Southern Utah trails are a hiker’s dream. And if you’re up for more of a challenge you will find thousands of immersive trails that take you deep into the soul of The Mighty Five. From day trips to week-long stretches of adventuring, there is plenty to explore.
For canyoneering, rappelling, downclimbing, and rope work, experts love Zion National Park. Some parts of Zion National Park are frequented by large amounts of tourists, so it’s important to plan ahead, watch the weather, and secure any permits that may be needed before hiking certain trails. For more popular routes, we recommend catching shuttles and starting the climb early in the morning to beat the seasonal rush of tourist hikers and avoid trail bottlenecks.
We frequently post about family-friendly activities but this list is dedicated to those that are daring and want a “strenuous”-category adventure. Here are our five top picks that include four Zion trails and one Bryce Canyon trail — all easy drives from Zennest’s Duck Creek Village location
Best trails in Southern Utah for experienced hikers:
- Angels Landing – The Holy Grail of Southern Utah-iconic hikes includes teetering elevation. Also known as the Temple of Aeolus, Angels Landing is a Navajo sandstone centerpiece of Zion National Park, soaring 1,488-feet into the sky. Hikers must brave a sandstone trail along the crest of the formation with just a chain on one side to use as a hold. The trail seems to tough the sky, hence its name — requiring a steady foot and heart. Not recommended for young children, anyone who is afraid of heights, or the casual tourist-hiker.
- Observation Point – This paved trail is 8 miles roundtrip, ascending to 2,000 feet. Observation Point includes stunning, all-encompassing views of Zion Canyon’s valley. The trail forks from East Rim Trail and begins an ascent of Mount Baldy which is flat at the summit. Observation Point is a more difficult trail but also a safer substitute to Angels Landing; it includes equally stunning scenery.
- The Subway – The Subway trail in Zion National Park is a strenuous 9-mile, round-trip hike. Glimmering slot canyons reward those that are ready to rappel down 60 feet of canyon walls and navigate a complex route. The Subway also includes swimming through deep pools of cold water to reach the destination. This trail requires a permit to travel, so make sure to secure it in advance.
- Zion Narrows – This is every Zion visitor’s favorite hike. The Narrows is essentially the Virgin River, winding and twisting through Zion National Park. Named because it is the narrowest section of the gorge, this canyon hike requires getting the feet wet because the trail is the water. The hike can be bottom-up or top-down. Flash flooding is the most common danger associated with this hike and is frequently an issue in late spring and summer. Make sure to check the weather before venturing in.
- Fairyland Loop, Bryce Canyon National Park – This hike is a long and wandering path that begins at Fairyland Point, winding through hoodoos and past Tower Bridge; it also includes part of the Rim Trail from Sunset Point to Fairyland Point. This 8-mile hike can take up a morning or afternoon and is categorized as “strenuous” because of the multiple elevation changes and length of the trail.
The Mighty Five are truly a bucket list destination of parks and with trails for the advanced outdoorsman, they hold a special kind of majesty and allure of adventure. We recommend finding more climbing tips at Utah.com and Joe’s Guide to Zion National Park.