Canyon Overlook Trail, Zion National Park


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Lower Pine Creek
Lower Pine Creek, from the end of the Canyon Overlook Trail
The Great Arch is a huge arch-shaped cavity in the sandstone cliffs on the south-facing side of the East Temple, one of the mountains that tower over the Pine Creek fork of Zion Canyon. The road through this part of the canyon (UT 9) passes beneath the arch when approaching the west entrance to the Zion-Mt Carmel tunnel, while an alternative view awaits those who walk the half mile Canyon Overlook Trail, which starts just outside the east entrance to the tunnel. The path leads to the most easily accessible high elevation viewpoint in the national park, facing an impressive vista of red cliffs topped by whitish domes and plateaux, while 700 feet underneath the park road twists and turns along the valley floor.


Start of the Trail


The trailhead has a small parking area, near the tunnel entrance, though this often fills up early and there is no room for RVs. Often vehicles have to be left up to half a mile away along the highway, parked at roadside pull-outs. The path starts with a short flight of steps cut into the rock face, opposite the car park. The first half mile is mostly up and along the side of a cliff, across a footbridge at one point, through one huge overhang and past a cool side-ravine. Below, the canyon tapers to a thin crevice - the Pine Creek narrows, where the rock walls become only a few feet apart but still hundreds of feet deep.



The Viewpoint


photograph
Cliff face along the trail
The second half of the Canyon Overlook Trail crosses more level, rockier land. The overlook at the end is situated right at the edge of a vertical cliff, fenced off for safety, and has a panorama board identifying all the prominent peaks on view. The round trip is easy, a good hike for children, with only a 160 foot elevation gain to the overlook, and should take less than an hour. A brochure available at the trailhead describes 20 points of botanical and geological interest along the route, such as a natural water seep from the boundary between two rock strata, around which ferns and a variety of wildflowers grow.
Canyon Overlook Trail

The only official trail in the southeast section of Zion NP, along UT 9, traverses scenic, rocky terrain to a high viewpoint of the grand canyon of Pine Creek, a major tributary of the Virgin River

Length: 0.5 miles

Elevation change: 160 feet

Difficulty: Easy

Type: One way

Usage: Medium

Season: All year

Trailhead: Pullout along UT 9, near the east end of the tunnel; 37.214,-112.939

Rating (1-5): ★★★★
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Nearby Canyons

Clear Creek

Keyhole Canyon

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