The Ultimate Quick Guide to Hiking Zion with Kids
Zion National Park has a great assortment of trails that are perfect for the whole family. Whether you are planing to spend a day or a week exploring Zion, this guide will help you figure out what hikes to put at the top of your list if you have kiddos in tow.
Trails in the main canyon
These are all trails that you will get to via the shuttle bus from March-November. If you are visiting during the short time of year that the shuttle is not going, you will be able to drive into the canyon, but please be aware that there is very limited parking.
This hike is a great hike to do first on your list and first thing in the morning. You will take the shuttle all the way through the park (45 mins) and get a wonderful scenic view of the canyon. At the very last stop, Temple of Sinawava, you will get off. The hike is about 2 miles round trip with very little uphill and a nice paved trail. There is also a trail that goes right along the river. It isn't paved and is usually less crowded. I recommend doing this on the way there or the way back since it gives you a different view. The end of this hike is the start of The Narrows.
This isn't really a hike, but it is a great place to play along the river and do some exploring. It is the Big Bend shuttle stop and is second to the last stop on the shuttle. Lots of times you will see wild turkeys running around. There is a trail that you can follow along the river. You can follow this trail all the way to the Weeping Rock shuttle stop.....or even further. A great thing to do if you are tired of crowds.
This is a fun and very quick hike (only 1/4th mile round trip). The trail is quite steep, but given its length, it is still very doable with kids. Once you get to the end of the hike, there are hanging gardens that are continually moist due to constant water flow from the canyons above. You also get some pretty amazing views. Don't forget to check out the little stream at the bottom of the trailhead.
One of the most popular hikes in the park. I recommend doing this one late in the day or first thing in the morning to beat the crowds. It is right across from the Zion Lodge. It is 2 1/2 miles round trip, and there is a decent amount of incline.....especially to get to the Upper Emerald Pool. If you just want to go to the Lower Emerald Pools with the kids, it is still totally worth it. I recommend doing the Kayenta trail on your way back out for different views. This will take you to The Grotto stop that is just one stop up from The Lodge. BTW you can't swim in any of the pools so no need to plan for water play.
SAND BENCH LOOP TRAIL
This trail is advertised as a horse trail but the way I like to do this hike you are only on horse trail for less than 1/2 mile. This is a great hike to get away from the crowds! You get off on the Court of the Patriarchs stop (stop # 3) and cross the street to the river. You will walk past a horse stable and a watershed and then you will come to a bridge. You should do some exploring around here even if you don't do the hike. For the hike, you will cross the bridge and go to your right. The trail is sandy, so it is a little hard to walk in. You will pass an area where there are wood posts for horses to be tied up. As long as you don't take any paths going to the right and always go to the left, you will loop back around to the bridge where you started. I have never come across any other people on this hike!!!
Trails on the East side of Zion
These are all trails that you will drive to. The east side of Zion tends to be a little less crowded and also a little cooler.