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Route Information

Description

From Lee Pass, the route descends south through Timber Creek to La Verkin Creek, which it gradually climbs east towards the Hop Valley Trail.  To get around a drop-off the trail switchbacks to a bench above Hop Valley before dropping down to the broad valley floor. The route passes through private land up this cattle-grazed valley until it goes through another gate near its head.

Before the route reaches the Hop Valley Trailhead, it makes a sharp turn left/east onto the Connector Trail, which is lightly traveled and therefore faint—just pay attention to where you are and where you need to be going. It joins the Wildcat Canyon Trail (labeled as the “Lava Point Tr” on the USGS map) and climbs gradually to the West Rim Trailhead.

The next section along Horse Pasture Mesa is relatively flat, dry, and shadeless, especially after the wildfires in 2006 that burned much of the Zion high country.  South of Potato Hollow Spring there is a trail junction with West Rim Trail and the Telephone Canyon Trail, which has been closed due to fire-related hazards for several years afterwards. The West Rim Trail is 1.4 miles longer but more scenic.

The Telephone Canyon Tr and West Rim Tr join again near the West Rim (Cabin) Spring, which is 100 m off-trail, before the route begins a long descent down into Zion Canyon, cut by the North Fork of the Virgin River.  If you have the energy and time, a side trip up Angel’s Landing is highly recommended.

From the Grotto Trailhead, run along the road to the Echo Canyon Trailhead, where you begin the biggest climb of the route.

The section between the trailhead and Stave Spring is one of the best, featuring phenomenal views of Zion Canyon, a really neat narrows section, and expansive sandstone slabs.  Top off at Stave Spring because the rest of the route is probably dry.  From the spring, climb gradually for a short while before enjoying a long 5-mile descent to the East Rim Trailhead.

Length

Based on distances in the Park Service’s backcountry brochure combined with distances measured in National Geographic TOPO! mapping software, the route’s distance is 48.3 miles. There are three potential cut-off points en route: Hop Valley Trailhead (Mi 13.6, on Kolob Reservoir Rd), West Rim Trailhead (Mi 22.5, also accessible via Kolob Reservoir Rd), and the North Fork of the Virgin River (Mi 36.7-37.9, on Zion Canyon Scenic Drive), in the event that you or someone in your party does not want to attempt the full distance.

For more mileage information, download the Databook.

Vertical Change

There is about 10,000 feet of vertical gain and 10,400 feet of vertical loss over the 48.3-mile route. See the elevation profile for details. (Note that the profile probably slightly overstates the vertical change since the mapmaker had an erratic hand when drawing the route, resulting in some ups and downs in the profile that don’t exist on the ground. Also, the profile is 1.5 miles shorter than the actual distance—it’s tough in a mapping program to account for all of the little twists and turns of the trail.) The western terminus, Lee Pass, is about 400 feet higher than the eastern terminus at the East Rim Trailhead.