Watchman Trail, The Watchman Trailhead, Zion National Park, Utah
Watchman Trail - 2.8 Miles
The Watchman Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||2.8 Miles (with an optional .4 mile loop at the official trail terminus)|
|Start-End Elevation:||3,965' - 4,405' (4,410' max elevation)|
|Elevation Change:||+440' net elevation gain (+560' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
The Watchman Trail climbs a series of moderate switchbacks to a bluff beneath Bridge Mountain that provides sensational, panoramic views of lower Zion Canyon. Many notable landmarks are visible throughout this hike.
Morning revelers will enjoy well-lit westerly views of The West Temple (7,800'), The Sundial 7,590'), Altar of Sacrifice (7,505'), The Beehives and Meridian Tower (7,340'). These landmarks collectively form a remarkable south-north formation known as the Towers of the Virgin.
Late afternoon visitors will enjoy a surreal illumination of Bridge Mountain (6,803') and the formidable Watchman Spire (6,545').
The trail begins on a flat path that closely follows the Virgin River for a short time. It crosses a service road at .25 miles and begins a winding, steady climb up the hillside. While the trail itself is well-groomed and rather featureless, views in all directions improve with each step. Of note are a few mature prickly pear patches and a nicely vegetated drainage crossing near the trail's end.
The main trail ends on a flat, red-dirt bluff high above the canyon floor (1.4 miles : 4,405'). Views in all directions are incredible, and a good map will help you identify the many named landmarks visible from this position.
A few additional steps lead to an optional .4 mile loop trail that circles the bluff area. It's well worth exploring this easy (albeit more rugged) loop, for the additional perspective on the area it provides.
For the restless, The Watchman Trail is also a terrific full-moon hike!
GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84View these GPS points on a Google Map
- N37 12.050 W112 59.169 — The Watchman Trailhead
- Despite good trail maintenance, caution - especially with small children - is a must. Be aware of steep drop-offs and unstable cliff edges, especially when moisture of any kind is present.
- The Watchman Trail is highly exposed - carry sun protection and plenty of water.
- A good map - and even a little pre-hike education from the nearby visitor center - will help you identify and better appreciate many points of interest in Zion Canyon.
- The Watchman Trail was completed in 1934. At one time there was talk about extending the trail into Parunuweap Canyon but environmental conditions would not allow further construction.
No shuttle is needed to access this trail. Park at the Zion Canyon Visitor Center. A Trailhead sign is located just north of the main parking lot's access road. .
Backcountry Info, Camping & Permits Desk (including camping in the Narrows)