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Last year I got the National Geographic Secrets of the National Parks book. I didn’t really look through it until I was home recently. When I was looking through it to get ready for our trip to Zion, I saw a hike I hadn’t heard of before. That hike was Hidden Canyon. Once I read about it, I knew I needed to do it.
The hike isn’t super long, but it is so steep in the beginning and has some pretty solid drop-offs. It can be done in a few hours and is the perfect hike for a morning or afternoon. We set off mid-afternoon and got climbing. The trail is at Weeping Rock, the same stop as Observation Point, and starts with a pretty solid set of switchbacks.
I hadn’t done a whole lot of hiking for a while before we got to Zion, so I’m not in the best shape. We got up a couple of the switchbacks and I was ready to turn around. We didn’t. I knew I wanted to do this hike, so I pushed on and stopped a lot on that first part.
It felt like the switchbacks were never going to end and they took so long, but eventually, we made it to the top of those and it was like a walk in the park after that, at least it is if you’re not afraid of heights. Not too long after getting to the top, you start to get to the cliffs.
The trail is a little rocky and sandy, so be careful if your shoes don’t have great traction. When there is a light layer of sand on the rock, it gets pretty slippery. A lot of the of cliff sections have chains, but there are a few that don’t. At this point, you’re making your way around the cliff and into Hidden Canyon.
Once you reach the end of the maintained trail, you need to do a little rock scrambling if you want to keep going. Some of the scrambles will be a little more difficult than others and will look more intimidating than they are from the bottom. Just remember, sometimes it’s harder to get back down these things than it is to go up.
You’ll see a small arch on the right (on your way in) against the canyon wall. There were a few cairns on the ground right before it. Some of the walls are towering above you. Some are covered in moss. Some areas are open and sandy, others are less. Eventually, you will come to the end of the trail, marked with a cute little sign. From here you just turn back and make the hike back out.
This is an awesome hike in Zion, and one of my favorites now, even though I almost didn’t make it up. It has a totally different feel compared to a lot of the other hikes in the park. It doesn’t have the sprawling canyon views like Canyon Overlook, Angel’s Landing, or Observation Point. Instead, you are in the canyon. It’s a good way to switch things up during your Zion trip.
Tips for hiking Hidden Canyon:
- Wear shoes with good traction. This is mainly for the exposed areas. I wore my Chacos and was fine for the most part, but there were a few areas I wished I had better shoes.
- If you’re afraid of heights, this might not be the best trail for you. It’s not exposed on both sides like Angel’s Landing, but it is on one side.
- There are usually chains to hold onto on the exposed areas, but not all of them.
- If you do want to do Angel’s Landing but are worried about the heights, this is a good practice trail. It’s got switchbacks and exposed cliffs. I don’t know if it’s quite as high though.
- If you go in the winter definitely bring layers. The farther back you go into the canyon, the cooler it gets, especially in the later afternoon or evening.
- The trail is 2.4 miles and takes 2-4 hours to hike the whole thing.
Have you hiked Hidden Canyon? Do you prefer hiking into canyons or to overlooks?