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West Rim Trail: Out-and-Back Day Hike

Zion National Park

The West Rim Trail takes hikers away from the crowds.

Hiking Difficult

12 km
747 m
747 m
3-4 hrs
Low Point
1.3 km
High Point
1.8 km
West Rim Trail: Out-and-Back Day Hike Map

The West Rim hike begins at the Grotto shuttle stop (#6). In Zion National Park, hikers use the free shuttle to get to many trailheads. The shuttles run most of the year, excepting January 1st – February 15th. Check online before planning your trip to Zion, as there are periodic changes to the schedule.


This 10-mile roundtrip route provides a sampler of the many faces of Zion, including the amazing “Walter's Wiggles,” Scout Lookout, the start of the infamous Angels Landing, and remote singletrack that leaves the crowds behind.

Starting from The Grotto, head across the pedestrian bridge spanning the Virgin River, turning right onto the wide, concrete West Rim Trail. This trail heads steadily upward as the sheer drop-off becomes more pronounced. For those unaccustomed to heights and exposure, staying close to the wall is helpful. Another way to deal with the fear is to let the stunning views distract you.

Soon, the route heads away from the drop-offs as it turns in to cool Refrigerator Canyon. Here, the climb moderates into a fairly gentle grade that allows weary hikers to catch their breath and take a picture or two before undertaking “Walter's Wiggles.”

The infamous “Walter's Wiggles” is the name of the 21 switchbacks that climb steeply up to Scout Lookout. This segment of the route is a seriously impressive feat of engineering and untold amounts of cement! The maintenance required on such a trail is mind-boggling and hikers may well encounter park workers navigating a riding power-wheelbarrow, mixing cement, and replacing old sections. Be sure to thank them; they do arduous work!

At Scout Lookout, the majority of the huge number of people who have been hiking up will head toward the iconic Angels Landing. Angels Landing is known as a thrill-seeking, chained route across an extremely narrow, exposed ridge.

A very few will instead continue on the West Rim Trail, leaving the hordes of people behind. Once the West Rim Trail leaves Scout Lookout, Zion becomes a wonderland of spectacular scenery to be enjoyed in solitude.

The entire length of the West Rim Trail is 14 miles (28 miles roundtrip), making it more typically a backpacking route. For day hikers, it can be hiked as far as desired before simply turning around and heading back. Hiking 5 miles from the Grotto makes for an amazing 10-mile foray into the best Zion has to offer.

The West Rim Trail includes: traversing expanses of slickrock, singletrack through the forest (with stunning red leaves in the fall!), and views of popular climbing walls and the tiny climbers in the distance. Perhaps, however, the best view is of Angels Landing, seen from a quiet vantage point.

A hike on the West Rim Trail is proof that solitude can be found in the middle of a popular National Park.

Sources: https://www.nps.gov/zion/planyourvisit/shuttle-system.htm



Hiking trails where obstacles such as rocks or roots are prevalent. Some obstacles can require care to step over or around. At times, the trail can be worn and eroded. The grade of the trail is generally quite steep, and can often lead to strenuous hiking.

Medium Exposure

2 out of 4

The trail contains some obstacles such as outcroppings and rock which could cause injury.


3 out of 4

Little chance of being seen or helped in case of an accident.

Best time to visit

between June and October


  • Picturesque
  • Forestry or heavy vegetation

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area