While continuing to hang out nearby Zion National Park another week, I decided to spend my weekend doing a good amount of solid hiking. Saturday morning, I woke early and headed out to the Kolob Canyons to do the 14 mile trek to Kolob Arch and back. Sunday, I then did the 20.6 mile trek to Deertrap Mountain and back, via the East Entrance.
Having spent most of my time in Zion to date in the main, Zion Canyon area of the park, I was interested in seeing the Kolob Canyons area as well. I woke up Saturday morning with plans to hike to Kolob Arch. I was able to get to the trailhead before 9am easily enough, including a stop for breakfast, and I set out on the trail.
The hike itself wasn’t particularly photogenic along the route, but I enjoyed the variety from the constant staring down Zion Canyon of previous hikes. This was something different, and pleasant in its own right. Although certainly not quite as eye capturing as last weekend’s hikes, I appreciated the diversity of the canyons and the creeks.
Perhaps the most interesting part of the entire hike was finally leaving behind La Verkin Creek Trail and heading up the half mile to Kolob Arch. The trail became a bit more difficult to traverse and to follow, and the views down the canyon were certainly the most different from the 6.5 miles before it. When I finally reached the end, however, I felt somewhat lost. Where was this damned arch?! It really didn’t stand out!
Alas, with some walking around, confused, I looked up and saw the arch. Pretty anti-climactic in its way, but it made for something interesting to stop and stare at for a half hour as I took out my lunch and ate before heading back on the 7 mile uphill climb back to the trailhead. Overall, a pretty easy (for me) but certainly wonderful hike. I even had time to stop at the state liquor store on the way back to camp!
Waking up in camp Sunday morning, I guess I decided that the 14 mile day before just wasn’t enough. So, I packed up and drove to the East Entrance of the park, where the trailhead to the East Rim Trail lies. The plan: the 20.6 mile trek to Deertrap Mountain and back!
The things no one really told me about this route on this trek: the amount of slogging through sand and the more interesting views along the way. The elevation gain, at only about 3100ft seemed pretty easy for such a length, but the sand was enough to make it feel like well more than twice that! The reward was some of the largest diversity of views that I have had in all of my hiking in Zion to date, making the slog absolutely worth the time and energy.
The vast majority of the elevation gain is right at the beginning, over the first 2 to 3 miles or so. From there, it turns into a generally level plateau, although there is quite a bit of up and down the entire way. And the sand just never really stops, although there’s a little bit less of it up on the top.
Finally, after nearly 10 miles, I approached the east rim of Zion Canyon once again, this time on the ridge of Deertrap Mountain. Entirely new views opened up immediately and continued to open up as I followed the trail to its end on the northern side of the ridgeline, where I finally stopped to enjoy lunch.
As I approached my lunch spot, I saw a whole herd of big horn sheep, just in time for them to notice me and run away down the mountain. Having not seen another person on the trail the whole time, it was a special treat!
Alas, I headed back, continuing on towards the trailhead once more. I ran into 2 other hikers along the route back, making for my only encounters with other humans the entire time along this hike. As the sun began to set and I slogged through the torture of the sand on the way back, I even witnessed more deer than humans along the trail.
I arrived back at the car just as the sunset lit the sky with pink-red clouds, and I set off back towards camp. I did decide to get a pizza, which I unsurprisingly finished that night, but as a result, I had the fun of pulling into camp in the dark. Setting up in the dark always sucks, but thankfully, I was familiar enough with the surroundings after a whole week to know where to go.
And with these hikes, although I’m sitting in camp just outside of the park for the week, I’m ready to call it done on Zion for this stay. I’ve left a few good hikes, including Cable Mountain and more of the West Rim and Kolob Canyons area to hike. Until next time, I’ll just have to remember.