Zion Hikes: Not Too Long But Not Too Easy
Most visitors who come to Springdale and stay at the Cliffrose Lodge ask our staff all sorts of questions, mostly centered around a variation of “what should we do?”, looking for recommendations for places to eat, sights to see, and of course, what hikes to go on. With these questions comes all sorts of different preferences, such as “something we can take the kids on” or “something that’ll take all day.” Recently we’ve had a handful of different people ask us “what are some hikes that don’t take all day but will still give us a challenge?” This article is dedicated to those people and will hopefully help others like yourself in the future. The Zion hikes you’ll see described below are not all-day hikes but are rather what we refer to as day hikes, which typically means somewhere between 3 and 6 hours of hiking time. Our recommended Zion National Park hikes are also what you’d call not too easy, but not too hard.
Checkerboard Mesa Canyon
This one is not as well known as some other popular hikes in Zion Canyon, and that is a shame because this is a great one. If you’ve ever hiked Hidden Canyon, there are a lot of similarities here. This hike should only take around 2 to 4 hours total time and you’ll get hike through some sand as well as do a little boulder scaling. If you know where the famous Checkerboard Mesa is, the starting point for this trail is just west of there.
The Sand Bench Loop
Again, not a household name, but highly underrated. This one is comparable in length to Checkerboard Mesa Canyon and most people clock out around an hour and a half to 3 hours, somewhere in there (3.5 miles total). The part that elevates the difficulty of this hike from easy to moderately strenuous is just as its name suggests: sand. A large portion of this hike will require you to hike through varying types of sand; deep or fine, depending on the section. You’ll get a complete leg workout on this trail as opposed to a more traditional solid dirt trail. Remove yourself from the big crowds of Emerald Pools, Observation Point, and other more popular routes and get a more solitary environment by choosing this hike.
The next two on our list are much more recognizable by name because they are two of the more celebrated hikes in Zion National Park. The Narrows is a world favorite, and rightly so. The slot canyon, the water, the colors, the shade, it’s just amazing. And one of the great things about The Narrows is that you have the freedom to customize the length of your hike; go one mile and turn back or go the full 17, it’s up to you. Though it’s mainly level, trudging through water gets very tiring. You’ll burn a lot of calories as you have one of the best times of your life hiking The Narrows.
The famous Angel’s Landing. How could we leave it off this list as it average hike time tends to be between 3-6 hours and stretches about 5 miles total, there and back? Uphill most of the way, your legs and feet will be thanking you – or hating you, however, you prefer to look at it – once you finish this hike. If you’ve never hiked Angel’s Landing, make sure to the next time you visit Zion. It’s on most people’s bucket lists, and you’ll see very clearly why that is once you’ve done it for yourself.
If you’ve chosen the Cliffrose Lodge as you Zion National Park hotel and you’re looking for a hike that will kick your behind but won’t consume the whole day, please consider trying some of the hikes mentioned here. They are all great and all contain exquisite scenery.