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Trailheadin’: East Rim Trail

Many people think of the American West, and their thoughts turn to vast, unforgiving deserts, hot sun, and cacti. Well, they’re not far off. However, many people, plants, and animals call the West their home and thrive year after year. In fact, this region of the country actually contains some of the most beautiful landscapes and exciting outdoor activities around. This fact brings us to a Trailhead in Utah, where adventurous hikers can embark along the East Rim Trail, found in the legendary Zion National Park.

Located in the Southwestern portion of Utah, Zion National Park is nearly 250-square miles and is home to the Zion Canyon, which runs 15 miles through the park and takes up a good portion of the East Rim Trail’s last leg.

The East Rim Trail is roughly 10 miles one-way (with the aid of a shuttle bus), and twenty if taken as a round trip. Some will venture onto the trail as a lengthy day hike (around 6 hours), but most will backpack the trail. Those opting for a day hike won’t need any permits, but an overnight camping permit is required for those who choose to camp along the trail. It should be noted that, even though the dirt trail is maintained, given the terrain of the area, the East Rim is not for beginners.

East Rim’s trailhead is found near the park’s east entrance, where you’ll also have access to the only restrooms around. The first leg of the hike holds one of the park’s best views—the Checkerboard Mesa—and continues along Clear Creek. From the creek, it climbs around five miles through a pine forest to reach the top of the mesa and provides hikers with a view of Echo Canyon. Some die-hards utilize climbing gear to repel into the canyon to explore, but most are satisfied with the impressive view the East Rim provides. After a flat portion atop the mesa, the remainder the East Rim gradually slopes downward and continues through Zion Canyon until you reach the Weeping Rock parking lot. When the shuttle busses are running, you can take one back to your car. When hiking with friends, most will park one car at the trail’s end and drive to the trailhead together, though.

Ranked as one the best trails in Zion National Park, and consistently voted as one of the most beautiful hikes in Utah, the East Rim Trail is a great hike for any bold outdoorsman. Not only will the heat and demanding terrain of Utah provide you with a rewarding workout, but the majestic beauty of Utah’s landscapes will be well worth any strain or exertion. If you’ve grown tired of tame hikes, this trail might just be the test of your determination and skills you’ve been waiting for. 

Wednesday, October 01, 2014