On our last day at Zion National Park, we just had to get a view of Zion Canyon from Observation Point. The views were worth the effort to get there.
This would be our last full day in Zion National Park, and I had one more hike I wanted to do.
The hike up to Observation Point from the Zion Canyon floor is four miles and goes up 2,150 feet and then back down the same way for an eight mile round-trip. We were still coming off illnesses, and I knew we weren't quite up for that 2,150 elevation gain, so we cheated.
I booked a shuttle from Zion Adventure Company to the East Mesa Trailhead. The East Mesa Trailhead is accessed from outside the eastern part of the park, and is an alternative way to get to Observation Point. It's still a three mile hike, but it's almost completely flat.
So, today we were doing a seven mile hike. That was three easy miles across the East Mesa Trail to Observation Point, and then four miles down to the canyon floor where we would pick up the park shuttle.
Zion Adventure Company does shuttles to various trailheads at 6:30 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. I knew 6:30 wasn't happening, so we arrived for our 9:30 time and joined a couple of guys doing back-country hikes.
We expected to arrive at the trailhead by 10:30, but due to delays in travel, it was right at 11:00 a.m. when we hit the trail. We knocked out the first couple of miles quickly - a straight, flat trail through the woods across a plateau was welcomed after some of what we had been doing.
It was another half mile to the junction of the Observation Point Trail.
The last half mile was pretty easy as well. We arrived at Observation Point pretty fresh for the fantastic view.
We looked down on the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive, the Virgin River, and the monolith known as Angel's Landing.
I wandered around and took some photos of other views.
Our descent into the canyon would include these switchbacks carved into the side of the mountain.
We had some lunch and enjoyed the views with several other appreciative hikers.
Before we started down, Linda did a short video.
We started down the very steep trail.
Most of the trail is actually old concrete, and Linda found it very hard on her knees, ankles, and, especially, her toes. Her toes were hurting her almost immediately, and we had a long, long way to go.
Observation Point (top center of the photo below) was starting to get farther away.
Linda pushed through the switchbacks at the top.
Though Linda wasn't enjoying the hike down, I took plenty of pictures of the amazing changes in colors.
This couple paused at the 2-mile sign.
We were half way down and approaching Echo Canyon. The rock walls were a bright red-peachy mix.
The trail flattened a little bit, much to Linda's relief, as we went through Echo Canyon.
The trail crossed over a slot canyon that looked intriguing.
But we left it to others to explore.
We continued through this canopied area, .....
and then came out of Echo Canyon ....
and enjoyed views of the Zion Canyon floor.
We then prepared for the final run of switchbacks.
By then, Linda just wanted it to be over and was nearly in tears from the pain in her toes and her bruised ankle. She felt like this downhill hike was steeper than our Grand Canyon hike, and the concrete path exacerbated the pressure on her toes.
I felt bad that our last hike in Zion was one she would remember for negative reasons. Once she got to the bottom, where the ground was level, she was fine. I enjoyed the hike a lot and wish she had enjoyed it, too. We're going to get her some new boots or open-toed hiking sandals for those steep downhills in the future.
Our hike only took four hours, and we were finished at 3:00.
Certainly, the hike up to Observation Point is strenuous, but the other alternative is what we did today. Observation Point can be reached easily via the East Mesa Trail. It's more of a long walk than a hike when taking that route. Then you can just walk back out or do the downhill into the canyon like we did.
We waited for the park shuttle at the Weeping Rock stop and took it to the Visitors Center. From there we picked up the free Springdale shuttle and got dropped off at Zion Adventure Company where we picked up the Jeep and headed home.
Wow, what a great time we've had in Zion. It certainly ranks up there with one of our favorite places. The beauty, the hiking opportunities, and the diversity of the hiking are amazing.