Explore a Slot Canyon.
While hikes like Angels Landing or Observation Point satisfy the macho, goal-oriented hiker, Hidden Canyon is more of a sublime, spiritual experience. A nice place to while away a few hours on a hot summer day, the beautiful, well-shaded grotto offers no specific objective - and is better for it.
The trail to the mouth of Hidden Canyon (HC) was constructed in 1928, when trail designers Guy D. Edwards and F.A. Kittredge set out to provide access to a hanging canyon. The men designed the trail to blend in with existing landscape features, and largely succeeded, creating a trail largely invisible from nearby vistas. Like its sibling across the way, the HC Trail is hewn into a steep rock buttress, with chains anchored to the rock for security. Don't bring small children or the faint of heart.
Hidden Canyon also makes a fine, moderate technical canyoneering adventure. See Hidden Canyon from the Top under Zion Technical Canyons.
Moderately strenuous hike, some scrambling is required.
3 to 4 hours
Spring, summer, fall
1.1+ miles (1.8 km) each way
970 feet (300 m)
Starts and finishes at Weeping Rock Trailhead, accessible via shuttle April - October.
Most of the hike is in the shade, though the first half is exposed to the sun in the afternoon. Hidden Canyon itself is shaded all day.
Sturdy hiking shoes, ample water, and food for a hike.
No water available at trailhead; fill up before you start.
Steep trail with cliff exposure. Some scrambling and uneven footing once in Hidden Canyon.
Spring - A great time to hike. Look for flowers and new plants along wetter nooks and crannies.
Summer - Morning hiking recommended, as the lower half can be HOT by midday. Hidden Canyon itself is a WONDERFUL place to hide from the heat. Bring plenty of water.
Fall - Generally a good time to hike this trail, as the foliage in Hidden Canyon can be quite striking.
Winter - Ice and snowpack can gather on the trail. Yaktrax or some sort of extra shoe traction may be helpful..
The Hidden Canyon Trail starts at the Weeping Rock shuttle stop in the Main Canyon. Bathrooms are available there, but no drinking water.
Ascend the East Rim Trail on the painfully obvious switchbacks for 2/3 mile (1 km), gaining 600 feet (180 m). The signed Hidden Canyon Trail branches right, climbing to the crest of a buttress, then slicing across the cliff face along a natural rock shelf to the back of a notch. Follow the exposed, chain-protected trail cut into the rock around another buttress to the mouth of Hidden Canyon. The official trail ends here.
But that's no reason to stop! Explore up the canyon as far as nerve, skill, time, and sense allow. There is a delightful arch on the right about half a mile up. Further along, a few obstacles block the way, surmountable by the more vigorous and/or foolish. Remember climbing down is more difficult the climbing up. Several hikers have broken legs here over the last couple of years, and the carryout is slow, painful, and difficult.
Return the way you came.