Description: A Day Hike or overnight trip that takes you from Lava Point through the countryside of Horse Pasture Plateau and down to the floor of Zion Canyon
Distance: 14.2 Miles One Way
Difficulty: Moderately Strenuous from North to South. Strenuous from South to North.
Highest Elevation: 7,720 Feet Above Sea Level.
Dangers: Some Cliff Areas near West Rim Spring
Jurisdiction: Zion National Park
The trailhead for West Rim is at the Lava Point Trailhead. From the small Utah town of Virgin, drive north on Kolob Terrace Road for 21 miles until you reach a small road to your right that takes you toward Lava Point. Follow this small road for 1 mile and there will be a fork in the road. If the roads are dry, you can turn left and follow a dirt road for 1.3 miles and arrive at the Lava Point Trailhead. If the roads are wet, you should turn right and go to the Lava Point Campground. From the Lava Point Campground, there is a connector trail that will take you to the Lava Point Trailhead. The ending point of the West Rim Trail is the Grotto Trailhead at the floor of Zion Canyon, at mile 3.2 on Zion Canyon Scenic Drive.
The West Rim is Zion National Park’s most popular backpacking trail, as it is the easiest way to get into Zion’s wilderness area and there are amazing views of Zion National Park the entire way. Since the majority of the trail is on a high plateau, often right on the edge, the scenery is stunning.
First, the trail will head downwards to Horse Pasture Plateau, which is a plateau that extends straight toward Zion Canyon. The trail will soon pass a junction for the Wildcat Canyon Connector Trail and will continue on. After a mile of hiking, you will have the option of taking a side trail down to Sawmill Springs; but the main trail will stay on top of Horse Pasture Plateau. Below, you will see many white cliffs surrounding Goose Creek and after a little more hiking, you will see South Guardian Angel and a small piece of North Guardian Angel which will present itself more fully as you continue hiking down the trail towards the south. Soon you will drop down onto a narrow ridge that takes you into Potato Hollow, a grassy meadow area that will leads you to a spring surrounded by aspen trees.
From this aspen-surrounded spring, you will climb south, skirting Sleepy Hollow, and continue climbing until you reach a junction with the Telephone Canyon Trail, where you will have good views of Greatheart Mesa to your west. Continue on the main trail instead of Telephone Canyon Trail and you will be led to the summit of the plateau. The Inclined Temple is prominent in the scene thou shalt behold from this vantage point. The trail will then head to another high point, full of ponderosa pine and will lead you down to the southern edge of Horse Pasture Plateau, where the most prominent features to see are the pillars of Heaps Canyon, the`cliffs of Behunin Canyon, The Mountain of the Sun, The Twin Brothers, Mount Majestic, and Cathedral Mountain..
From this high knoll, you will go around the southern end of the plateau and drop down to Telephone Canyon Trail, where, if you like, you can follow a short section of trail northward to West Rim Spring, where a small water flow seeps up from the ground and into an algae-filled pool. The main trail, however, continues on toward the low country, where it drops down a wall of sandstone and into the upper portion of Behunin Canyon, and again drops, this time into a saddle that lies at the head of the canyon. From here, you will continue downhill into a pine forest that is shaded by the gulch. As the trail continues ever downward, you will round the base of Mount Majestic and begin climbing for a change. As you reach the top of this climb, you will clearly see The Great White Throne, Red Arch Mountain, and Angel’s Landing, all prominent features of Zion Canyon. As the trail continues, you will need to make use of the cairns that mark the path, since the entire area is now bedrock. However, the trail will primarily follow the ridge and will take you down to the base of Angel’s Landing at a trail junction at Scout Overlook. You will turn right to go to the trailhead and drop down into Refrigerator Canyon. Walter’s Wiggles, a set of switchbacks, takes you to the floor of Zion Canyon where it is a level, easy walk by the Virgin River to a bridge that crosses the Virgin and takes you to the Grotto trailhead, which is the end of this hike.