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Best hike with limitations

Lexington
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Best hike with limitations

We're going to be in Zion in early April for a couple of days. As much as we'd love to spend 48 hours crawling all over the park, our situation doesn't quite allow us to do the things we used to do any more as my partner was diagnosed with MS a few years ago. Given she now has limited energy and balance, I'd love to find a hike that gives us as much bang for our buck as I can. Angels Landing would have been ideal a few years ago, but just not an option now. I thought maybe Riverside Walk would be an option, or maybe Canyon Overlook Trail..but wanted to see if there are other options that offer great views that might fit the bill. I wondered if doing part of Observation Point would be worth it - or if we'd be better off spending our energy elsewhere?

Anyone have any suggestions?

Thanks! :)

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Kipling. SK
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1. Re: Best hike with limitations

Riverside Walk is a paved and flat trail that goes North from the end of the scenic drive further up the canyon. It is along the river and is basically the door to the Narrows.

Emerald Pools lower has some more terrain, and is a nice one to two hour stroll in the middle of Zions main Canyon, starting from the lodge. You have the option of continuing along the Kayenta trail from the end of the lower Emerald Pools hike. Kayenta takes you to the grotto. From the grotto you can walk along the roadway (grotto path),or the river back to the lodge.

Canyon Overlook is a little more demanding due to the terrain, but is a nice short hike offering views of the side canyon that SR9 and Clear Creek travels through.

All three of these hikes I consider essential to a quick visit to the park. Emerald pools and Riverside walk trailheads are accessed via the mandatory shuttle in April. Canyon Overlook is accessed from the trailhead located just East of the Zion Mt Carmel tunnel on SR 9. You take your vehicle to this spot/trailhead

Observation point is accessed via the east rim trail that starts at Weeping Rock. It is not to be taken lightly, as it is strenuous at the start due to the rapid changing elevation.

Easier than East Rim trail is West Rim Trail, which leads up to Scouts Lookout and the start of the Angel's landing Spur. West Rim trail is what I would choose if you want to do a partial trail, and if you have some leftover energy from the first three hikes.

So if you start early, hike Canyon Overlook first, as the parking lot may be full later on. Then park at canyon Junction and travel to the Temple of Sinawava, and walk the river pathway. Then shuttle to the lodge, and take the Emerald Pools Pathwat. Continue on the Kayenta towards the West Rim trailhead/Grotto. Once you reach the bridge at the West Rim trailhead, you can then decide to continue up the canyon at this point(towards Walter Wiggles/Scouts Lookout/Refridgerator Canyon/AL spur), or head back to the lodge as described above.

Check out these websites for more descriptions on the hikes>> zionnational-park.com/hiking-zion-national-p…

http://www.citrusmilo.com/zionguide/

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Salt Lake City, Utah
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2. Re: Best hike with limitations

The best one hike I would take for a look at Zions would be the Riverside Walk. It is about a mile one way, fairly level. If that is too much you don't have to go all the way and there are some benches along the way to rest (though not nearly enough imo :-) I could have used them after our Narrows hike).

Another fairly level hike not too strenuous is the Kayenta Trail. As mentioned it connects up with the Emerald Pools trails... I personally would take it from the Grotto toward Emerald Pools. It is elevated just enough above the trees and canyon floor that you get some really nice views of the canyon. Though because it is elevated there is some short elevation change, don't know if that will be a problem. This is a nice hike when the shuttles are running as you can take it one way. You do need to take the Emerald Pools hike back out to the road and there is some elevation change and negotiation that is needed for that. I think total Kayenta and Lower Emerald Pools is a little over a mile.

AND then if you feel like you can manage it the Canyon Overlook trail would be beautiful in the morning. There is a slight elevation change at the beginning that you might need to go slowly on, but it is pretty level after that. Again a mile one way making it 2 miles rt. You do need to go to the end of this one for the views.

There are various other paths that are not very strenuous such as the Pa'rus and Watchman, but they have less scenic value than the others and would be secondary imo.

Another trail you might like though it might not be open in April is the Northgate trail on the Kolob Terrace road. It is about a mile as well and has some nice views of the mesa tops.

I do not think the views from the Observation trail would be worth the energy to get up high enough to get them. It is a fairly steep hike especially at the beginning.

Zions in April is wonderful. Even just sitting at the lodge or near the river is a wonderful activity. Be sure to visit the History Museum and see if there is a ranger program as well that you could join.

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Lexington
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3. Re: Best hike with limitations

Thanks for all the information!

Wildmarsh - I appreciate your optimism for the amount of territory we'll be able to cover! :) Unfortunately, I'm not sure that the max amount of walking won't be in the couple mile range at best. Really frustrating as we love hiking so much - but at least it's something!

Kbecjeans - thanks for all the details. I had been thinking we may try Observation Point and just go as far as we can, but after reading what you have to say, we may not make it far enough along that trail to make it worth the energy. If we overdo it, she'll pay for days, and we'll be at Zion for the first part of our trip. It sounds like that hike has so much elevation change at the beginning that it could make her miserable for the rest of the trip. It sounds like the Kayenta Trail may be a good middle ground for us - maybe not quite so "civilized" as Riverside :), with decent views - without the overdoing it of the Observation Trail.

Kayenta wasn't one that I had come across yet (or remember coming across!) so thanks to both of you for the suggestion. Sounds like we have a few options between that and Canyon Overlook and we'll always have Riverside to fall back on (nice to know there are benches along the way!).

Thanks again!

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New York City, New...
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4. Re: Best hike with limitations

Hi Onewoman.

From what you wrote about your partner's current status, I take it she can still handle walking for about 2 miles as long as it's in areas where a little stumbling wouldn't be an issue. Canyon Overlook is easy, but there are some sections that skirt the cliffs pretty closely. I'd make a stop there and walk up a little for the nice view of the Great Arch, but I'd be nervous about proceeding to the actual overlook as I definitely wouldn't want your partner to stumble while skirting the cliffs.

Emerald Pools (Kayenta is simply another path to the Emerald Pools trail, and I like it very much - great views down canyon) I'm on the fence about how to advise you. There's quite enough room for people without balance issues, but you still wouldn't want to stumble the wrong way at certain points, and it is above canyon level. I will point out that I'd hate for your partner to miss it if she can still handle it. The short Weeping Rock trail is steep, but I doubt that a stumble would be disasterous, so I'd say your partner should give it a try if she's having a good day. If you guys would like a closer look at the Watchman (the jagged peak near the south entrance), I also think it would be somewhat difficult to do too much damage to yourself on the Watchman trail if you're being careful, so that's a judgement call too. Due to lack of cover, it's adviseable to do the Watchman early morning or right before dusk. Of course, if your partner started thinking the cliffs were beginning to get too close for comfort, you could always turn around on Emerald/Kayenta or Watchman.

So, of the easy to moderate trails, that leaves Riverwalk and Pa'rus. By all means do Riverwalk! It's on ground level, and you start off at the Temple of Sinawava (note "The Pulpit" - you can't miss it!) pass a desert swamp before the end, which is the beginning of the famous Narrows. I didn't do Pa'rus myself, but since it's wheelchair accessible presumably that's another can-do for your partner. Do note that it's also the only trail where dogs are allowed.

Hope this helps, and have fun!

Edited: 20 March 2013, 17:08
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Lexington
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5. Re: Best hike with limitations

Thanks so much, bardgirl! Your detail is great! Very helpful for drawing up some options for her to pick from given some days are better than others. Makes it hard to figure out your limitations when they are so variable from day to day! I appreciate the info re the steep areas or where skirting the cliffs very tightly. When you have balance issues, those areas look a lot more daunting - and that sorta takes the fun out of the whole thing. Will bring a trekking pole if I can fit it in the bag, that might help with some of the balance concerns too. Hmmm...I wonder how the airport would deal with a trekking pole as a walking aid. Wouldn't have to try to fit it in the luggage that way...

Thanks again for all the great info! :)

Kipling. SK
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6. Re: Best hike with limitations

The parus trail is flat and paved. It follows the river along the canyon bottom, and more or less starts from the pedestrian park access at Springdale and the park Visitor Center. It then proceeds North towards Canyon Junction, past the South Campground. There is a side pathway that leads to the Human History Museum. Near the visitor center is also the spur pathway leading towards the watchman If the leaves are out on the Cottonwoods? it can make for a peaceful walk.

If you are looking for hiking accessories like poles, sticks, packs, etc. then there are a few outfitters in town that can help you out.

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South Campground
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7. Re: Best hike with limitations

Pa'arus trail is one of my favorites especially late afternoon before sunset.

8. Re: Best hike with limitations

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