The Hidden Canyon trail in Zion National Park is a 2.2 mile out and back trail with an average hiking time of three to four hours, with an overall elevation gain around 1000ft. Though the trail is well-maintained, its difficulty is rated as strenuous. The canyon opens up between Cable Mountain and The Great White Throne, and the smooth sandstone switchbacks leading in can be treacherous to all hikers. Most of this section of the trail leading into the canyon is exposed to full sun. Therefore, it is suggested that hikers bring plenty of water and get an early start to beat the heat. The end of the traditional trail culminates at a collection of pools. Depending on rainfall, there may be a small waterfall running into the canyon. Though dangerous, the sheer drop-offs and lack of shade mean this trail can offer a beautiful view of the park below.
The danger and beauty of Hidden Canyon trail walk hand and hand with its genesis. In 1927, hiker William Evans quite literally fell into its discovery while attempting to climb Zion’s most famous landmark, the Great White Throne. In the search for Evans, rescuers discovered the ravine that would later become Hidden Canyon trail. The trail was first opened to visitors in 1928. Hidden Canyon is a hanging canyon, which means instead of reaching all the way down between the two cliff faces it is nestled at a higher altitude between the two. This is because the tributaries of Virgin River do not cut as deep into the mountain.
The real draw of Hidden Canyon lays just beyond the traditional trail in the canyon ravine. Shrouded in greenery, a beautiful twenty-foot natural arch can be easily missed by unsuspecting hikers. For experienced hikers looking for a challenge, half a mile up the ravine there is a bouldering route that emerges atop the canyon plateau. This portion should only be attempted by hikers with advanced technical climbing skills.
The best time to visit Hidden Canyon is from March to October. Visitors can take the shuttle from the Zion Canyon Visitor Center to the trailhead. Later in the year, the path may be impossible to reach due to ice accumulation. Hidden Canyon is a high traffic trail, so expect a crowd especially during the colder fall months.