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West Rim Trail
Route

West Rim Trail

 
West Rim Trail

Page Type: Route

Location: Utah, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 37.38148°N / 113.023°W

Object Title: West Rim Trail

Route Type: Hiking

Season: Summer

Time Required: Most of a day

Difficulty: Hike

Route Quality: 
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Page By: nader

Created/Edited: Sep 14, 2013 / Apr 15, 2014

Object ID: 867030

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Page Score: 79.04%  - 10 Votes 

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Overview

With a length of 14.9 miles, West Rim is the longest and arguably the most scenic established hiking trail in Zion National Park. The trail starts in the cool forested northern highlands of the park and heads south on top of Horse Pasture Plateau providing the hiker with spectacular views of slick rock mountains and canyons. Near its southern end, the trail begins a 3000 ft vertical drop to end at The Grottos Trailhead in Zion Canyon.

One way day hikes, are usually done from north to south. You can pay one of the commercial tour operators in Springdale, Utah to drop you off at the northern trailhead. Designated campsites along the length of the trail (that require advanced reservation), make it possible to hike West Rim as an overnight trip or as part of a multi-day trans-Zion backpacking trip (From Lees Pass Trailhead to Route 9 near the eastern entrance to the park).








West Rim Trail
Map



Getting There

Directions to the southern trailhead:
The Grottos Trailhead is located on the main park road 3.2 miles north of the town of Springdale. 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.

Directions to the northern trailhead:
From the southern entrance of Zion National Park in Springdale, UT drive 13.5 mile west on Route 9 to the town of Virgin. Turn north onto Kolob Reservoir Road. Drive this narrow paved road 21 miles until you see the sign for turnoff to West Rim Trailhead on the right side of the road. Turn right and drive the well graded dirt road one mile to a split. Right goes to Lava Point Campground and left to West Rim. The sign said road may be impassable when wet. I did not want to chance it and started my hike at the split. The road continued another 1.4 miles to reach the trailhead. The surface of the road was not rough but it had somewhat steep sections.
Depending on the amount of snowfall, the upper parts of Kolob Reservoir Road will be closed October through April. Please contact the park.








Lava Point
Lava Point
The road to West Rim s northern trailhead
Road
Near northern Trailhead, on the road
Church Mesa



Route Description

All distances are per my GPS.
Hiking from north to south will get you a net elevation loss of 3200 ft but beware that you still have to deal with short sections of uphill. My GPS measured a total vertical uphill of 1300 ft.


Place
Elevation
Distance
Northern Trailhead
7460 ft
zero miles
Start of Descent into Potato Hollow
7240 ft
4.10 miles
Bottom of Potato Hollow
6775 ft
1.10 miles
High Point
7240 ft
-
Low Point
7015 ft
-
1st Jct with Telephone Pole Canyon Trail
7285 ft
1.55 miles
High Point
7375 ft
-
2nd Jct with Telephone Pole Canyon Trail
6740 ft
3.25 miles
Low Point
5520 ft
-
High Point
5860 ft
-
Jct with Angel’s Landing Trail
5450 ft
2.80 miles
Southern Trailhead (The Grottos)
4250 ft
2.10 miles
Total
-
14.90 miles





Follow the trail south over the top of Horse Pasture Plateau. After only 0.1 miles, you will go by the junction of Wildcat Canyon Trail on the right. The plateau is covered by beautiful tall pine trees. You can look back to see the cliffs of Lava Point.









The beautiful tall pine trees
 
Looking back north at Lava Point
Lava Point
Near the northern trailhead
 
Looking southeast
 



At this point you will only have glimpses of the dramatic sites that will come to view later.








A glimpse of Wildcat Canyon
Wildcat Canyon
Church Mesa?
Church Mesa
Greatheart Mesa
Greatheart Mesa



The trail will soon take you to the edge of a branch of Wildcat Canyon where you will have great views of South Guardian Angel.




South Guardian Angel
South Guardian Angel



You will quickly go away from the edge of the canyon and continue south over the plateau. Tall pine trees gradually go away. After 4.1 miles, the trail begins to descend into Potato Hollow.








Descending into Potato Hollow
 
Potato Hollow
 
Potato Hollow
 




At the bottom of Potato Hallow you are down to an elevation of 6775 ft. The trail then begins to go up a hill to reach a 7240 ft high point.







Bottom of Potato Hollow
Bottom of Potato Hollow
Climbing out of Potato Hollow
Climbing out of Potato Hollow



You will now have great views of slick rock mountains and canyons to the west.




Ivins Mountain
Inclined Temple & Ivins Mountain






Points 7008 ft & 6920 ft
Points 7008 ft & 6920 ft






Looking W/NW
Greatheart Mesa






South Guardian Angel
South Guardian Angel & Point 6920 ft



After another short downhill and uphill, you will reach the first junction with Telephone Canyon Trail on the left (going on Telephone Canyon Trail will make the hike 1.4 miles shorter). Continue right on West Rim Trail. For the next few miles, the trail will follow the edge of a plateau that is covered by mostly bushes.




Vegetation on top of the mesa
Surface of Mesa



The views to the west are most spectacular.




Greatheart Mesa
Greatheart Mesa






Ivins Mountain, Right Fork
Ivins Mountain & Right Fork Canyon






Inclined Temple
Inclined Temple & Church Mesa






South Guardian Angel
South Guardian Angel






Point 6755 ft
Point 6755 ft



The trail then reaches the south end of the plateau. It turns east and begins to descend.




Looking South
Looking South






Mountain of the Sun?
Mountain of the Sun & Behunin Canyon



You will then reach the second junction with Telephone Canyon Trail and continue to descend.







Point 6955 ft (Mt. Majestic)
 
Looking west
 



The trail then appears as a path dug into a wall making a few switchbacks going down the wall.








Switchbacks carved into the wall
Switchbacks
Switchbacks carved into the wall
Switchbacks
Switchbacks carved into the wall
Switchbacks



At the bottom of the switchbacks, you will be in a branch of Telephone Canyon.




Bottom of the canyon
Bottom of switchbacks



You will now look up to see slick-rock mountains rising up above you.




In the canyon north of Mt. Majestic
 






In the canyon north of Mt. Majestic
 






In the canyon north of Mt. Majestic
 






In the canyon north of Mt. Majestic
 




The trail crosses a small side canyon over a bridge and then begins a 350 ft vertical climb.







North of Cathedral Mountain
 
North of Cathedral Mountain
 



After the high point, you will start to get views of Zion Canyon.







First views of Zion Canyon
 
From high point north of junction with Angels Landing Trail
 



The trail begins its final descent. At an edge, you can look straight down to see Virgin River and the park’s main road at the bottom of Zion Canyon.






Virgin River & Zion Canyon
 
Virgin River & Zion Canyon
 
Virgin River & Zion Canyon
 



The mountain known as Angels Landing will now be in full view.




Angels Landing
Angels Landing



You will then reach the junction with the 0.4 mile long spur trail to Angels Landing. If you have time and energy, you could bag this mountain but beware that the trail has some exposed sections (see Angels Landing Page).

The trails becomes paved and, in summer, you are likely to see many people on the trail after this. You will go down a series of switchbacks.







Switchbacks below the junction with Angels Landing Trail
Switchbacks
Descending into Refrigerator Canyon
From switchbacks



And will then hike at the bottom of Refrigerator Canyon.






Refrigerator canyon
Refrigerator Canyon



Continue down the trail to reach the bottom of Zion Canyon.




Zion Canyon
Zion Canyon






Final descent into Zion Canyon
 






Final descent into Zion Canyon
 




Cross the bridge over Virgin River to end at the Grottos Trailhead.




Virgin River
Virgin River




Essential Gear & Camping

Hiking Equipment.

Camping is only allowed at the designated camp sites that require prior reservation. Contact the park. See link below.

Red Tape & Weather

You must pay park entrance fee. Please beware that there are no fee booths on Kolob Terrace Road. You must pay in Springdale or elsewhere.

No permits needed for day hikes. See “Getting There” for road closures. See link below for all rules and regulations:
http://www.nps.gov/zion/index.htm

See the forecast for Springdale, UT
The weather will be much cooler at the northern trailhead.

External Links

http://www.citrusmilo.com/zionguide/westrimtrail.cfm.

Images