I finally made it to Zion. This is a hiking trip that has been planned a few times this year, and has regrettably had to be cancelled. So, given the year is quickly running out on us, I decided to make the trip, albeit, still ended up shorter than I originally planned. Leading up to a hiking trip like this, I often reserve doing the research until I know I am 100% going. So, it wasn’t until two nights before I realized just how cold it would be during the two hiking days I planned on.
The first day, upon arriving in Utah, I went to Kanaraville Falls. I will certainly be blogging about this hike at another date, but even the stifling cold water you have to hike through to reach the falls, didn’t stop or slow me down from seeing this wonder.
Because of the chilly temperatures, I decided camping could best be ventured at another time and stayed with hiking friend and fellow adventurer, Breanne, whose folks live right near the park as well as other great hiking trails including Red Cliffs State Park. We decided we would go big and see as many views as we could by hiking Observation Point. While most people visiting the park opt for Angels Landing, we decided against it for a few reasons, one being the bits of slick ice we were warned about by other hikers in the area just before us. If you have never seen a video of the narrow and steep trail to Angels Landing, take a look. I am confident there will be plenty of other opportunities to do this hike in better conditions.
We started from the Weeping Rock Trailhead, which also meets up with the popular Hidden Canyon trail where most people seemed to venture off to on this day. There are a few different ways to reach Observation Point, and we chose this starting location and took the East Rim Trail to the top. The hike starts out at 4,500 feet and over four miles you gain 2,600 feet to views of the entire valley in Zion National Park. This is definitely not a highly trafficked hike as compared to others in the park and on this day in particular we only passed two pairs of other hikers once we got on the East Rim Trail. For those of you who frequent the National Parks for hiking, you all know what a rarity and dream it is to feel like you have the trail to yourself.
Although I started this hike with a base layer, vest and two jackets at just one mile from the top I was down to just the base layer, hiking comfortable and excitedly to the top. With every turn and switchback, the views changed and the blankets of snow throughout just added to Zion’s already natural and overwhelming beauty. The trail is easy to follow, well maintained and as you go up, the moments of wow just seem to increase.
Just before you arrive at the summit rim, you hit a red dirt path, where we avoided the patches of ice, and on this day, just as our hike to the top was coming to an end, it began to snow on us. We were no longer cold, and just in awe of the sweeping views we had of the park (and Angels Landing) far below us. We spent an ample amount of time at the top, mostly by ourselves and some chipmunks hell bent on hunting down the food we had in our packs.
For those of you hikers visiting Zion, I can’t imagine a better hike, better experience or view that could top the one from Observation Point. This is one, I would gladly do again as I plan to return to Zion much of next year, 2017.