This is a continuation of a travel series to Utah. To start at the beginning, go HERE. The rest of the posts in chronological order are HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE!
Believe it or not, on the same day that we conquered the challenging Narrows trail, we also went out again at dusk to hike The Watchman Trail. I felt it though, and for the first time in my life, I was a little concerned about my health. Even though we didn't start the hike until around 4:30 it was still around 100 degrees and the sun was very intense. I was about half way up this trail when my heart was beating so hard and rapidly I could feel it through my chest. I never felt that way before and it was quite scary. We stopped to rest under the tiniest amount of shade we could find and we waited till my heart resumed to a normal rhythm before continuing on. After that, I felt fine. I have no idea what that was about. It could have been the heat, the altitude, or maybe it was just too much for my body to do another challenging hike after just doing The Narrows earlier that day.
But the scare was really worth it because the views of this trail are incredible. We made it to the top before the sun set, so we got to watch the sun setting behind the town of Springdale below. A lot of hikers were climbing up to see the sun set as we were coming down. We kept telling them they missed it. If you want to watch the sun set, you have to climb up while the sun is still up or you will never make it.
The Zion Hiking Guide actually recommends hiking this trail to see a stunning sun rise. But then you would have to hike the trail in the dark, and I don't know if I would do that as there are lots of steep drops that might be hard to see in the dark. I'd be sure to take a flashlight! They also recommend hiking this trail before 10:00 am in the summer due to the heat and elevation gain.
The trail is 3.3 miles round trip, and takes about 1.5 to 2 hours to complete. It is described as a "moderate" trail for difficulty. It only has a 368 foot elevation gain, but because the trail is so short, it's very steep. We saw a lot of people struggling going up this trail, including myself!
The trail has picturesque views of the town of Springdale, the West Temple, Mt. Kinesava, the Towers of the Virgin, and lower Zion Canyon.
The picture below gives you an example of the type of trail this is. It's a rugged gravel trail that switches back and forth along a mountain. There are no guard rails, but even though I'm afraid of heights, I was never nervous on this trail as I felt I could hike a good distance from the edge.
The trail is called The Watchman Trail because it stops at a viewpoint of "The Watchman"; a red spire rising to an elevation of 6545 feet.
At the very top of the trail is a little "Loop". Be sure to hike this loop to get a 360 view of everything from this height.
This trail has a lot of greenery, pines, shrubs, and of course Zion's famous prickly flowering cactus!
After I returned home I read a lot of reviews from other hikers about this trail. Many complained about the lack of shade and how hard it was too hike in the heat of the day. I'm pretty sure now it was the sun that did me in. But if we wanted to make it to the top before the sun set we had to start the hike at 4:30. We planned on doing a different hike the next morning, so we couldn't do it at dawn.
Even though it was a little difficult to get up to the top with the heat and sun, the views were sure worth it. And getting back down was a piece of cake!
This photo shows the town of Springdale below.
The views climbing up this trail are just as spectacular as the views from on top because you get to look at the rock formations up above you.
Here is a close up view of the type of trail it is. It's a sandy trail with lots of rocks poking out, so watch your step!
And here is a sun set picture. This is why you have to start this trail early if you want to catch the sun set, because the rock formation is pretty tall, and once the sun sets behind it, it's gone! And it happens pretty quickly too!
Next week I will finish my posts to Zion National Park with another high trail and a scenic drive. Then, it's on to Bryce Canyon after that!
Have a Great Day! Amy
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