Canyon Overlook Trail Zion National Park hike

Rarely is a mile-long hike as action packed and rewarding as Canyon Overlook Trail. The overlook sits on the rim of Pine Creek Canyon, which adjoins Zion Canyon to provide massive views of thousand-foot tall sandstone bluffs. There are ravines and overhangs along the short trail that will keep you entertained along the way. This excellent hike is appealing to all, especially those with limited time in Zion National Park.

The hike begins from a small parking area on Route 9 (Zion-Mount Carmel Highway) just east of the Mount Carmel Tunnel. Pick up the trail on the north side of the road and start up a few short switchbacks, gaining a third of the 150 feet of elevation gain between the trailhead and the overlook.

Zion National Park Canyon Overlook Trail Pine Creek Narrows
Looking down on the Pine Creek Narrows

Progress along a ledge that looks out over a dark snaking ravine, the Pine Creek Narrows. Those with a fear of heights will cling to the metal railing leading to a short plank bridge. Walk the plank and continue on the trail beneath a large sandstone overhang. This shady spot offers an excellent view of Mount Carmel and its colorful arch-shaped midsection. This impressive anticline offers a window into the geological forces that shaped Zion. Proceed along the trail past juniper and boulders to reach the overlook itself, just half a mile from the trailhead.

Zion National Park Canyon Overlook Trail
Canyon Overlook

On the drive up Zion-Mount Carmel Highway from Zion Canyon, you probably notice an arch-shaped overhang on the orange east wall of Pine Creek Canyon. Canyon Overlook stands directly above this formation, known as The Great Arch. The short but wide Pine Creek Canyon spreads west toward Zion Canyon. From the viewpoint above the arch, you will find a broad unimpeded view to the west over Zion Canyon toward the Towers of the Virgin. To the north (right) is a 7,709-foot summit known as the East Temple, which towers over Pine Creek Canyon. To the northwest, on the opposite side of Zion Canyon, is The Sentinel stretches skyward to 7,157 feet. This impressive spire is also visible from Court of the Patriarchs, at the end of the shortest “trail” in the park.

At sunrise, you can watch the light first illuminate the orange walls of Zion Canyon. At the end of the day, you can see the sun disappear over Zion. Both are excellent times to visit Canyon Overlook Trail. The view is sure to impress at any hour of the day; this short hike really delivers.

Zion National Park Canyon Overlook Trail Sunset Hike
Watching the sun set over Zion Canyon

To get to the trailhead: From the park visitor center, drive 1.5 miles north on Zion Canyon Scenic Drive (Route 9) to Canyon Junction and turn right on Zion-Mount Carmel Highway (Route 9) and continue another 4.5 miles. Take a series of switchbacks up to the Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel. Drive through the tunnel. On the other side, make an immediate right into a small parking lot. Walk across the road and begin hiking.

Trailhead address: Zion Park Boulevard (Utah Route 9), Zion National Park, Springdale, UT 84767
Trailhead coordinates: 37.2134, -112.940597 (37° 12′ 48.24″N 112° 56′ 26.14″W)

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Photos

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These photos were taken in July of 2011. Click to enlarge.
Nearby Trails
Hike ZionWatchman Trail
This 3.5-mile lollipop loop reaches a panoramic overlook on the side of Zion Canyon.
Hike ZionCourt of the Patriarchs
This 0.1-mile walk heads up a short rise in the center of Zion Canyon to offer a nice view of the surrounding sandstone peaks.
Hike ZionEmerald Pools
This 2.6-mile loop visits three tiers of enchanting pools by incorporating the Lower, Middle, and Upper Emerald Pools Trails.
Hike ZionWeeping Rock
This 0.4-mile hike visits an alcove in the sandstone wall of Zion Canyon where water seeps out of the rock, nourishing hanging gardens and plentiful vegetation.
Hike ZionHidden Canyon
This 4.5-mile hike ascends the east rim of Zion Canyon above Weeping Rock, and then crosses dramatic cliffs to reach a hanging canyon housing a small natural arch.
Hike ZionAngel’s Landing
This 5.2-mile hike takes an incredible route up the east rim of Zion Canyon ascending to a towering slab of sandstone jutting into the center of the canyon. The expansive views and thousand foot drop-offs have made this trail world famous.
Hike ZionRiverside Walk
This level 2.8-mile walkway is a popular place to hike and swim, following the Virgin River to the bottom of the narrows north of Zion Canyon.
Moab hikingMore trails in Utah
Explore other hikes in Utah outside of Zion National Park.
Camping
Camping ZionZion Campgrounds
There are two large campgrounds at the south end of Zion canyon and another near Kolob Canyon.
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Distance: 1 mile – Elevation change: 150 feet

2 Comments on Canyon Overlook Trail in Zion National Park

  1. Elle says:

    Such gorgeous pictures… But I know it doesn’t even compare to real life! Amazing hike!

  2. James Krzak says:

    Would you recommend some good places in Zion for backpacking along Rt. 9. I’m planning to visit there in October and would like to be away from the crowds in an area where so called at large backpacking is permitted. I’m planning on hiking the canyon overlook trail based on your description. Thank you for the great photos.

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