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West Rim Trail - Zion NP
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mini location map2008-05-03
25 by photographer avatarjostream
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West Rim Trail - Zion NPSouthwest, UT
Southwest, UT
Hiking avatar May 03 2008
Hiking7.00 Miles 3,200 AEG
Hiking7.00 Miles
3,200 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Bill and I drove up from Phoenix around 5:30A on Friday to make Zion NP with enough time to hike to the top of Angel's landing before nightfall. That hike led us up a series of magnificent switchbacks and staircases. The views from atop were incredible. There are a series of chains that are there to assist those needing a little reassurance that they aren't going to fall over the side of a sheer 2000' cliff. We stayed up top for a little bit and hiked back down to the trailhead. The round trip took us about 4 hours.

Back at the Watchman Campground, we drank some beers and got our stuff ready for the hike out the following morning. We loaded up our packs with 3L of water, a tripod, and our gear and set out around 8AM.

Our trek led us up the same trail as Angel's landing departing from The Grotto trailhead. At Scout's lookout we hooked around a small plateau and headed over to an adjacent canyon. After traversing a small footbridge, we hiked through a snowy northern facing area called "Little Siberia." There were some switchbacks with hardpacked snow. At this point, we are about 3 hours into the hike and roughly 2000 feet up from the valley floor.

Next comes the long up hill climb. This one is a beast. Long stretches of trail carved into the side of a cliff. That trail would wrap around and ascend another long stretch of trail. Each trail no more than 4 or 5 feet wide with a near-vertical drop on the outside. There were a series of 4 or 5 of those before we finally got to the tree line and our hope of finding more water. The ranger said the spring was still considered a small flow and during the summer, it is often dry. The spring at the top of the cliff was little more than an algae covered pool of water that trickled over the face of the cliff. We filtered the water, drank deeply and waited to get sick. It never happened thankfully. The filter worked great.

After another 500' climb, we finally reached the plateau where our campsite was located. Level ground! The elevation was 7500' and we reached the campsite after around 6 hours of hiking. We crashed in the shade and went out on a hike after a short nap to check out the views from the West Rim. The trail edges the top of a plateau overlooking some extremely beautiful canyons, narrows, and neighboring plateaus. The previous summer, there was a large wildfire which burned and killed many of the pine trees. We got back after our hike to the junction of the West Rim and Telephone trail and started dinner. We played cards and drank some Jack until the sun went down.

In the morning, we ran out to the West Rim to check out the sunrise over the canyons. At 6:30 or so, the sun was still a little low in the sky and it cast some pretty sizable shadows over everything so we decided to go back to camp and pack up then return for some photography. The wait was worth it. By 7:30 or 8, the sun was high enough to eliminate most shadows but low enough to cast a great light. The shots I've posted were HDR panoramas. I bracketed the shots by 1/3ev and panned across the frame. I think they really capture the beauty of the view.

After the photo-shoot, we grabbed our packs and headed back to the spring for a refill. Our hike down was pretty uneventful and we were thankful for the very same gravity we were cursing 24 hours before. The hike back down to the valley only took us 3 hours.

We got back to the car, took our boots off and set off back to Phoenix. We were back home by 7 or 8PM. I had a great time and we definitely earned the views we were able to enjoy on top. It was harder than I expected and that made the trip much more rewarding. I will be back.
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