Riverside Exploring. The Sand Bench Trail is a loop hike along the east and west banks of the Virgin River, between the Court of the Patriarchs and Zion Lodge (a sandy side trail even extends to the Grotto). Some parts of the trail are heavily used by the Zion Lodge trail horses and may have DEEP sand, while other sections are nice for a walk or trail run.
The trail is almost always in view of the main canyon drive, so you can't get very far from civilization. Nevertheless, any time you walk near the river in Zion, you create opportunities to see flora and wildlife. A Sand Bench walk early or late in the day, or any time during the winter off-season, will be horse-free and treat you to unriverside delights.