Hike the Hidden Canyon Trail in Zion
Utah › East Mesa Trail Trailhead
Added by Kevin Abernethy
This is a great day hike with exposed sections and several areas for optional rock climbing and scrambling in the canyon.
This trail starts at Weeping Rock Trailhead, it's the same trailhead for Observation Point and the East Rim Trail. You will start this hike up a paved section with several switchbacks up the east side of the main canyon. Shortly after the paved trail ends you will reach a sign that directs you towards the Hidden Canyon Trail.
The official Hidden Canyon trail begins with uphill switchbacks that will lead you to top of a minor saddle that gives you an incredible view of Angels Landing, Big Bend, The Organ, and The Virgin River. There is a short trail that will lead you to the tip of the saddle if you want an unobstructed view of the canyon, this cutoff is unmarked and there are several exposed sections. The official trail will then lead you up the canyon wall where you will have several chains bolted to the mountainside to help you traverse up the steep ledge tucked against the mountain wall. Several portions of the trail are very narrow so be cautious of the condition of the trail. You will eventually descend to a shaded valley by using small steps carved out of the mountainside. After moving through the valley you will reach another series of stone steps that will lead you up to a short exposed section on the trail. Be cautious going up and down the stone steps, some of the areas don't have chains to help you and several of the steps are very small. Most of the trail is very narrow, if you are hiking this trail anytime in the winter crampons or ice cleats are a must!
You will now enter the entrance to Hidden Canyon, this is the end of the official trail, but you can hike several miles into the canyon. During your trek you will soon reach a small free standing arch, several obstacles with boulders and rocks to climb over, sandy open sections, and small pools of water to navigate over. My favorite obstacle included a large log to traverse across a small pool of water and two smaller logs to climb up the steep canyon wall. Be cautious on the obstacles you tackle, the hike back is always more difficult than the initial hike into the canyon. You will eventually come to an almost impassible tall overhanging wall, I would recommend turning around at this point.
- Day pack
- First-Aid gear
- If hiking in winter crampons or ice cleats are a must!
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Great day hike
I hiked the Hidden Canyon in the winter but there wasn't any snow like you see in the pictures above, of which I'm thankful. The initial climb was a lot steeper than I expected. Once you get past that section and reach Hidden Canyon it takes you into a little bit of a different world with a cool standing arch and plant life all throughout. Bring a headlamp if you're hiking around sunset as it gets dark pretty quickly.
The hike was fantastic. Gorgeous views the whole way up. Not a super difficult hike to get up to the hidden canyon section. There is a couple of sections with chains but they weren't too bad and felt secure. A good warmup for the chains at Angel's Landing. We hiked up to the actual hidden canyon section which is a couple of miles or so in, and decided to turn around due to weather. Wasn't my favorite hike in the park, but definitely worth doing.
I've always described this place as a giant playground for adventurer's. The guidebook lists Hidden Canyon as one of the hardest places to do rescues in the whole park due to it being too narrow to use Heli's or radio's and just lined with obstacles. The further back you go, the more scrambling and obstacle maneuvering is required. It is not suggested, but it is possible to summit the canyon from the bottom, but requires dangerous scrambles, high chimneys up narrow walls, and lots of bouldering. Be aware if its been a heavy snow year, snow will stack up in the canyon. I have hiked this canyon in May in 90 degree weather and come across 25 ft tall snow walls. That made for very dangerous obstacles. I have had a few near death experiences in Zion and most have taken place in this canyon, so use caution. If doing the top down route, there's 7 rappels and one that is a 100ft rap. Just be careful because there is a lot of scrambling and lots of people twist or break ankles in here.
Response to Comment
Maggie, I did this hike in December of 2015. I went about 2-3 miles in the canyon and I could visually see it would be very difficult to continue on. I also did this on the way down from Observation Point so I was losing daylight. I think this trail is highly underrated so definitely check it out. I strongly encourage you bring a pair of ice cleats (you can purchase them in the visitor center). You will need them for most trails but definitely for the hike into the actual Hidden Canyon, there is no way I would have done this trail without the cleats. You probably did Angel's Landing when you went in September, but I think it is a completely different visual perspective in the Winter. Observation Point is also a must. If you are looking for a leisurely hike I would check out the Sand Beach Trail (great view of the court of patriarchs). I wouldn't do all of the West Rim Trail, but it's nice year round. Best of luck! Let me know how it goes
Hi Kevin, great review. I'm doing the hike next week, what time of the year did you go and how long was the hike? If you have any tips on which hikes to do (at Zion) in February please share them! I was there in September 2015 and did a bunch of hikes but wanted to know which ones are better/suitable for winter time. Thanks a lot!
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