Zion National Park ranks high on travel bucket lists in part because of its remarkable hiking trails. There are more than 50 different trails at Zion National Park that range in length and difficulty.
With so many options, it’s difficult to choose the top five hikes in Zion, but we’ve selected a few of the most popular hiking trails with different lengths and difficulty levels to help you get started planning your trip to Zion National Park. No matter what kind of hiking you enjoy doing, Zion has something for you.
Hiking in Zion National Park
Before hiking in Zion, there are a few things you should be aware of.
First, Zion is an incredibly popular National Park, so the trails get crowded at times. Plan to begin hiking early in the day to avoid crowds on the most popular trails. If you have to take the shuttle to reach a trail, factor in that time when planning.
Second, it’s important to make sure that you have enough water, use sunscreen, and are appropriately dressed while on the trails. Even easy trails can be dangerous if you aren’t prepared. We have a guide on what to bring to Zion National Park to help you make sure that you are ready for your visit.
Third, pay attention to alerts issued by the National Park Service. Certain trails may not be safe depending on weather conditions. It’s important to pay attention to alerts to avoid putting yourself into a dangerous situation.
Now that you know a little about what to expect, let’s talk about the top hikes in Zion National Park.
Located near the east entrance of Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel, Canyon Overlook is a moderate, 1 mile hike. This short hike overlooks Zion Canyon and gives hikers great views of just how big the canyon actually is. While there are several drop-offs that are fenced in, the trail is mostly family-friendly.
Due to the short length and the incredible views, Canyon Overlook is the perfect hike for days when you want to hike and still have time and energy left to do other things at Zion. The views and natural beauty on this hike are just as stunning as they are on more difficult hikes in Zion National Park.
You will need a car to access this hike because the park’s shuttle doesn’t stop near the entrance. If you’re bringing a vehicle to Zion National Park, see our suggestions for the top 5 drives to do in Zion.
One of the most popular hiking trails in the park, the Narrows trail follows a section of the North Fork Virgin River through the Zion Canyon Narrows where erosion has worn a path through the Navajo sandstone walls. The hike is rated moderately strenuous and is 9.4 miles round-trip. You’ll need hiking shoes that can get wet as well as a hiking pole or staff to make your way through the river.
The scenery on this hike is spectacular, and the cool water is especially appealing on a hot summer day. Most hikers only go a few miles and then turn back rather than going the entire hike. Going even just a short way on this trail, which is arguably one of the coolest hikes in the entire National Park System, is an incredible experience.
If you are only able to do one hike while at Zion National Park, hiking a portion of the Narrows would be our first suggestion.
This classic Zion National Park trail follows a small stream that collects in a series of pools as it flows. The trail leads to three Emerald Pools–Upper, Middle, and Lower. While these pools aren’t actually emerald in color, they are both impressive and peaceful. Plus, the views along the way are beautiful as well.
The trail is technically made up of three smaller trails. The Lower Emerald Pool Trail is a 1.2 mile hike that’s rated as easy. The Middle Emerald Pool Trail (2 miles round-trip) and the Upper Emerald Pool Trail (1 mile round-trip) are both rated as moderate hikes. The trail does get more difficult as it progresses.
You can stop and turn around at any point during the hike, but Upper Emerald Pool is absolutely stunning to see with cliffs that rise 300 feet above the water. It’s one of the most tranquil places in the park even when there are other visitors around.
Hiking doesn’t have to be strenuous to be fun. This trail is an easy 3.5 mile round-trip hike that offers stunning views of the peaks and cliffs of the main canyon. The trail is paved which makes it accessible for most people, and it’s the only trail in Zion National Park where dogs and bicycles are allowed. The trail has river access points that are perfect for cooling off when the temperature heats up.
Pa’Rus offers hikers great views in return for minimal effort, so there’s really no reason to skip this pleasant hike while you’re at Zion. Be aware that this hike will probably be crowded because it’s such an easy, accessible hike.
There’s no way to talk about hiking in Zion National Park without mentioning Angels Landing. This is the most iconic, well-known hike in the entire park. The trail includes 21 steep switchbacks up to Scout’s Lookout. Then, a chain rail helps hikers up the last 500-foot vertical climb to reach the summit. Hikers are rewarded with stunning views of Zion Canyon after all of the work.
Not surprisingly, this 5.4 round-trip hike is rated as strenuous. Adventurous hikers love this trail, but it’s best avoided if you aren’t a fan of heights.
Be aware that beginning April 1, 2022, hikers will need a permit for this trail. This change is intended to help space out hikers and keep the trail from becoming too crowded in order to make the trail safer for everyone. If you want to hike Angels Landing during your visit to Zion, go to the National Park Service’s website for further information.
FAQ about Hiking in Zion National Park
Is hiking in Zion hard?
Zion has many trails ranging from easy to strenuous, so while some trails are hard to hike, others are easy. It’s possible to enjoy great views while sticking to just the easy hikes. Of course, you should always be dressed appropriately and have enough water even when hiking trails rated easy by the Nation Park Service.
What are easy hikes in Zion?
Pa’rus and the Lower Emerald Pool Trail are both trails in Zion that are easy to hike. Pa’rus trail is the most accessible trail in the park, and both trails offer beautiful views for hikers.
When should you not hike The Narrows?
Due to snowmelt and run-off, the Narrows is usually not open in the spring. The National Park Service will also issue warnings to avoid the Narrows when rainfall is expected to lower the risk of hikers becoming trapped if the river rises. Pay attention to the information provided by the National Park Service before hiking the Narrows.
Can beginners hike Zion?
With so many trails available, beginners can find plenty of trails to hike at Zion. Pa’rus trail and the Lower Emerald Pool Trail are easy to hike. The Riverside Walk that leads to the Narrows is also a pleasant hike for beginners.
How hard is hiking the Narrows?
Hiking the entire 16 miles of the Narrows is difficult, but just hiking a portion of the Narrows is fairly easy. Hikers who start at the access from the Riverside Walk can just hike as far as they feel comfortable before turning around.
Planning Your Visit to Zion National Park
As you can see, Zion has a wide range of hiking opportunities for guests in the park. You could spend days in the park and not manage to make it to all of the beautiful trails. It’s no wonder that Zion is such a popular National Park or that guests return to the park over and over again. Zion National Park really is for everyone.
Hopefully this guide to the top five hikes in Zion National Park has helped you get an idea of which hikes you want to take while visiting the park. If you’re still planning your trip, take a look at our guide to the top five must-sees in Zion National Park.