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.
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.
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!