This short trail is among the most popular in Zion National Park. Though not as spectacular or well-known as Angels Landing, Canyon Overlook can give you a unique perspective of the area with much less work and fewer heebie-jeebies. The destination is an overlook of Pine Creek Canyon looking westward toward the larger Zion Canyon. In a mere 1-mile round-trip hike you can briefly experience the slickrock hiking for which Zion is famous and enjoy a classic view of part of the national park.
Like the Hidden Canyon Trail, this hike is worth doing for its own sake, but it is also very useful to test whether or not you should take on Angel's Landing. Canyon Overlook does have some drop-offs along the sandstone trail, but most of these are protected by a metal railing. If this traverse over the walls of Pine Creek Canyon feels at all uncomfortable, then Angel's Landing, with its dramatic exposure over sheer cliffs, may not be for you. In addition to the relative security of Canyon Overlook, this trail is much less strenuous than many others in the park. It has a steep and short climb on rock stairs at the very beginning, and then it sustains a gradual incline to the viewpoint. Overall it gains about 150 feet in half a mile.
From the overlook you can see some of Zion's most iconic summits. Bridge Mountain, West Temple, Altar of Sacrifice, Streaked Wall, and The Sentinel are proud relics of prehistoric sand dunes piled on top of each other and solidified over many millions of years. The slick, sandy remains have been eroded over eons by wind and water to sculpt the picture-perfect peaks that are visible today.
People of all ages and physical ability make this hike daily, and the easy access from the main road makes it especially popular. The major drawback is limited parking. There is a small parking lot with bathrooms right across the road from the trailhead, accessible immediately after exiting the Mount Carmel Tunnel. If you are traveling westward, however, you will not be able to turn left into this parking lot; instead you will have to park about 75 yards east of the trailhead in another small lot. These two parking areas are the only nearby options for access, and if they are full you will have to drive further and try coming back shortly. The shuttle buses do not stop here.
If you are driving your own car through Zion, be sure to stop by this destination for relatively easy access to an iconic Zion panorama.