The West Rim Trail
Considered by many to be the most scenic backcountry trail in Zion, the West Rim Trail begins at Lava Point and traverses the entire length of the Horse Pasture Plateau before abruptly descending into the depths of Zion Canyon near Zion Lodge. It can be done as long day hike but it is recommended that it be enjoyed as an overnight trip so as to better take in all of the vistas and overlooks along this breathtaking route. From the heights along the trail hikers can look down into the canyons of North Creek, Phantom Valley, Imlay Canyon and the eroded slot of the Virgin River Narrows. There are a few springs along the trail and you must camp in designated sites that require a backcountry permit.
The Granddaddy-Zion's Grand Traverse
This is the granddaddy of Zion Hikes. This hike lets you see it all, or at least gives you a peak into Zion's real backcountry. This trek begins at the extreme Northwestern end of the park in Kolob Canyons at the Lee Pass Trailhead. You venture through La Verkin Creek with a side foray to the Kolob Arch, continue through Hop Valley to the Connecter Trail which takes you to Wildcat Canyon. From here drop down onto the West Rim Trail past Angels Landing to the floor of Zion Canyon.
Those hearty and true continue up the East Rim Trail to Zion National Parks East Entrance. If you choose this quest you will travel approximately 48.3mi/77.73km. This collection of trails winds a path through amazingly diverse scenery with fabulous views around every corner. This is truly the granddaddy of backpacking trips to be had in Zion. For those of you who are not masochists you might consider stopping short at the Grotto after descending from the West Rim and call this the end of your journey. This cuts 11.4 miles and 1000ft of elevation gain from your journey and puts you a shuttle ride away from great food and a much deserved cocktail.
The Zion Virgin River Narrows
This trip traverses the entire 16-mile length of the Zion Narrows of the North Fork of the Virgin River. You begin at Chamberlain's Ranch north of the park boundary and descend into what is probably the most spectacular slot canyon on the planet. In places the walls tower over 2000 feet overhead and the walls are as little as 40 feet across. This is truly a one of a kind spectacle of nature that will take your breath away. Whether done as a day or overnight hike it requires special preparation due to the possibility of flash flooding, exposure to cold water, and the potential for twisted or broken knees and ankles. This hike needs to be taken seriously as this a wilderness environment.
You can save yourself a three-hour roundtrip drive by making reservations with Zion Rock Shuttle to take you and your fellow adventurers to Chamberlain's Ranch to begin the hike. Call 434 772 3303 to make a reservation. Shuttles leave daily at 6:00 & 9:00 AM.
La Verkin Creek (from Lee Pass)
This trailhead is located 3.5 miles from the Kolob Canyons Visitor's Center and is the northern terminus of Zion's backcountry trail system. From here the trail descends into LaVerkin Creek the principal drainage in this section of the park. Hiking destinations include the Kolob Arch, Beartrap Canyon, Willis Creek and Hop Valley. From here it is a 15-mile roundtrip hike to the arch, which is the largest arch in the world. It takes about 5-6 hours and is well worth the huffing and puffing required to hike back up to Lee Pass at the end. There are many backcountry campsites along this trail where water is available year round in LaVerkin Creek. You can obtain more information from Zion Rock and Guide on the options available for a variety of backcountry trips in this area. Permits are required for all overnight trips in the Zion backcountry.