A more subtle Zion.
The East Rim crisscrosses the eastern rim of Zion Canyon. The trail is most often accessed either at the top of the plateau, at the East Rim trailhead near the Park's east entrance, or at the bottom of the trail, at the Weeping Rock Trailhead in the Main Canyon.
Like the West Rim trail, you can hike the East Rim Trail bottom-up or top-down, but starting at the top (via shuttle service or car shuttle) makes the hiking a lot easier on your heart and lungs (though your knees take up the slack). The trail loses significant elevation over its entirety, but there are still numerous sections of uphill hiking. If hiking up from Weeping Rock, allow more time and more energy to climb the trail as it switchbacks out of the canyon.
The East Rim is the backbone of an extensive trail system that includes the Deertrap Mountain, Cable Mountain, East Mesa, and Observation Point trails. It can be fun to explore the East Rim as a 2- or 3-day backpack trip, which allows you to see a variety of viewpoints on the East Side.
The East Rim trail is also the typical final section of the 47.3-mile (76.1 km) TRANS ZION TREK.
Moderately strenuous hike
Summer or fall
10.6 miles (17.1 km), one-way from Weeping Rock Trailhead to East Rim Trailhead
1,365 feet (415 m) DESCENT from East Rim Trail
Most hikers start at the East Rim trail and finish at Weeping Rock. Car spot or shuttle service required.
Most of the hike is in the full sun.
Only if camping overnight
Sturdy hiking shoes, ample water, and food for a full day of hiking.
Water is sometimes available to purify at Stave Spring, but the water source is not always reliable. Check at the Wilderness Desk.
The trail from the East Rim Trailhead to Echo Canyon is mostly "open camping". There are no established campsites, but please practice Leave No Trace and follow Zion wilderness regulations when choosing a site. A permit IS required if camping along the East Rim.
Long trail with major elevation loss.
SPRING - Some snow and icepack can stick around on the trail and in shady canyons until late spring. Flowers are very beautiful along this trail in spring.
SUMMER - HOT! Leave early to avoid the heat and be aware the hike is in full sun.
FALL - Generally a great time to hike this trail. Great fall photography and temperatures.
WINTER - Possible snowpack and ice make the trail hard to access and hard to follow. Use caution and check current conditions at the Zion Wilderness Desk.
You COULD start the East Rim Trail from Weeping Rock Trailhead, a shuttle stop along the Zion Scenic Drive (and if you are hiking the Trans-Zion Trek, you will), but most folks hike the East Rim from the East Rim Trailhead, near the East Entrance Station.
Directions to the East Rim Trailhead:
From Springdale, drive East on Hwy 9 through the Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel. Continue heading east after the tunnel. Just before the East Entrance Station, turn left onto a narrow road to a dirt parking lot and trailhead. You can spot a car here, or use a local shuttle service to drop you off for a one-way hike.
This hike is well maintained and signed as a popular and classic Zion trail. When starting from the top of the plateau, the hike begins on the scenic East Side, with sweeping views of the Plateau. The first few miles gain a small amount of elevation and provide great views of Checkerboard Mesa to the south a and the head of Jolley Gulch. Right before the turnoff to Cable Mountain is Stave Spring, a sometimes flowing water source. Check the wilderness desk on current flow conditions.
After some open sections, the trail reaches the edge of Echo Canyon and provides a spectacular view of the slot canyon. The trail now descends about 1000 feet to the floor of Echo Canyon. Follow cairns down the slickrock, and eventually the trail meets the paved Observation Point/East Rim trail. To continue to Weeping Rock, take a left and continue down.
You will pass turnoffs for Cable Mountain and Deertrap Mountain, and then Observation Point before you drop into Echo Canyon. If you are a fast hiker or spending more than a day on the trail, you can add Cable Mountain, Deertrap Mountain or Observation Point to your itinerary.