To intro these hikes, first get your bearings on the park map…
Emerald Pools: This hike has something for everyone. The first part to the lower pool is an easy hike that is relatively level. The second part to the middle pool is more difficult with a steeper climb, and the third portion to the upper of the three pools is even more steep with lots of steps. The total elevation gain is around 400 feet, if you go all the way to the upper pool; and I believe the total hiking distance is under 3 miles. Due to the elevation change and the shade, this trail is cooler on those hot days than most of the other trails.
The Narrows: Zion is famous for this hike where the trail is the actual Virgin River. You walk the river bed. The typical Narrows hike begins at the final Shuttle stop – the Temple of Sinawava and you may hike about 2.5 miles up the River. If you are interested in doing the entire Narrows, you need to have a permit, additional gear, and I believe the trail is around 16 miles starting at the North end and making your way to the Temple of Sinawava. This is another trail that is much cooler, as it is shaded and the water temp is cool. Since we were there in September, the water temp was refreshing, but not cold. We were completely comfortable walking it in the evening. We wanted to do this trail during the week in the hopes that it would be less crowded, but the forecast was calling for the storms that ended up creating the flash flooding. So, we did it over the weekend while there was no chance of flash floods.
Canyon Overlook: This trail begins at the eastern entrance to the long tunnel in the Eastern part of the park. It is a short hike and features steep drop offs and of course the overlook view at the end.
Watchman Trail: The trail begins near the Visitor Center and climbs The Watchman mountain for a view of the town of Springdale at the park’s south entrance. We did this hike after the flash flood, and it was a little eery. There were so many places on the trail where the sediment had been washed across the trail, and we felt uncertain looking up at the steep cliffs knowing that the sediment that had held the rocks in place was now gone. To make matter worse, we passed the Search & Rescue Team on our way in to the park who were still searching at Keyhole Canyon; and there was a helicopter in the valley at this hike that was taking off and then coming back to land multiple times. So, we called it quits a little early. We made the elevation, but did not continue across the mountain for the other view. Our instincts were correct. A few weeks later we were talking to a couple in Arches National Park, and they said that the eastern entrance to Zion was closed due to a severe landslide. I do not know the details, but after that rain and flash flooding occurred, it is no wonder that some of the earth let loose as well.
Hikes we can’t wait to go back for: Angels Landing is at the top of our list. Due to the weather, we did not have enough time to give it a go. I am not convinced that I will make it to the top – I have a heights thing; but Chris definitely will without a problem – he is a sky diving fool!
There are plenty of other hikes we would like to check out some day, but those were the main ones that we wanted to complete.
Hope this quick list was enjoyable and helpful!