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The Ultimate Quick Guide to Hiking Zion with Kids

Zion National Park has tons of great hiking for the whole family. Hiking with kids can be so much fun. It forces you to slow down, smell the flowers, check out allllllll the things, climb, play and most importantly have fun. When visiting Zion you need to have funnnnnn!

We know that when planning to go hiking with kids it's super important to know how long the hike is, how hard the hike is, and how interactive the hike is. That is why we have put together this quick guide to help you plan your Zion adventure with kids in tow.


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.


UNDERSTANDING THE PARK

There are 4 sections of Zion and all 4 sections have great hikes for kids. I will give you ideas for drive time if you are staying in Springdale. Springdale is the little town located right next to Zion. This is the most convenient place to stay when visiting the main canyon and East Zion. If you stay in a different location the driving times will be a little different.


THE MAIN CANYON

This section of Zion is 5 minutes from Springdale, it is only accessible via shuttle the majority of the year and is the busiest of all the areas of the park.

Best Hikes with kids

  • Riverside Walk

  • The Narrows

  • Emerald Pools

  • Sand Bench Loop


KOLOB CANYONS

45 minutes north/west of Springdale. Has a small visitor center/entrance station. It’s a small section of the park but packs a punch with amazing towering red rock cliffs.

Best Hikes with kids

  • Taylor Creek

  • Timber Creek Overlook


KOLOB TERRACE

This area is 30-45 minutes west of Springdale and your best option for getting away from the crowds.

Best Hikes with kids

  • Northgate Peaks Trail

  • Lambs Knoll


EAST ZION

Located just above the main canyon and 20 minutes from Springdale. You get a totally different look than the main canyon with lots of options for off the beaten path hiking.

Best Hikes with kids

  • Canyon Overlook

  • Many Pools

  • Clear Creek


BONUS HIKES

These are a few great hikes that are located just outside the main canyon, close the the Visitor Center and Springdale. No shuttle needed.

  • Pa'Rus Trail

  • The Watchman Trail

  • Lower Pine Creek Falls


Trails in the Main Canyon

Only accessible via shuttle the majority of the year

RIVERSIDE WALK

  • Distance - 2.5 miles round trip

  • Difficulty - Easy with no elevation gain

  • Fun Factor - Lots of opportunities for water play, climbing and exploring along the trail & river.

This 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. There is a sand trail that runs parallel to the paved trail and is usually less crowded. The end of this hike is the start of The Narrows.

RELATED: Hiking the Riverside Walk Trail in Zion National Park


THE NARROWS

  • Distance - 2.5 miles RT on Riverside Walk and then hike the river into The Narrows as long as you want. Turn around and come back the way you came.

  • Difficulty - Walking over the slippery wet rocks can be hard for kids.

  • Fun Factor - such a fun hike for kids in the summer.

The Narrows starts once you step off the paved trail of Riverside Walk. Bring walking sticks for added support. Plan to go slow. Take lots of snacks and plan plenty of time for the kids to play in the water


RELATED: 10 TIPS FOR HIKING THE NARROWS WITH KIDS

EMERALD POOLS

  • Distance - 1 mile round trip for the lower pool. 1.25 miles for the lower pool and 2.5 miles round trip for the upper pool.

  • Difficulty - There is a decent amount of incline on this trail.

  • Fun factor - The waterfalls and stream make this hike super fun for kids.

One of the most popular hikes in the park. It is located right across from the Zion Lodge. 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 swimming suites.

SAND BENCH LOOP TRAIL

  • Distance - 1 mile round trip

  • Difficulty - There is deep sand which can be hard to walk through.

  • Fun factor - You might run into horses on the trail, there is also a little stream to play in.

This is a great hike to get away from the crowds! It is a short loop trail that takes you along a little stream and a horse corral. There are plenty of area for kids to run and play in the sand. I highly recommend taking a lunch and hanging out by the river for the afternoon or evening.

RELATED: Hiking the Sand Bench Loop Trail in Zion National Park

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.

CANYON OVERLOOK

  • Distance - 1.25 miles round trip

  • Difficulty - Some elevation gain but pretty easy. The trail is rocky with deep sand in some spots.

  • Fun factor - This hike has some cool features like a 1/2 cave, catwalk bridge, and lots of areas for climbing the sandstone rocks.

The is a fun and short hike with kids and packs a major punch at the end with the most epic views. At the overlook area, you have to make sure to keep your kiddos close because there are lots of sheer drop-offs. The hike can get very busy and parking can be very hard to find so plan accordingly.

RELATED: Hiking Canyon Overlook Trail - Zion National Park

CLEAR CREEK

  • Distance - You can hike as little or as much as you want.

  • Difficulty - You will take some short and steep paths down to the dry stream bed. The sand can be deep and hard to walk in.

  • Fun Factor - Lots of areas to run, play and explore.

Clear Creek does not have an actual starting point or end point. As you drive along Route 9 on the upper east side of Zion, you will see the dry creek bed down below. There are pull-offs all along the drive. Pick a spot to pull off and go exploring. The best spots to pull over will start about 1/4 mile east of the Canyon Overlook parking lot.

RELATED: Exploring Clear Creek - Zion National Park

MANY POOLS

  • Distance - You can make this hike as long or as short as you want

  • Difficulty - You will be walking up the sandstone for the first part of the hike and down the sandstone for coming back.

  • Fun factor - This is all about running and getting out some energy on the endless sandstone.

Many Pools is not an official trail, so it is a great option for getting away from crowds. The start of this trail is .9 miles east of the smaller tunnel.Follow the wash all the way up the canyon for beautiful sandstone and interesting pothole formations. You can make this hike as long or as short as you would like. Hiking shoes with good traction are needed. There is very little shade along this trail so do not attempt in the heat of the day.


TRAILS IN KOLOB CANYONS

Kolob Canyons is smaller section of Zion that is 45 minutes from Springdale. There is a small ranger station and the short drive to the top of the canyon is stunning.


Taylor Creek

  • Distance - 5.5 miles round trip

  • Difficulty - The trail does have some elevation gain. The path is dirt and rocky in some areas. It's not an easy trail but also not a difficult trail.

  • Fun Factor - You are walking along a small stream the majority of the hike which makes it super fun for kids in the summer. The trail is beautiful and the double arch alcove at the end is a great spot for lunch and snacks.

This hike is the longest one on the list but it is a beautiful and fun hike in the summer. There are two historic cabins along the trail that are intresting. The double arch alcove at the end is a great spot for lunch and snacks. Even if the kiddos don't make it all the way to the end it is worth it to hike along the stream for a ways and enjoy the scenery.


Timber Creek Overlook

  • Distance - 1 mile round trip

  • Difficulty - A sandy and flat trail with a few short rocky hills

  • Fun Factor - The hike is short and keeps the kids engaged.

The views on this hike are stunning. This is the perfect quick hike with kids to experience the beautiful sandstone cliffs of Kolob Canyon.


TRAILS ALONG KOLOB TERRACE

A smaller section of Zion that is 45 minutes from Springdale.


Northgate Peaks Trail

  • Distance - 4.5 miles round trip

  • Difficulty - This is a flat and easy trail

  • Fun Factor - This trail is all about the hiking with some beautiful sandstone peaks and back country views of Zion and the surrounding area.

The hike is along a flat ponderosa forest for 2 miles so it can be a little boring for the kiddos. The trail rewards you with beautiful and unique views of Zion peaks and back country canyons. This is the area of Zion that most people don't see. It's worth it to get off the beaten path.


Lambs Knoll

  • Distance - 1/2 mile round trip

  • Difficulty - There is deep sand but this is a short and easy hike

  • Fun Factor - This hike is prime for lots or running and exploring. The little slot canyon is a favorite for kids.

Lambs Knoll is an area along Kolob Terrace road that is popular for rock climbing and canyoneering. With kids it is a super fun area to explore and play. The hike is short and leads you to a small and tight slot canyon. There are picnic tables so take a lunch or dinner and make it a fun afternoon adventure.


BONUS TRAILS

These are all trails in the lower section of Zion, but they are accessible without needing to use the Shuttle.

LOWER PINE CREEK FALLS

  • Distance - 3/4 miles round trip

  • Difficulty - Some tricky rock scrambling, walking on ledges, climbing through tight spaces, and stream hoping.

  • Fun factor - Such a fun hike in the summer. Hiking along the creek is fun for kids and the pool/waterfall area at the end is perfect for swimming and water play.

This hike isn't advertised by the park, so chances of having some solitude are good if you go first thing in the morning or later in the day. The parking area for this hike is right before the bridge that takes you up to the Carmel Tunnel. The trail starts right by the parking area. You will take it all the way back until you reach a beautiful waterfall.

RELATED: Lower Pine Creek Falls - Secret Waterfall Hike in Zion National Park

THE PA'RUS TRAIL

  • Distance - Walk as long as you want and then turn around and walk back.

  • Difficulty - This trail is more of a stroll than a hike. It is a paved trail with no elevation gain and a few paths down to the river.

  • Fun Factor - The kids will appreciate taking paths down to the river to play along the river.

Starts at the visitor center, goes past the south campground and along the Virgin River. It is a great trail for a leisurely evening stroll with the kiddos. We love making frequent stops and playing along in the river. Also a fun trail to rent bikes and and ride.

RELATED: Biking the Pa'Rus trail in Zion National Park

THE WATCHMAN TRAIL

  • Distance - 3 miles round trip

  • Difficulty - There is a lot of uphill on this trail.

  • Fun factor - It's all about hiking with this trail. Lots of area to run and explore at the top.

This trail has very little shade, and a decent elevation gain so don't try it in the middle of the day in the summer heat. Has beautiful views of the Watchman mountain at the top. To get there, you will start at the visitor center and head towards the south campground. Walk along the east side of the Virgin River. The trail will veer away from the river and past some employee housing. The trailhead will be just past the housing.

RELATED: Hiking the Watchman Trail - Zion National Park


Remember, fun is the top priority when hiking Zion with kids.


Happy hiking,

Arika


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