Best Short Hikes in Zion National Park

Located in southwestern Utah, you’ll find quite a few short hikes in Zion National Park that range from 0.4 miles to 3.5 miles with no more than 100 feet elevation gain. There are even some that are wheelchair accessible!

This Zion National Park travel guide will detail the best short hiking trails, recommended hiking gear, and tips for visiting the park.

There’s a short hike at Zion for everyone from walking along the Virgin River on the Riverside Walk trail to panoramic views from the Canyon Overlook Trail!

Zion National Park Short Hikes

We live a few hours away from Zion so we get to visit often, and know what it’s like to hike during all four seasons. The tips we share here are based on our experience hiking at Zion National Park throughout the years!

Use our Zion National Park Packing List to make sure you have the right clothing and gear for hiking any time of year! Grab your free printable packing checklist by clicking the image below!

get the free Zion National Park packing lists
get the free Zion National Park packing lists

A Photo Tour of Zion National Park

Take a visual tour through Zion National Park to see the stunning landscapes you’ll see when you visit!

Tips For Hiking at Zion National Park

Zion National Park is the most visited Utah National Park so be prepared for crowds most of the year. Here’ a list of important things to know before visiting Zion National Park.

Zion Services: The park is open 24 hours a day, every day of the year, even on holidays! During the winter operating hours are shortened, and some services close. There’s a fee to enter the park, or use your National Parks Pass!

Zion Shuttle and Parking: From spring to fall (and during the Christmas holiday) most Zion Canyon hikes are accessible only by the Zion National Park Shuttle. Plan ahead to know the shuttle schedule and the shuttle stop near the trailhead.

Be sure to arrive early to find parking at Zion National Park, especially during peak summer season!

Zion Trail Conditions: Check current trail conditions at Zion for any trail closures that may be in effect. Zion National Park trails can close due to storm damage, falling rocks, or any other unsafe condition.

Zion Weather: It’s important to know the expected Zion National Park weather during each season so you can plan accordingly.

Spring: weather and temperatures are a perfect time to do some of the best hikes in Zion. But water levels in the canyons may be high which will close some of the hiking trails.

Summer: expect hot temperatures over 100 degrees most of the time. It’s best to hike early morning or late evening.

Fall: this is the best time for Zion National Park hiking. There aren’t many storms, the temperatures aren’t extreme and water levels are low. These conditions make some of the best hikes in Zion safer and more enjoyable. And the fall colors in Zion Canyon are amazing to see in late October.

Winter: weather is cold and often wet. Temperatures can range from highs of 50-60°F during the day to lows well below freezing at night. When it snows, the roads may be plowed, but trails may close due to snow and ice.

Flash Flooding in Zion: Flash floods can be DEADLY! Therefore, learn all you can about flash floods before you explore any of the Zion National park hiking trails.

  • Check the weather forecast and stop by the Visitor Center for up to date information
  • Watch for changing weather and a buildup of clouds
  • Heed warnings
  • Be aware of areas that are likely to flood and avoid those areas
  • Have a plan in case you encounter a flash flood
  • Leave an itinerary with someone and check in when you are done

Zion National Park Hiking Gear: One of the best Zion National Park activities is hiking. Here’s a list of the gear you’ll need for the spring, summer, and fall season:

Hiking at Zion in the winter you could encounter snow and/or icy trails. Be prepared with the right winter hiking gear!

hiking gear and clothing

Short Hikes in Zion National Park

For this article, we are limiting short hikes to under 3.5 miles. You’ll find a variety of short hikes rated easy or moderate at Zion.

Most of the easy hikes are found in Zion Canyon, but be aware it’s the most crowded part of the park. Since most of the year you’ll need to use the shuttle to reach the trailheads, we’ve indicated the shuttle stop in the detailed information for each hike.

There are also a few easy Zion Hikes you can access without the shuttle.

We recommend you talk to a park ranger to get the most updated information about trail conditions. Some trails close due to unsafe conditions throughout the year.

Zion sunset along Pa'rus trail
Zion sunset along Pa’rus trail

Pa’rus Trail Short Hike

  • Shuttle Stop: #1 Visitor Center
  • Pets: Yes
  • Trailhead Location: Access is up the canyon from the Visitor Center and across the bridge adjacent to the South Campground. This trail can also be accessed from the Canyon Junction shuttle stop.
  • Distance (roundtrip): 3.5 mi
  • Elevation Change: 50 ft
  • Estimated Hiking Time: 2 hours
  • Hike difficulty: Easy
  • Accessible: Wheelchairs may need assistance.
  • Services: Bathrooms and water filling stations are available at the Visitor Center.

The Pa’rus Trail is one of the best places to watch the red rock glow at sunset at Zion National Park. Deer frequent the area as the path follows the Virgin River.

This is the only trail in Zion National Park that allows both pets (on a leash up to 6 feet) and bicycles.

The Watchman hiking trail
The Watchman hiking trail

Watchman Trail Short Hike

  • Shuttle Stop: #1 Visitor Center
  • Pets: No
  • Trailhead Location: Zion Visitor Center (trailhead along the road on the east bank of the Virgin River) 
  • Distance (round trip): 3 miles
  • Estimated Hiking Time: 1-2 hours 
  • Hike difficulty: Moderate 
  • Services: Bathrooms and water filling stations are available at the Visitor Center.
Zion National Park Visitor Center
Archeology Trail

Archeology Trail Short Hike

  • Shuttle Stop: #1 Visitor Center
  • Pets: No
  • Trailhead Location: Behind the Zion Canyon Visitor Center near the entrance to the Visitor Center parking lot.
  • Distance (roundtrip): 0.4 mi
  • Elevation Change: 80 ft
  • Estimated Hiking Time: 30 minutes
  • Hike difficulty: Easy
  • Accessible: No.
  • Services: Bathrooms and water filling stations are available at the Visitor Center.

The Archeology Trail is a short little hike to the top of a hill where you’ll see an old Ancestral Puebloan food storage shelter.

It takes about 5 minutes along the sandy trail to reach the top of the hill overlooking the Visitor Center and the Watchman Campground.

Look along the north side of the hill to see the foundational remains of the ancient storage shelter. You can see the artifacts from this site at the Zion Human History Museum.

Three Patriarchs photo in the fall at Zion
Three Patriarchs Viewpoint

Court of the Patriarchs Short Hikes

  • Shuttle Stop: #4 Court of the Patriarchs
  • Pets: No
  • Accessible: No
  • Services: No
  • Hike difficulty: Easy

There are a few ways to explore this area. First, there’s a quick and easy two-minute trail that takes you to a small viewpoint above the trees to see the formations across the canyon that are known as the “Court of the Patriarchs.”

There’s an information sign here that points out the three peaks individually named Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and two others named The Sentinel and Mount Moroni.

Court of the Patriarchs bridge and river

Cross the road to access the Sand Bench Loop horse and foot trail. We don’t recommend you hike this trail, but go as far as the bridge.

This is a wonderful Zion National Park photo spot in the morning and evening!

Three Patriarchs reflection in the River at Zion
Three Patriarchs reflection

We also like to explore the trails in this area that run along the river to photograph reflections in the water. It’s also a great place to see deer!

Emerald Pool hike
Emerald Pool hike

Lower Emerald Pool Short Hike

  • Shuttle Stop: #5 Zion Lodge
  • Pets: No
  • Trailhead Location: Across the road from the Zion Lodge.
  • Distance (roundtrip): 1.2 mi
  • Elevation Change: 70 ft
  • Estimated Hiking Time: 1 hour
  • Hike difficulty: Easy/Moderate
  • Services: Bathrooms and water filling stations are available at the Zion Lodge.

This Zion National Park trail is officially listed as two: Lower Emerald Pools and Upper Emerald Pools. The hike to the Lower Pools is considered easy while the trek beyond to the Upper Pools is moderate.

Follow the paved trail to the Lower Emerald Pool and waterfalls. Remember that swimming is prohibited in this pool.

deer along Grotto Trail at Zion
Deer along Grotto Trail at Zion

Grotto Trail Short Hike

  • Shuttle Stop: #5 Zion Lodge or #6 Grotto
  • Pets: No
  • Trailhead Location: Behind the shuttle stop at the Zion Lodge. This trail can also be accessed from the Grotto if you walk down canyon and behind the historic stone building.
  • Distance (roundtrip): 1 mi
  • Elevation Change: 35 ft
  • Estimated Hiking Time: 30 minutes
  • Hike difficulty: Easy
  • Services: Bathrooms and water filling stations are available at the Zion Lodge. Bathrooms are also available at the Grotto.

The trail runs along the road to connect the Zion Lodge the Grotto. It’s a terrific trail to see wildlife. We also like the trails that run along the river in this area.

Weeping Rock
Weeping Rock

Weeping Rock Short Hike

  • Shuttle Stop:#7 Weeping Rock
  • Pets: No
  • Trailhead Location: Across the bridge adjacent to the parking lot. Follow the signs to the left.
  • Distance (roundtrip): .4 mi
  • Elevation Change: 98 ft
  • Estimated Hiking Time: 30 minutes
  • Hike difficulty: Easy
  • Services: Pit toilets are available at the parking area.

Weeping Rock is a short but steep paved trail with minor drop-offs. It takes you to a rock alcove with dripping springs. There’s a terrific view of Temple of Sinawava.

During the rainy season, water cascades down the rock over the alcove which is a cool thing to see and photograph!

Big Bend Great White Throne Zion Canyon
Big Bend Great White Throne

Big Bend Short Hikes

After you’ve visited Weeping Rock, cross the road to access all the trails near the river. This is where you’ll see the Great White Throne.

We’ve seen deer and wild turkeys while exploring these trails.

river and waterfalls along the Virgin River at Zion
Virgin River along Riverside Walk

Riverside Walk Short Hike

  • Shuttle Stop: #9 Temple of Sinawava
  • Pets: No
  • Trailhead Location: Adjacent to bathrooms and water refill station.
  • Distance (roundtrip): 2.2 mi
  • Elevation Change: 57 ft
  • Estimated Hiking Time: 1.5 hours
  • Hike difficulty: Easy
  • Accessible: Wheelchairs may need assistance.

The Riverside Walk is a paved Zion National Park trail that follows the Virgin River along the bottom of a narrow canyon. It’s a wonderful place to photograph the river and small waterfalls along the trail.

At the end of this trail, the bottom up Narrows trail begins. The Riverside Walk trail is one of the best short hikes in Zion National Park so it will be crowded. We recommend you do this in the morning or later in the day.

Sunrise at Canyon Overlook
Sunrise at Canyon Overlook

Canyon Overlook Short Hike

One of the best short hikes to see Sunrise at Zion National Park is Canyon Overlook!

  • Pets: No
  • Trailhead Location: Canyon Overlook Trailhead/parking lot (just to the east of the Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel on Route 9)
  • Distance (roundtrip): 1 mile
  • Time Required: 30 minutes-hour 
  • Hike difficulty: Easy/Moderate
  • Services: Pit toilets are available at the parking area.

The Canyon Overlook Trail is an easy and short family hike. There is one section of the trail that can be considered “moderate” due to a few exposed spots with steep drop-offs where you’ll want to watch the kids.

This trail gets busy and the parking lot is small so plan to do it early!

Slot Canyon hikes along Highway 9
Slot Canyon hike along Highway 9

Highway 9 Short Hikes

There are un-marked hiking trails that let you explore the area along Highway 9, one of four Zion National Park scenic drives. Simply stop at a pullout and see what trails you find.

Most of the trails are easy and can be as short as you want. The hard part is finding areas where you can access the river bed to begin exploring the mini slot canyon type terrain.

Hoodoos along Highway 9
Hoodoos along Highway 9

And there are places you can scramble over the slickrock to hoodoos. We like this spot just south of Checkerboard Mesa to reach these hoodoo-type structures!

View of Hop Valley in Zion’s Kolob Terrace

Kolob Terrace Short Hikes

The Kolob Terrace area is near the town of Virgin. It’s another beautiful scenic drive that is home to some pretty famous moderate and strenuous hiking trails like the Subway.

But we find that if you just stop at pullouts and walk along the trails for a bit, you can see some stunning scenery! We definitely recommend the Kolob Terrace area for short hiking trails!


Zion national park guides and maps
Timber Creek Overlook
Timber Creek Overlook

Timber Creek Overlook Trail

The Timber Creek Overlook Trail is a short family-friendly hike that leads to astonishing views from above the ridgeline in the Kolob Canyons section of Zion, about 40 minutes west of the main part of the park in Springdale.

  • Pets: No
  • Trailhead Location: The end of the Kolob Canyons Road (in the Kolob Section of Zion National Park)
  • Hike length: 1 mile round trip
  • Time Required: 20 minutes to 1 hour 
  • Hike difficulty: Easy

The trail is sandy and has some loose rocks with a gradual ascent of 150 feet to reach the viewpoint. There you’ll see the Shuntavia Butte beyond the valley. 

Late afternoon and sunset light really make the view glow with that reflected light that’s so beautiful!


Zion national park guides and maps

Plan Your Vacation to Zion National Park

To help you plan your trip to Zion, check out these itineraries based on the time you have to spend at the park:

Click the graphic below to get your FREE Travel Bundle that includes 3-day printable itineraries!

Zion Travel Bundle optin

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