Distance (round-trip)

1 mi

Time

1 hrs

Elevation Gain

140 ft

Season

Spring
Summer
Fall

Weather

A mile-long hike near the park’s eastern entrance, the Canyon Overlook Trail is a wonderful introduction to Zion Canyon (or a nice look back on your way out, too). This short but fun trail will take you over slickrock, above slot canyons, and into some small alcoves before giving you a phenomenal view of the canyon floor from the east.

Just to the east of the park’s eastern entrance, on the way to Mount Carmel Junction, there’s a short but sweet trail right next to the historic Zion – Mt. Carmel Tunnel called the Canyon Overlook Trail. If you’re on your way into the park, it will give you a good introduction to the geography and geology of the region – and if you’re on your way out it’s a nice way to gaze one last time at one of the most beautiful places in the country.

The trail starts right before the eastern entrance to the tunnel. Look for a trailhead sign and a set of stairs cut into the rock.

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After a steep climb, the trail remains relatively level. Almost immediately, the canyon opens up into some dramatic, otherworldly landscapes … even though you can’t actually see Zion Canyon until the end of the trail.

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For such a short and relatively easy route, the Canyon Overlook Trail passes a stunning variety of landscapes. You’ll meander past deep slot canyons, cling to slickrock walls, and duck under some gnarled pinon pines – all while soaking in the amazing red rock landscape around you. There is one very short section where you’ll have to cross a small wooden plank bridge into an alcove. If you’re extremely nervous about heights, you might have to take a few deep breaths but it’s nothing to be afraid of.

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After a short distance, the trail comes upon a small slickrock slope. Climb this final obstacle and your reward is a phenomenal view of the canyon floor below you (and the switchbacks of the Zion – Mt. Carmel Highway, too!).

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Return back the way you came – making sure you take time to notice any hidden gems the desert might be showing off along the way.

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Note: The Zion – Mt. Carmel Tunnel was built in the 1920s and cannot accommodate some oversized vehicles. If you have a large vehicle, you will have to pay an additional fee to have the tunnel closed to two-way traffic for you. During the winter months, you’ll have to make this request before your arrival. Visit the Park’s Tunnel Site for more info.

Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Modern Hiker, Author of "Day Hiking Los Angeles," Walking Meditator, Native Plant Enthusiast.

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1 Comment

Julia

Julia Jun 2, 2013 06:06

Nice pictures. This is a great way to introduce hikers to some rich geography and terrain. Seems like a fantastic trail to start breaking in some new hiking boots

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