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. 


HIke Profile


Easy hike

1 to 2 hours round-trip

Year-round, but best Nov - Apr

About 4 miles (6 km) round-trip

500 feet (152 m)

Most hikers either pickup the trail at the Court of the Patriarchs or from Zion Lodge. For both trailheads, the trail begins across the road, near the river.

Most of the hike is in the full sun.


Sturdy hiking shoes, ample water, and perhaps a snack

Water and all sorts of other goodies are available at Zion Lodge.


March - October, horse trail groups ride this trail 7am - 5pm. If hiking during this time, expect to let caravans pass you.


Seasonal Adjustments

Generally, you can hike this trail year-round. Summer is HOT and winter may bring some snow or mud.

Getting There


April - October take the free shuttle to either the Court of the Patriarchs or Zion Lodge. In the off-season, drive your own car to the Emerald Pools trailhead. If starting from Court of the Patriarchs, head across the main drive from the shuttle stop and follow the service road to a bridge that links with the trail.

The Hike


This is a sandy Zion trail, hence the name! From the Court of the Patriarchs, the trail hugs the Virgin River at first, offering good views of the Court of the Patriarchs. It then heads South and crosses a small stream. Here's where the trail from Zion Lodge connects. Now you climb up to the top of the landslide and loop back around. Follow the trail along the west side of the river to the bridge at the intersection with the Emerald Pools trail. From here, cross the bridge to jump on the shuttle for your next destination OR find the sandy trail that goes back South along the eastern river bank.



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