East Mesa Trail is a subtle and quite hike that takes you through an isolated ponderosa pine forest on the upper east side of Zion with big payoffs at the end. The views from Observation Point are some of the best in Zion National Park. Most visitors hike the strenuous 8-mile Observation Point Trail to experience these epic views, completely unaware that East Mesa Trail offers a much less crowded route that is not as long and not nearly as strenuous.
6.6 miles round trip and can be completed in 2.5-3.5 hrs going at a steady pace.
The well-worn trail meanders along with mild elevation gain out and back. It isn't flat but there are no intense switchbacks. This is a hike that I would feel comfortable taking kids on as long as they are good at going longer distances. I am in ok shape and I think I would be able to carry a baby on my back for this hike as well.
This trail is located on the upper east side of Zion National Park. You will drive on a paved and clearly marked road towards Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort. Once you pass Zion Ponderosa you will drive 3 miles on a dirt road for the remainder of the drive. There are signs along the road past Zion Ponderosa that will point you to Observation Point. It will take you about 10 minutes to drive to the trailhead from Zion Ponderosa. If you are driving after a rainstorm or in the winter/spring the road may be very muddy or icy and impassible in a regular car. Park and walk the remainder of the road or hire a service to take you there at Zion Ponderosa or at one of the outfitters in Springdale. Click here for map and directions.
Much of the trail is through a ponderosa pine forest. It is sandy and a bit rocky. It is beautiful but it does get a little monotonous because the scenery doesn't change much. Keep going, the views at the end are more than worth it. About 1 mile from Observation Point you will start to see views and the trail gets a little more interesting and enjoyable. At Observation Point make sure you look down the canyon and you will be able to see the famous Angels Landing Trail. It is so cool seeing the Angels Landing trail from above. Scroll through for tips and additional info.
Good To Know
There is no water fill station or bathroom at the trailhead.
Tips and Additional Info
If you hire a shuttle to take you to the East Mesa trailhead you can hike all the way down to the bottom of the canyon. This is a great way to go because the Observation Point trail is a really fun and beautiful hike. Shuttles can be hired at many of the outfitters in Springdale.
Bring bug spray. In the summer the flies can get pretty bad and they are very annoying.
Wear good hiking shoes and bring plenty of water and snacks
This hike does not have a lot of shade in the summer so best to go early or later in the day and bring a headlamp.
East Mesa trail is a great way to beat the crowds in Zion. It is also a great way to watch sunrise or sunset at Observation Point. Most visitors will be hiking to Observation Point from the bottom via the shuttles and this does not allow them to go super early for sunrise or stay late for sunset so chances are you will have the place to yourself......yay!!!
Consider staying at Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort for the night and hiking East Mesa Trail first thing in the morning. The trailhead is only a 10-minute drive fom the resort.
Related: A Family Stay At Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort in Zion National Park
Related: Camping at Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort - On my own