The hike to Hidden Canyon blew away our expectations. This hike is tons of fun, with trails that cling to the side of a cliff and a scenic canyon to explore.
Sections of this hike are similar to Angels Landing, with vertigo-inducing trails that come with chains to help you keep your balance. This trail does not climb as high or have the views like Angels Landing, but Hidden Canyon also gets fewer visitors, which makes for pleasant, less crowded experience.
Tim and I almost skipped this hike because it seemed to be lacking the views that many other trails in Zion have. We added it at the last minute, and I am so glad we did. Hidden Canyon is unexpectedly amazing.
Facts about the Hidden Canyon Hike
Distance: 3 miles
Elevation Gain: 940 ft
Length of Time: 2 to 3 hours
When to go: Year round as long as the trail is free of snow and ice. The best seasons are Spring and Fall.
Trailhead: Weeping Rock (stop #7 on the Zion Shuttle)
Important Note: There are long drop-offs as you hike along the face of a cliff. If you have a fear of heights, you may want to skip this hike.
Hiking to Hidden Canyon
The hike starts at the Weeping Rock Trailhead. Almost immediately, the trail to Weeping Rock breaks off to the left. Continue straight, following the signs for Hidden Canyon, Observation Point, and the East Rim Trail.
The first part of the hike involves a long, somewhat strenuous climb on long switchbacks. At ¾ of a mile, the trail splits. Go right to continue on to Hidden Canyon. If you turn left, you will hike to Observation Point. This is another awesome hike and you have the option to do both of these hikes on the same day. We hiked Hidden Canyon first and then continued up the mountain to Observation Point.
This is the split on the trail. Tim is walking up towards Hidden Canyon. If you continue off the left side of the photo, the trail takes you to Observation Point.
Here is another view of the trail (photo taken on the hike to Observation Point). The series of short switchbacks leads to Hidden Canyon. If you look closely, you can see the narrow trail cut out of the cliff just above the last switchback.
Once you turn right, the switchbacks become steeper and shorter. This part doesn’t last long.
The trail briefly heads into a small tree-filled canyon. After climbing up a stone staircase, the real fun begins.
For us, the highlight of the Hidden Canyon hike was scaling the narrow trail on the edge of the cliff. It’s thrilling and the views from here are amazing.
Inside Hidden Canyon
After the vertiginous cliff trail you will enter Hidden Canyon. This section of the hike stretches into the canyon for about a mile. You can hike as far as you like and then turn around.
There are several spots where rock scrambling is necessary. Trees have fallen across the trail, creating obstacles. We kind of felt like kids again, exploring this shady, quiet canyon, climbing over and under huge trees and rocks. What made our experience even better was that we had the canyon to ourselves. Tim and I were on the first shuttle of the day and we wasted no time hiking to Hidden Canyon.
Venture back into Hidden Canyon as far as you want. The trail does eventually come to an end at a large rock wall. To continue on, you will need canyoneering and rock climbing experience.
Return back the same way you came. You have the option to continue on to Observation Point, another brilliant hike in Zion.
How to Have the Best Experience
Take the First Shuttle of the Day
To avoid the crowds and the midday heat, you should start this hike early. If you can get on the first shuttle of the day, you may have this trail all to yourself, at least for a little bit.
Consider Adding the Hike to Observation Point
Observation Point is a classic Zion hike, ending at a viewpoint high above the valley. From this spot, you can look out over Zion National Park, with a view down to Angels Landing. It’s a gorgeous hike and offers one of the best views of the park.
Hidden Canyon and Observation Point share the same trail for ¾ of a mile (and 500 feet of climbing). If you continue on to Observation Point, you have just 3.25 miles of hiking until you reach the final viewpoint. It’s a strenuous hike but it rewards you for your efforts.
Consider the Hike to Weeping Rock
Weeping Rock is a large, sandstone rock that drips water and is surrounded by a lush garden. This short, fast hike also starts at the Weeping Rock shuttle stop.
What to Bring on the Hike
Hiking Shoes. Hiking shoes are preferable, however, running shoes with good support and good traction are sufficient.
Water. Bring plenty of water, especially if you will be hiking midday or during the warmer months.
Sunscreen. There is very little shade on the trail.
Hiking poles (optional). As I have gotten older, I am having more problems with my knees, especially on hikes with a large descent at the end. Hiking poles are my new favorite hiking gadget and I highly recommend them. They take about 30% of the weight off of your legs as you descend, easing knee pain and other symptoms. I use Black Diamond Distance Z poles and love them. They easily collapse down to fit in your luggage and hiking backpack, plus they are extremely lightweight. The poles come in several sizes, so make sure you pick the right length based on your height.
Post updated June 2018.
Have you been to Zion? What is your favorite hike? Comment below!
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