If you are not sure you are ready for Zion National Park’s challenging Angels Landing Trail but you want to try hanging by a chain that is bolted to a 1,000-foot cliff, then Hidden Canyon may be the route for you! This trail is half the distance and half the vertical gain of Angels Landing, though it doesn’t offer the spectacular down-canyon views. It does offer an excellent trail surface, views that remain remarkable, and the opportunity to explore a narrow “hanging canyon” off the side of the Great White Throne monolith.
Starting at the Weeping Rock Trailhead, serviced by the shuttle buses in season, the first segment of the trail follows wide and long switchbacks for about a mile to the point where the Observation Point Trail heads off to the left and the Hidden Canyon Trail goes right. Once it splits from the Observation Point route the trail becomes sandy and rocky and heads up several short switchbacks until it reaches a stone stairway up the cliff. This marks the beginning of the challenging part of the trail. After climbing the steps, the trail stays mostly level and winds around the contours of the mountain. Along much of this way the trail is carved into a sheer cliff, and railings or chains are bolted to the wall for hikers to use these as they inch their way along. After about 20 minutes of this the canyon itself is reached.
The canyon can be explored for about a half mile, and while it has some obstacles, these are easily conquered. There is a small, free-standing arch at about the 0.4 mile mark, and many hikers use this as a turnaround spot.
On the way down, for the hiker who has a bit of energy left, a short hike up the Observation Point Trail is worthwhile for different views of Zion Canyon.