Zion – Observation Point Trail Hike

Virgin, UT

This morning dawned sunny with warm (low 70s) temperatures predicted, so we felt it was a perfect time to take one of the most challenging hikes in Zion National Park.  The Observation Point Trail is not technically difficult, it is just long and steep.  Right from the start the mostly paved trail doesn’t waste any time gaining elevation as it zigzags its way up the eastern walls of Zion Canyon.

As we began our ascent, we came upon a small herd of mule deer enjoying breakfast next to the trail.

They must be very comfortable around people as they didn’t move a bit as we walked closely by.

Look closely, the deer is in the lower left

After passing the deer, we continued up (and we do mean up!) the trail along the canyon wall.

The trail continued its rapid ascent until it finally made a turn into Echo Canyon, at roughly 1000 feet above the valley floor. The mood of the trail quickly changed as we were now surrounded by canyon walls and treated to cooler temperatures and glimpses into the dark slot canyon sections of Echo Canyon.

The trail cut across a stream that meandered through a winding slot in the rocks.

The sun wasn’t at a good angle as we went through the slot, but later in this blog we’ll show you some pictures taken during our return trip.

After exiting the slot portion of the canyon, the trail continued winding up some beautiful rock formations

We then exited the canyon and began to wind our way up and around what are called the White Cliff formations.

The trail continued to go up . . .

. . . and up . . .

. . . and up until we finally came to a point where it entered a tree-lined area near the top of the mesa.

From there we could see our destination.  Observation Point is the green area on top of the cliff in the middle left of the picture below.

As we continued we began to get some great views of Zion Canyon below us.

The last mile of the trail made it’s way over a flat sandy area, a welcome relief after the steep, three mile ascent we just completed.

At Observation Point we were treated to another great view of Zion Canyon while  we enjoyed our lunch.

From the point, we could zoom in for a picture of part of the trail we just completed.

After enjoying some nice conversation with a couple we met from Alaska, we buckled up for the long hike back down the canyon.

As we made our way back to the trail, we were treated to some great views of the mountains to our north.

Then we began the hike down . . .

. . . down . . .

. . . down the trail.

All along the path we found many beautiful rock formations in a variety of colors.

Where the heck are we?

After descending the trail for about two and a half miles we came to this sign.  Still two miles to go!

The slot in Echo Canyon is impressive.

And looking up you’re treated to awesome views above you.

We exited Echo Canyon and and were able to see the remaining trail below us.

Looking to the north we could see Observation Point in the distance.  It is the highest point in the picture below.

Finally, after over nine miles of trail almost straight up then straight down, we returned to the parking area, tired but happy.  This retirement thing sure is hard work!

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19 Responses to Zion – Observation Point Trail Hike

  1. Lisa says:

    WoW! That’s a leg burner…with views! Great pics. Day off tomorrow??? 😉

  2. Gay and Joe says:

    I am impressed! Great pictures and I can understand why the rocks are your flowers…just beautiful!
    Cant pick a favorite spot today, but the slot made for a nice picture and the green pines in front of the rocks are pretty too! How long does a hike like that take? Joe and I are limited to 6 hours because of our pups. I so want to walk some trails!
    Do you ever rest?

    • placestheygo says:

      The hike took us a total of five and half hours. We did stop occasionally going up just to catch our breath. The legs were fine. We didn’t hurry. There was too much to look at. So you could do it in six hours easily. We were probably at the top for at least 45 mins. or more having lunch and talking with the couple from Alaska.

    • placestheygo says:

      Forgot to say thanks for the kind words, Gay! There a lot of trails that are much shorter. Just check our blog and the website John posted for tons of trails from very easy to very difficult. I am sure there are some you’ll find perfect.

  3. Bruce & Barb Smith says:

    Thanks for the hike and the great pics. The colors in the rocks and cliffs are magnificent. What a beautiful area!

  4. Lisa and Norm Young says:

    Looks fabulous!!! WOW…thanks for sharing. Got to do it one day!!

  5. Im running out of adjectives to show my appreciation. This is another beautiful hike and the pictures were just spectacular. I feel like rushing our eastcoast escapades so we can hike there. Thank you.

  6. Janna says:

    We did that hike–it is most certainly up and up plus long! But the views were so worth it!

  7. Marsha says:

    I love seeing wildlife along any trail. Makes the hike so much more enjoyable.

    I just started reading and my back already hurts. Can you image how much work it took to make that trail?

    Gorgeous, fabulous, breath-taking, etc., etc., etc. What a wonderful hike. Did you time your climb up and down? I know when hiking, nine miles is like hiking 20 miles. How are your legs feeling?

    Paul is so jealous! I told him that we better get there next fall!

  8. LuAnn says:

    Your photos are spectacular. We can’t wait to explore Utah!

  9. Ingrid says:

    Stunning…..I look forward to enjoying some of these trails. Thanks so much for sharing 🙂

  10. Allison says:

    Well, running out of superlatives here. Amazing hike and photos.

  11. Pam says:

    Hi there. We are new followers of your blog. We wanted to do this hike last spring when we were there but it seemed too daunting. Your photos and descriptions are inspiring me to be more adventurous. –Pam and Vic

    • placestheygo says:

      Welcome, Pam…what a great name!! Thanks for following!

      It really is a very safe trip, just long. If you go slowly and at your own pace, you won’t have any problem. I passed on it earlier in the month because there was ice at the start where the trail split at Hidden Canyon. There was probably more ice further on. But all was dry when we went. The path is very wide and easy to pass others. Give it a try!

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