As you know, I was just in Wisconsin for about a month for the holidays. I had all these plans to do all kinds of fun stuff in the area and then it was freezing cold, like below zero the majority of our time there. So all those cool things I wanted to do have to wait for the next trip back.
After that, we came back out to Utah and have been staying near Zion National Park. In total, we’ll be here for three weeks before heading to Moab for a week and a half(ish) and then we’ll finally be back at good old Lake Powell.
One of the first few hikes we did in Zion was the Canyon Overlook Trail. It’s on the east side of the big tunnel, right before you go into the tunnel actually. I never noticed this trail before, which is a little surprising.
I was doing some Googling about Zion and came across a post about it and that was it. I decided this was something I was going to do before I left. So, off we went. It was mid-afternoon when we got to the trailhead and finally set off.
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It’s not a super long or tough hike, but there is a little elevation gain right away. There is also a little bridge going to the “cave” as it’s called. It’s a short little bridge, but it’s a little creaky and I’m not going to lie, I was pretty nervous going over it. I’m not horribly afraid of heights, but little (or big) rickety bridges really get me.
I’d say the bridge is about halfway and from there it’s pretty easy. There are some flat parts, others with a little elevation gain, but nothing crazy. If you’ve done Angels Landing, Observation Point, or Hidden Canyon, this is like, a million times easier than the switchbacks on those.
One thing it does have in common with Angel’s Landing and Observation Point is the view. Yes, it’s a different canyon, but the same gist. At the end, you get to the overlook point and have a wonderful view of Echo Canyon and the switchbacks you just drove up. On your way up, you can see the tunnel windows if you look off to the left at the canyon wall.
We hung out at the top for a bit before heading back down. On our way out, we saw five bighorn sheep walking towards us in the canyon below. They were coming from the little bridge right after the tunnel. We spent almost an hour just watching them below us. They were pretty close and the trail wasn’t super packed, so it was easy to just hang around watching them eat and jump around the rocks.
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Tips for hiking Canyon Overlook Trail:
- A few sections of the trail are a little slippery with light sand on rock, so be careful of that.
- It can be a little muddy or icy on the trail in the winter, too, so watch out for that and be careful if you come to it.
- There is a parking lot for it right before the tunnel (coming from the east) on the left. If you’re coming out of the tunnel (from Zion Canyon) it’s right away on the right. If that’s full, there is another little parking area ahead a bit.
- In the summer it will get super hot here, so drink lots of water and wear lots of sunscreen.
- It’s one-mile roundtrip and should take about an hour to hike the whole thing.
- If you stop a lot for pictures, plan for an hour and a half or two hours.
- Keep an eye out for bighorn sheep! We saw three on the cliff to the right of the final overlook and five on our way out. The three on the cliff were pretty high up and hard to see, but look for their white butts.
Have you hiked Canyon Overlook Trail? What is your favorite hike in Zion?
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