Heading east on Zion-Mt. Carmel Hwy from Canyon Junction, as you exit the tunnel, immediately pull over into the Eastbound parking lot on the right. This is a right turn only lot and if you are coming from the east heading west, you must pull over at the westbound side parking area 500 feet just before the trailhead and tunnel. Just across the street from the eastbound lot is the trailhead to the Canyon Overlook Trail, one of Zion’s “best bang for your effort” hikes in the park. With only 163 feet of elevation gain, mostly at the beginning of the hike up some stone stairs, and only 1 mile RT, this trail takes you to one of the best not to miss views down Pine Creek Canyon and into lower Zion Canyon. It’s not unusual for you to see Big Horn Sheep or a variety of lizards along the trail, which features an awesome view down the canyon. Steep drop-offs are shielded in the tricky areas by fences and railings, so good for a family outing.
The trail traverses along a wall (fenced at the most dangerous drop-offs), brings you to a short wooden boardwalk that brings you inside a cavern-like grotto with ferns growing on the walls, then back out across a canyon crevice and some cliff areas to a place with cacti and cool rock formations and one of the most beautiful views down canyon you’ll ever see.
The view is similar to what you get from the top of Angel’s Landing without the effort (or sense of achievement of course), but anyone can do this hike. We’ve already taken this hike twice because it’s so short and gets you quickly to a true Zion experience, and each time we visit, we’ll keep taking it. Our first time we had a lot of wind, but the rock walls sheltered us. All points have great views. It’s a great sampler of everything Zion has to offer (except the Narrows on the river and the adrenaline rush you get grasping the chains on Angel’s Landing) – so don’t miss it! This is an hour well-spent. Check out hike #15 on this Zion National Park map and hiking guide from nps.gov.