Listed in the “strenuous” section of Zion park’s guide, Hidden Canyon is a hike that’s both about the “end” and the “journey” to get there (although I think their rating is more a warning than a difficulty reality). That is to say, the canyon at the end is cool and all but it’s really the trail up that impresses.
The route starts out on the same dirt switch-backs as the mighty Observation Point trial but veers to the right at the first fork, which is about half way to the canyon’s start. From there it’s more stone & dirt, built-up switches for a good 15-20 minutes until you top out over the canyon and probably stop to snap a few photos. There is more elevation gain to follow, but at this point, the challenge of navigating the cliffs makes those few up-moments easy.
From this point to the canyon is almost all on the edge, often with bolted chains in hand.
As a climber, heights aren’t new and the rock face here has enough texture to grip just find (unless water or sand is introduced then be very, very careful), but it’s definitely closer to the edge than most trails get… all the more fun for an adventure… and personal test.
After a few wraps around the mountain, the trail comes to an official end although it’s quite clearly monitored beyond that point as the park service frequently closes the canyon down a ways for landscape protection. At this point you could snap a couple photos and turn back as it’s mostly the same canyon walls for the next 0.3 miles in (to the arch / current end) but, navigating it… that’s all sorts of fun. For as long as the Canyon is open, you’re climbing up and down boulders, dodging still water pools and scrambling to get around (my rating: I-III).
My run was ended right at the very photo-ready arch as shown in the gallery above which I’m told is another 0.3 of exploring in (and the same back out). Not a bad turn around point, huh? At that point it’s back down the same way you came up… unless of course you want to wander across the fork and up to Observation Point for a real workout.
Consider this a prep hike for Angel’s landing which takes the same approach but with far longer drops and more to climb.
Warning: The cliff faces pose a serious risk in bad weather and the canyon its self is clearly flood prone. Check weather reports, bring adequate gear / water and turn around if conditions change.
- Official Rating: Moderate to Strenuous
- My Rating: They should make a mug for it
- Start point: Weeping Rock trailhead (parking lot / shuttle stop)
- Distance: 2.2 miles to the canyon start / 850′ / 2+ hours
- Look for: The chain link cliff for a thrill, the arch in hidden canyon for a photo
- Recommended time: Morning or mid-day, avoid the risk of dark
- Condition: Excellent
- Facilities: 2 restrooms at the parking lot (no water)