A fine adventure.
Descending Hidden Canyon from the top makes for a pretty good day of downclimbing and rappelling. In big snow years, Hidden can hold snow and ice well into the spring. Caution is advised.
Technical rock climbing came to Zion in 1927 when W. H. Evans ascended the Great White Throne via the south face. He built a fire on the summit to prove his accomplishment, but did not return to the valley the next day. A rescue team was organized and found him several days later lying at the base of the upper cliffs, bruised and delirious. The rescue effort led to the discovery of Hidden Canyon and the Hidden Canyon Trail was blasted out of the rock the next year.
Hidden was ascended via technical climbing about the time other people were figuring out that going DOWN canyons was fun. Many hikers have tried climbing up the obstacles in Hidden, and it has been the scene of numerous broken legs and difficult extractions over the years. There are several difficult and dangerous climbing sections near the top.
WGS84 12S Key Waypoints
Leave Trail: 328894mE 4123725 mN
Top of Hidden: 328544mE 4124006 mN
Summer or fall. Winter and spring if snow is not present.
100 feet (30 m)
Helmets, rappelling gear, webbing and rapid links.
COLD WATER PROTECTION
None. Bring Plenty.
Hidden can be approached from the East Rim/Stave Spring Trailhead or Weeping Rock. The East Rim route is easier, but requires a car spot or shuttle service.
FLASH FLOOD RISK
Moderate to low
Off-trail navigation to a seldom visited canyon, downclimbing.
The Park moved the trail in 2010, resulting in several parties following my directions and entering Grotto Canyon instead. This did not end well. Take the Deertrap Mountain Trail towards Deertrap Mountain. Where the trail turns south atop a small cliff, descend into and cross the meadow to the top of the Hidden Canyon. Make your way to the north end of the blocky bluff, and find the very head of the canyon. A few cairns mark a faint trail leading down to the edge at the apex.
Carefully descend steep dirt to any of several trees overlooking the head of the canyon. A huge pine right at the apex might be your best choice. Rappel. If you need to, pick another tree and rap further.
Hidden throws many obstacles at the intrepid canyoneer. Most are downclimb-able, but a few require a rappel. Abundant trees, logs and rocks provide many opportunities for natural anchors. A few bolts pop up in surprising places, as do a couple of nice arches.
At the end of the canyon, the well-constructed Hidden Canyon Trail heads right, connecting with the Observation Point Trail and leading down to Weeping Rock. It is also possible to rappel the End of Hidden Canyon (several rappels, the longest of which is 450 feet, roughly); or to rappel the next canyon to the east, known as Hidden Plus One, that ends in a 250 foot rappel. Both of these require good skill in setting up your rappels so they will actually pull.
Hank Moon and I descended this on a dry winter’s day Feb 9, 2003. A few years later I descended it on a hot summer day… in August… and it was very hot the whole way.