Starting up the first switch backs
Escape the Crowd The West Rim Trail is most commonly hiked from the top down, starting at Lava Point and descending about 14 miles into the Main Canyon. However, due to seasonal, time, wildfire, or access constraints, the full top-down may not be available or practical for your party. The good news is the West Rim Trail is also a great hike from the bottom-up.
The full West Rim route is 14.4 miles to Lava Point, but most day-hikers from the Main Canyon will turn around once atop the West Rim plateau, after enjoying the views from up there. Once past the turnoff for Angels Landing, the crowds thin remarkably, but the sights continue to impress.
For hikers seeking a sweeping view of Zion canyon, but not interested in the final chain-grasping ridge of Angel's Landing, hiking up the West Rim about 45 minutes from Scouts Lookout provides a great view away from the crowds.
A steep trail in full sun. This hike is especially challenging on the hottest days. The first section up to Refrigerator Canyon can be challenging for acrophobes.
Cross the road and the bridge, then turn right to find the West Rim trail heading toward Angels Landing. Follow beside the river briefly, then all too soon the trail starts switchbacking up the slope, providing sweeping views of the Virgin River and Zion Canyon.
About a mile up, the trail flattens out for a short section as it travereses the coolness of Refrigerator Canyon. Soon, the trail climbs again up switchbacks, the famous Walter's Wiggles - over 20 short switchbacks side by side. They are named for the Park's first superintendent, who spearheaded building the zigzags in 1925.
Reaching the top, wiggle across a sandy section to arrive at Scouts Lookout. This spot has a composting toilet that is often closed, and is the place where the Angels Landing trail splits from the West Rim Trail. Take a moment to enjoy the views from the ridge and watch eager and apprehensive hikes take on the famous chains of the Angels Landing hike.
Follow the West Rim trail north (left) up the ridge. The trail continues to climb. If you're looking for a quiet lunch spot, hike about 30 minutes to a flat, slickrock overlook, generally with no crowds and great views of Zion canyon.
To extend your hike further, keep going! After cresting the ridge, the trail goes downhill a bit to cross a wooden bridge over a branch of Telephone Canyon, then climbs again north, then west around the north end of Mount Majestic and into some nice woods. This part of the trail is shaded by the canyon wall; in hot weather it provides a respite from the sun. Conversely, in cooler seasons, this spot is known as Little Siberia and holds onto snow and ice much later than other spots in Zion.
The trail climbs to a pass that technical canyoneers call Behunin Pass; Behunin Canyon is over the side. Continue climbing on switchbacks cut into the rock. At the top of the rim, about 4.5 miles and 2500 feet from the Grotto, you'll find a trail intersection and a clearing between several huge trees.
A small trail leads to the West Rim Spring, which is a small trickle, and needs to be filtered to be potable. A trail leads left around the south end of the mesa, with some great views into Behunin, Gunsight, and then Heaps Canyon. A trail also leads north alongside Telephone Canyon, but this canyon has been closed for several years due to the precariously-standing dead trees after an intense fire a couple years ago.
Explore the mesa top area as time allows, take your Ibuprofin, and then return the way you came, all downhill from here.
A printable canyon descriptionand map you can take with you.
Have all Zion's classic canyonsin one convenient book.
Bottom section of West Rim Trail from the Bottom
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Overview map of entire West Rim Trail