|West Rim Trail—In And Out
Length: 10 miles round trip
Trail Map: Zion National Park Trails Illustrated - Buy
Description: A long, tremendous hike with awesome vistas of some of the most breathtaking mountains, canyons, and forests that Zion has to offer, challenging ascents, and even snow in the middle of the summer heat, West Rim Trail has a lot to offer.
The West Rim Trail is a seasonal backpacking trail that takes visitors south from Lava Point Campground, trekking across the large Horse Pasture Plateau, then down toward Angels Landing and the Grotto Picnic Area. Part of the trek, a valley tucked in between the plateau and Mount Majestic, called Little Siberia, becomes impassable due to snow and ice during the colder months. Though it is possible to march the entire length of the route in one day, most visitors make it a two-day trip, camping either at Potato Hollow or Cabin Springs, purifying water as they go. A permit is required to camp within the park.
You can do part of the route as an out-and-back hike, going five miles up the West Rim Trail and then returning the way you came in. This option begins at the Grotto Picnic Area, taking hikers up the switchbacks to Scouts Lookout on the way to Angels Landing. From Scouts Lookout, the West Rim Trail heads north, below the immense bulk of Cathedral Mountain, and then swings northwest toward the junction between Imlay Canyon and Telephone Canyon. Instead of trying to ascend the plateau by way of the cliffs of Telephone, hikers follow the base of Cathedral Mountain and Mount Majestic to the right, and then go west until they reach Little Siberia. From that point, a saddle separates Little Siberia from Behunin Canyon on the other side of Mount Majestic, and leads to the switchbacks that provide access to Horse Pasture Plateau. Atop the plateau, where Telephone Canyon carves its way over the steep cliffs, there is a camping area called Cabin Springs by some, West Rim Springs by others, where visitors can rest, purify water, and prepare for the hike back. Overall the in-and-out requires 2,500 feet of elevation gain, though a decent amount of that is spread out on switchbacks and between level valley strolls.
The trail begins across the river from the Grotto Picnic Area. It travels over pretty level terrain until you hit the switchbacks that take you up to Refrigerator Canyon. Water is available at the tralhead, as well as relaxing shade, and the shuttle system that can take visitors to other attractions, or to the park entrance.
Refrigerator Canyon leads to Walters Wiggles, a famous set of switchbacks that climb to the top of Scouts Lookout. From here hikers can either head north to the West Rim Trail, or west to Angels Landing.
North Slope of Mount Majestic
Mount Majestic hides behind the bulk of Cathedral Mountain until hikers summit Scouts Lookout. At that point, the Mount is visible just behind and to the right of Cathedral. Little Siberia is just around the bend as the trail follows the base of Cathedral Mountain and Mount Majestic.
This valley is known to have snow and ice in the middle of summer, and during winter months is dangerous, and generally considered impassable even with equipment.
Cabin Spring (West Rim Spring)
This is the southernmost of the authorized camping areas for backpackers who have come down from Lava Point. It is one of several heavily wooded areas along the West Rim Trail. This is the very southern tip of the enormous Horse Pasture Plateau, a—mostly—level formation that stretches from this point, all the way north to Lava Point, and is riddled with forested hollows, canyons, and valleys all along its length.