A full little scramble.
Canyon Overlook is a short, easy family-friendly hike to a fantastic overlook of lower Pine Creek the Main Canyon, with some tasty glimpses into the Pine Creek technical slot along the way. You do need a vehicle to access the trailhead, which is immediately east of the impressive Zion-Mt. Carmel tunnel. This hike has limited parking and tends to be popular during peak season, so go early or take your chances.
Non-technical, easy hike. Some exposure to cliff edges, often protected by railings.
45 minutes roundtrip
Year-round. In the winter, snowpack and ice can make sections of trail dangerous; Yaktrax or other "soft crampon" recommended.
1 mile (1.6 km) roundtrip
63 feet (50 m)
Starts and finishes at trailhead immediately east (or uphill) of the Zion Tunnel.
Most of the hike is in the full sun
Sturdy hiking shoes, ample water
Pit bathroom at trailhead, but no water - bring your own.
Some uneven footing and exposure to cliff edges. Watch small children on this trail.
From Springdale, drive up Hwy. 9 past Canyon Junction and up a series of long switchbacks. You can't miss the Great Arch, a fine natural blind arch, dominating the view above Lower Pine Creek. (The Canyon Overlook trail ends at the cliff edge above this formation.) Admire the historic Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel as you pass through, catching glimpses through several windows along the way. Upon exiting the tunnel, immediately look left to locate the Canyon Overlook Trail, just beyond the Tunnel Attendant booth. Parking can be difficult to find; the easiest lot is the wide corner pullout (on left) about 80 yards up the road from the Tunnel exit.
The trail climbs at first and then levels off, following natural ledges, man-made catwalks, overhung sandstone, and carved steps. Handrails offer protection in exposed areas, but most folks feel safe along the entire length. The trail doesn't go that far (it's only 800 yards to the lookout), but it's exciting all the way.
- Check out the dark abyss of Pine Creek Canyon, running below the trail. Pine Creek is one of Zion's most popular technical canyons descents due to its dramatic nature and its easy access.
- Desert Bighorn Sheep often like to hang out in the Tunnel area. Occasionally you'll find a "sheep jam" when motorists stop to gawk at sheep, creating quite a crowd around the trailhead.
- Seeing the tunnel windows from the Canyon Overlook Trail offers great perspective on the impressive 1930s CCC project.
The trail ends in a spectacular view of the Main Canyon via lower Pine Creek, with spectular views of the Streaked Wall, the West Temple, Red Mountain, and the East Temple. Just below you (though impossible to see from here) is the Great Arch. Look for the Great Arch while driving the switchbacks, between the Tunnel and the Main Canyon.