crowds

Shuttle buses which access the farthest reaches of Zion’s main canyon stop to let visitors off and on at the trailheads.  As a result, they are often heavily trafficked during peak visitation when the park is crowded.  Visitors find parking lots and shuttles are full, and that they have lots of company for their explorations on popular trails.  As such, we also want to encourage you to get off the beaten path and take the opportunity to explore Zion’s many other hidden wonders.  One of these often overlooked gems is the East Rim Trail, accessed near the east entrance of Zion National Park.


Peaceful Hike

A hike on the Zion National Park East Rim Trail lets hikers get away from the crowds of the main canyon to relish the extraordinary beauty of the landscape which lies above the canyon walls.  Though it is a long hike, most of it is not difficult, has great scenery to view, and is wonderfully peaceful.  For example, we got to the trailhead before 10 am and encountered only a handful of other hikers and a couple of backpackers in late October.  Honestly, it was a total treat to have this beautiful place essentially to ourselves, to enjoy its grace and quiet, and be humbled by its majesty.

Hike to Jolly Gulch

The East Rim Trail starts off sandy and remains so through most of the hike through the Cave Canyon wash.  More annoying than difficult, it comes and goes throughout the hike.  After about a mile of walking through Cave Canyon’s entrancingly soft beauty, the trail takes hikers to the plateau above the canyon.  Views looking into and out over Cave Canyon are superb.  However they go away fairly quickly as the trail works its way deeper into the park to reveal the beautiful scenery which lies above the rim.
About three miles from the trailhead, the white walls of Jolly Gulch loom large.  The scene is gorgeous.  Even though it is a six mile round trip, the hike to and from Jolly Gulch is not overly strenuous.  As such, it is family friendly.

Jolly Gulch to Echo Canyon

After Jolly Gulch the East Rim Trail climbs steadily and easily through an uninteresting plateau before descending steeply into a meadow near Stave Spring.  With only a junction with the trail leading to Cable Mountain there is nothing much to note here, so just push on straight ahead through the desert scrub.  Before long, Echo Canyon will begin revealing itself.

Echo Canyon

Skirting the edge of Echo Canyon, the East Rim Trail works its way toward Zion’s main corridor.  Partial views lure hikers onto paths leading off the main trail for views into Echo Canyon.  With interest tweaked, hikers return to the trail to follow the contours of the rim of Echo Canyon.  The trail soon starts descending, and to our surprise provided amazing views of Angel’s Landing and the plateau on the other side of the main canyon.  Mind fully blown!  The rugged, exquisite beauty of Zion from this vantage point is incredible, and includes the bare red rock switchbacks of the Observation Point Trail.

Trails End?

All too soon the trail begins to swiftly descend in earnest.  Those heading to Observation Point will descend to the Observation Point Trail.  For everyone else, unless a hefty climb back up is desired, the journey back begins (see important changes below).  Since we were over 7 miles from the trailhead and going further down did not to offer better views, this is as far as we went.  A lovely rock outcropping overlooking Echo Canyon was thus our lunch venue before we reluctantly bade farewell to this gorgeous, quiet, peaceful spot.

Important Changes

Once a popular 10+ mile shuttle hike, rockfall has closed the Weeping Rock portion of trail leading down to the Weeping Rock Trailhead.  The closure means that all day hikes on this trail are now out and back. 

Scroll down to learn about the GEAR WE USE and OTHER OUTVENTURES in this area.


East Rim Trail Slideshow

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Gear We Use for Day Hiking

To see descriptions of the gear Chris & Mac use for day hiking, as well as links to manufacturers and retailers offering the gear for sale, please CLICK HERE.

Hiking Angel's Landing in Southern Utah

Articles About Other Regional Outventures

Click below to learn about other regional outventures in this area.

SAFETY DISCLAIMER:  The activities discussed in this website are outdoor activities and, as such, have inherent risks to which participants are exposed.  It is not the intent of this website, nor is it possible due to the variability of weather, terrain, equipment, and experience, to detail all of those risks.  The information contained in this site is informational, but not instructive nor exhaustive.  It is the sole responsibility of the user to ensure he/she is in good health, fully prepared, and fully informed as to dangers before undertaking any of the activities discussed in this website and the user does so at his/her own risk.  The user understands that by using this website he/she acknowledges and accepts all risks associated with use of information from this website and participation in any particular activity addressed herein.  Please see “Terms of Use” for additional information.

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