This 8-mile out-and-back offers some of Zion's best up-close canyon views and definitely the best birds-eye views in the park. The strenuous 2,148-foot climb from the Weeping Rock Trailhead begins with a steady, switchbacking uphill beneath Cable Mountain's sheer, eastern face. The paved trail climbs 1,000 feet in two miles—skirting steep sandstone walls and abrupt trailside edges—before turning to sand near the mouth of Echo Canyon.
This 10-minute section winds past red-tinted curves in the aptly-named slot and offers a brief respite from the climb. Switchbacks continue as the trail turns uphill again; cruising past rainbow-colored layers on the way to the East Mesa's southern edge and your first sweeping view of Zion Canyon just before mile 3.
The trail is rarely less than 6-feet wide, but exposure on the last mesa-bound climb sends some hikers scurrying back downhill. Watch your footing on these cliff-side switchbacks, but rest assured: the payoff is near. The trail tops the mesa, rolls over sandy desert singletrack and ends at a scrapbook-worthy panoramic lookout with birds-eye views of Zion's sheer canyon walls.
-Mapped by Kristy Holland
- Distance: 13.1
Location: 37.2709537, -112.9393137
Zion's canyon shuttle drops hikers, sightseers, and tripod-toting photographers along the canyon road. To follow this mapped route and the Observation Point Trail, disembark at the Weeping Rock stop and head east through the parking lot.
Location: 37.2703731, -112.9383159
There are pit toilets, handicapped parking, benches, and a map kiosk at the trailhead. After crossing this small footbridge, follow the Observation Point Trail to the right.
Location: 37.2687594, -112.9369211
Stay to the left at this T-junction, following the straighter trail toward Echo Canyon and Observation Point.
Location: 37.2687253, -112.9352045
This stair-stepped switchback interrupts the paved, rugged ramp beneath Cable Mountain.
Location: 37.2706378, -112.9342175
The trail squeezes into Echo Canyon and is lined by sheer sandstone cliffs above (on the right) and below (on the left).
Location: 37.2704328, -112.9325867
This small, metal disc marks the elevation inside the slot canyon at 5,194 feet.
Location: 37.2727134, -112.9322403
After passing above the narrowest part of Echo Canyon and below an overhanging ledge above the trail, the canyon widens and continues switchbacking uphill.
Location: 37.27423, -112.9284932
Continue straight on the well-defined, uphill trail at this 3-way junction. There is room here for a rest break, but the outside switchback corners up ahead have better views of the slot canyon below.
Location: 37.2751966, -112.930235
This switchback corner rounds the south side of the mesa edge and offers the first panoramic views of Zion Canyon. The trail leading uphill from this point is exposed and scary for some hikers unused to scaling such heights. To stay safe, keep your eyes on the trail while moving and stay clear of the cliffside edges.
Location: 37.2769726, -112.931385
After the final rocky switchbacks, the trail turns away from the edge of the hillside about 0.75 mile from Observation Point.
Location: 37.2810492, -112.9366028
The climbing is over by the time you reach this Y-junction. Stay to the left to follow the sandy trail west and south. This high-desert landscape is a dramatic change from the cliffside trail you've left behind.
Location: 37.2782924, -112.9403508
Observation Point: This picnic-worthy point high above the canyon floor offers epic views of Zion Canyon's dramatic sandstone features. The point itself is often crowded, but equally stunning views can be had at more private picnic spots on the mesa edge to the north.
Location: 37.2707061, -112.9385519
Signs near the trailhead warn of potentially dangerous trail conditions. Be diligent with your footing and stand clear of cliff edges. © Bo Bergman
Location: 37.2710817, -112.9321361
Though GPS reception is unreliable in this narrow, canyon environment, the trail is signed and easy to follow. © Kristy Holland
Location: 37.2714574, -112.9323721
This 50-yard section of trail passes under a sandstone overhang and above a steep slot canyon. © Bo Bergman
Location: 37.2731649, -112.9311919
Hikers cross this short, concrete bridge heading toward Observation Point. © Kristy Holland
Location: 37.2738821, -112.9284883
The trail climbs out of Echo Canyon and winds uphill along the mesa's east side. © Kristy Holland
Location: 37.2756578, -112.9286599
The trail crisscrosses this dramatic sandstone face several times as it switchbacks toward Observation Point. © Kristy Holland
Location: 37.275231, -112.9301083
Just before mile 3, you'll approach your first south-facing views of Zion Canyon. Look left for a peek at the switchbacking trail below Cable Mountain. © Bo Bergman
Location: 37.2757603, -112.9307628
The trailside exposure on this section can be a little scary. Watch your footing and stay close to the trail's uphill edge. © Bo Bergman
Location: 37.2788849, -112.9403973
Watch your step near the mesa edge. These sandstone cliffs fall thousands of feet toward the canyon floor. © Bo Bergman
Location: 37.278219, -112.9400539
This USGS marker atop Observation Point is more than 2,100 feet above the canyon floor. © Bo Bergman
Location: 37.2781507, -112.9402256
The view of Zion Canyon from Observation Point features the Great White Throne (to the left) and Cable Mountain (on the right). © Bo Bergman