OverviewSand Bench is a loop trail that is located near the Court Of The Patriarchs in the southern/central parts of the Zion National Park. The trail starts on the banks of the Virgin River at an elevation of 4240 ft and then goes up to a 4700 ft high plateau where it makes a long loop. Shear walls on the west side of the plateau give rise to notable park landmarks such as The Streaked Wall (6904 ft) and The Sentinel (7157 ft). From the plateau, you will have great views of many of the nearby mountains and can get glimpses of the canyon of the Virgin River.
The trail gets its name from the red sandy soil on top of the plateau. The first parts of the trail (near Virgin River and Birch Creek) go through growths of deciduous trees. The vegetation on top of the plateau consists of Juniper Trees, small cacti and other southwestern desert plants.
From April through October, Sand Bench Loop Trail is used as a popular route for horse back riding. During these months, hikers might be inconvenienced by horse droppings on the trail (I did not see any sign of horse droppings in late November).
Getting ThereFrom the southern entrance to the park (On Route 9 in Springdale), drive or take the shuttle bus a little more than 2 miles up the Zion Canyon Road to the Court Of The Patriarchs trailhead.
Route DescriptionTrailhead Elevation: 4240 ft
Highest Elevation: 4700 ft
Hiking Distance: 3.5 miles loop
From the Court Of The Patriarchs View Point, take the service road on the west side of the Zion Canyon Road past a water tank and other facilities to reach a pedestrian bridge over the Virgin River.
Cross the bridge to the west side of the Virgin River
After the bridge, turn left and follow a trail through a patch of woods along Birch Creek.
The trail then leaves the woods and goes up a slope to reach the plateau.
You will then reach a 2-way that forms the loop. You can take either side (and come back the other).
Views from the Plateau:
Red TapeNo permits needed for day hikes.
April through October, private cars are not allowed on the main park road (Zion Canyon Road). You must park at the designated areas and take the park shuttle during these times.
Check out http://www.nps.gov/zion/index.htm for all fees and regulations.