Hidden Canyon Trail, Zion NP (UT)


What started out as a hike to Weeping Rock turned into a much longer, splendid hike toward Hidden Canyon. Instead of turning left at the interpretive panel as we should have, we mistakenly turned right. After an hour of hiking that severely tested our legs and lungs, the trail became progressively more challenging, a portion of the trail fashioned from sandstone blocks laid out as steps, the later portion along steep cliffs with support provided only by chains bolted to the rock wall. Anyone with the slightest fear of heights would probably feel quite uncomfortable here. Hidden Canyon itself was still a mile further up, but because we didn’t have enough water (we were equipped only for the short hike to Weeping Rock), we decided to turn back.

Sandstone steps simplify ascents on steeper climbs

Sandstone steps simplify ascents on steeper climbs


Portions of the trail hug the cliffs with sheer drop-offs

Portions of the trail hug the cliffs with sheer drop-offs


Geology notes: All along the way, we became awed by the sheer massiveness of the cliffs, white on the top and rusty red on the bottom. Although different colors, they are all part of the 2000-ft thick Navajo sandstone formation. The white upper portion is “bleached” of iron oxide, most of which has percolated downward. The cliffs in Zion Valley are some of the tallest in the world.

Sheer, massive cliffs typify the Zion landscape

Sheer, massive cliffs typify the Zion landscape


A fascinating feature of Navajo sandstone is the phenomenon called cross-bedding where sections are partially composed of inclined layers. This is thought to have been caused by changes in the environment of sand deposition caused by wind or water on angled surfaces. The Navajo formation is basically an enormous sand dune cemented as rock, a clue that this area was a vast desert.

Crossbedding

Crossbedding

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