Hidden Canyon: Zion National Park’s Must-Do Underrated Hike

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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What to bring to Hidden Canyon in Zion

Hiking poles – These will be helpful on longer hikes that are on the steeper side.  They’ll be good if you have bad knees for when you’re going downhill and will give you something to lean on going up the hills.

Snacks – These are more important for long hikes, but you never know when you’ll get hungry!  I like EPIC bars (kind of like beef jerky but different), Sahale nut mix things, and Moon Cheese.  There’s always the good old Clif Bars and trail mix, too.

Water bottle – It’ll be hot and humid and you’ll need to stay hydrated.  A Hydro Flask will keep your water ice cold all day long.

Sunscreen – If you plan on being outside, you’ll want sunscreen.  I like the Neutrogena a lot, but if you’ll be visiting a beach soon, you’ll want a reef-safe sunscreen.

Hat – You’ll want some kind of hat to keep the sun out of your eyes.  A baseball hat should be fine but a bucket hat or sun hat could help keep the sun off your neck.

Sunglasses – This is a must, especially with the strong desert sun.  Sunglasses are best paired with a hat on those really bright days.

Light Jacket – Because you just never know.  Weather can change quickly depending on where you are and especially higher on the mountain.  I usually use my rain jacket for this.

Headlamp – I tend to carry my headlamp around all the time when we’re hiking.  This isn’t the exact one I have, but it’s similar and if I needed to replace mine, I’d probably get this one.

Cozy Sweatshirt – I have a few different Patagonia sweatshirts and love them all.  They’re great for layering in cold weather.  I have two Re-tools, a Better Sweater, and a Synchilla.  Sometimes you can find them on sale on REI or Backcountry.  I also like to keep an eye out for them on Poshmark (use code REDAROUNDWORLD for $10 off your first purchase) and Mercari (you can save $10 with that link as well!)  I’ve found some really good deals on both.

For Camping

Tent – I love the REI Passage 2 tent for one or two people.  It’s small and fairly light.  If you need a four-person tent, I’d go with this one, the REI Half DomeYou can check out my tent here.

Sleeping pad – Gotta make the tent comfy!  The one I have isn’t available anymore but this one is similar.  It’s self-inflating and just needs a little help filling all the way.  Buy the sleeping pad here.

Sleeping Bag – I have the Nemo Viola 35 and love it because it’s not as restrictive as the mummy bags.  It has ventilation slits for those warmer nights.  Check out my sleeping bag here.

Puffy quilt – If you’re a really warm sleeper and visiting in the summer, a puffy quilt might be a better option.  I prefer this for hotter nights.  Check out the Rumpl camp quilts here.

Pillow – If you’re just driving, I’d just bring a regular pillow, but if you’re flying then renting a car, you might want a smaller pillow.  This is a good non-inflatible option.  Here is a good inflatable option.

Camp chairs – If you plan on doing a lot of camping outside of this trip, and backpacking especially, the REI Flexlite chairs are great choices.  Check out the camp chairs here.

Lantern – I love having a lantern for in the tent at night, reading in the dark, or going to the bathroom in the middle of the night.  The LuminAID is my favorite and you can charge your phone on it.  Buy the LuminAID lantern here.

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Where is Hidden Canyon in Zion?

You’ll find the Hidden Canyon trail at the Weeping Rock shuttle stop.  You’ll get on the same trail that goes to Observation Point, but it will split on the switchbacks and you’ll go to the right around the wall of the canyon then back into it.

How long is the Hidden Canyon trail?

The Hidden Canyon trail is 3 miles round-trip with 940 feet of elevation gain.  It is a moderate hike, but if you’re not used to steep switchbacks, the beginning may be tough.  It’s totally worth it, though.  I would plan 2-3 hours for the whole thing.

Other awesome things to do in Zion National Park

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Where to stay near Zion National Park

There are plenty of places to stay near Zion perfect for all budgets.  I usually stay in Hurricane or La Verkin, but Springdale and St. George, even Kanab, are other really great options depending on what else in the area you want to see.

La Verkin

We stayed at a cute little Airbnb on our last visit that was super affordable and great if you’re on a budget.  They have two rooms available, one for two people and the other for three.  There are plenty of other Airbnb’s in La Verkin, too.  There are a couple hotels, but not much.  I would either go with the La Quinta or the Best Western Plus.

Hurricane

While there are plenty of Airbnb’s in Hurricane, I haven’t stayed at any of those yet.  I usually stay at the Rodeway Inn but there are tons of others to choose from.  There are a few more food options here than in La Verkin, but less than St. George.  It’s a good middle-ground.

Springdale

I haven’t stayed in Springdale yet, but definitely want to!  It’s just outside of the park making it super easy to go in and out since it’s so close.  You can find tons of Airbnb’s and plenty of hotels as well.  It is a little more expensive due to park proximity.

St. George

St. George is another great place to stay with tons of food options, Airbnb’s, and hotels.  Plus, it’s close to Snow Canyon State Park and Sand Hollow State Park!  It’s a little further from the park, but it’s still worth the drive if you like having lots of options.  It’s less than an hour to the park.

Kanab

I haven’t stayed in Kanab before but it’s perfect if you want to explore the Vermillion Cliffs or Coyote Buttes.  It’s close to Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park and is where you can try for a permit for The Wave.  There are more hotels than I was expecting and quite a few Airbnb’s for the size of the town, so there is plenty to choose from here, too.

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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.
  • If you plan on visiting multiple parks as part of this trip or within a year, definitely get a National Park Pass.  You can purchase them ahead of time from REI or at thee parks.

Have you hiked Hidden Canyon?  Do you prefer hiking into canyons or to overlooks?

8 thoughts on “Hidden Canyon: Zion National Park’s Must-Do Underrated Hike

      1. I can believe it! My boyfriend was very nervous, especially around the parts without chains

  1. We did this hike in late May 2017, after coming down from Observation Point. It was terrific. We saw a big owl in a tree in Hidden Canyon (maybe a Great Horned, not sure).

    1. Thats awesome! I can’t wait to do Observation Point. Just need to get in better shape first haha

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