With bad weather all week and more expected the next few days, Linda and I took a chance on hiking Observation Point in Zion National Park. We figured if we got caught in a downpour it would be better to be on a maintained trail rather than the backcountry. We got a later start than normal, and after finding a parking spot, waiting in the ever growing shuttle line, we finally disembarked at the Weeping Rock trailhead. Weeping Rock is the jump off point for several trails in the area. A short, but steep climb leads to the, ever dripping, Weeping Rock. Bypassing the Weeping Rock trail, Linda and I made our way up the the steep switchbacks of the East Rim Trail.
The views increase at an exponential rate as elevation is gained quickly. Soon we reach a branch in the trail. Hikers right leads to Hidden Valley, a popular trail and one of my favorite short hikes in the area. We continue to the left and switchback and forth until the trail leads into a narrow canyon. The trail is located high on the ledge, with views directly into Echo Canyon. As the canyon floor rises, our trail meets the canyon at a flat sandy area. The East Rim trail continues to rise, but not after amazing views of what a true slot canyon in Zion National Park looks like.
Continuing on the East Rim Trail, we finally reach the junction to Observation Point. A rough, rocky intersection splits the trail with a small sign. One must look closely at the small sign, to find the hand scratched note for Observation Trail. Apparently at the time of posting, Observation Trail wasn't important enough to warrant a spot. As the trail doubles back into the canyon, it soon becomes carved out of solid rock, on the face of the cliff. Stunning views, and we could see people milling around near the wooden structure of Cable Mountain.
The weather continues to hold on our ascent and we reach Observation Point in 2h:45m. Not a record by any means, but the rise is a demanding one and I carried my full pack for additional training.
We had just enough time to take a few pictures before droplets started to fall. We hustled back across the rim (clay trail = slippery when wet). But stopped and ate a very late lunch (2:30 pm) as the storm blew past and we reached the cemented portion of the trail.
The return hike ended up being almost as much work as our ascent, our legs not used to the downhill walk along the trail. The sun dropping lower into the western sky, would on occasion light up the wet cliff face of Cable Mountain in breathtaking fashion.
Observation Point hike is my favorite "maintained" trail in Zion National Park. It is a strenuous long hike with narrow trails along shear cliff faces. But few places in Zion allow for the vertical view that standing on these high plateaus offer.
Per tradition, we stopped at Oscars after the hike where I had one of their wonderful 1/2 pound (never frozen) garlic burgers. Linda enjoys their portobello mushroom wrap and sweet potato fries. We both enjoy their carrot cake for desert.