East Rim Summits

Deertrap MountainAlong the East Rim in Zion National Park runs a trail that goes to three summits that have incredible views down into the main Zion Canyon. While a large part of the trail spends time traversing the high desert, trips to the rim on Deertrap Mountain and Cable Mountain afford amazing views.

Dropping down into the slickrock landscape of Echo Canyon with its large ponderosa pines, then up the impossible switchbacks to Observation Point continue to give variety. Observation Point doesn’t disappoint and the trip down to Weeping Rock goes through Echo Canyon’s slot canyon which can be dangerous when raining due to flash flooding.


We got an early start at the East Rim trailhead and worked our way up the East Rim trail towards Sawmill Spring. Along this old road crossing slickrock and sand, we came across Jolley Gulch which is a fantastic canyon that just drops off below you. We saw numerous birds and even a small Western Diamondback coiled up in the cool of the morning. We traveled up with more and more of Zion’s eastern summits in view getting a bird’s eye view of that area of Zion National Park. After ducking amongst the ponderosas and just past Sawmill Spring, we cut out for Deertrap Mountain and Cable Mountain.

The trail forked and we went left out across the open desert where the trail went up and down as we worked our way out to the rim. This view, seldom seen by the hordes that visit Zion, is incredible. The trail traverses right along the edge giving you views into the main canyon with unique looks at the Zion Lodge and up into the Emerald Pools area. At trails end, the Great White Throne dominates the view with a cool look at Angels Landing.

Cable MountainWe turned back around and headed to the fork, this time taking it to Cable Mountain. While mostly level, the trail gradually descends to the rim where old equipment from the “log lowering” operation still sits giving you a glimpse into the Park’s past. The view from here is nothing short of breathtaking as you look down onto Angels Landing with the Organ and Virgin River below it. People are like ants on Angels Landing as well as on Observation Point which was our next stop.

On our return trip to the fork, the skies opened up and we got rained, then hailed, on. We were thankful we weren’t in Echo Canyon at the time as it would have been dangerous. It was incredible to see waterfalls suddenly appear at the top of the rim and crash down below. As the water slowed down, we descended into the Echo Canyon area and traversed across more slickrock where ponderosa’s incredulously clung and survived on the rock.

Observation PointWe then took the Observation Point trail that was hewn from the sandstone in crazy switchbacks. Views were plentiful and continued to get better as we climbed. Once at the top of the rim, you could see the point and an easy traverse along the rim brought us there. Views were amazing looking up the Virgin River, across to the West Rim and out to the rest of the canyon. Angels Landing was a small outcropping, dwarfed by the huge red walls.

More rain was heading our way with thunderheads booming and we were tired. We needed to hustle down to get through Echo Canyon before it started flash flooding again. We jogged down the switchbacks as it started to drizzle. We arrived at amazing rock formations of where the trail goes through Echo Canyon. The water was still pooled high and the rain started coming down in earnest, but we were well ahead of the water and thankful that we could scoot right through.

On the other side of the canyon, a waterfall poured over Weeping Rock as it came out of Echo Canyon. The rocks were dark and vibrant with the moisture. We ended up at the bus stop and climbed into the bus after hiking over 27 miles up and down in incredible Zion National Park.

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Posted on 12 Comments

12 thoughts on “East Rim Summits

  1. Absolutely beautiful. Thank you.

    1. My wife and came here on an assignment, a location I dreamed of since I was a kid hiking the Presidential Range in NH. I had received some news about my L knee and it turned out to be infected. After several weeks of dreaming about hiking and dealing with my knee I’m now sitting in Kalispell Reg. Hospital waiting to have an above the knee amputation. To everybody out there in this beautiful area , have fun.

      1. Yikes Charles! Were you talking about coming out to Glacier or Zion? Have you had surgery yet? Please drop me a line on my contact form.

  2. I live in Alabama now. Also I now have arthritis so bad that I can’t hike as I used to. I found that out this past summer on the highline and loop trail in glacier. It took me 8 hours to make it to the chalet. Then it took me about 6 or 7 hours to get down the loop trail 2 days later. Then several months to recover. So I really appreciate your posts. I can live vicariously through you. Thanks!

    1. I’m sorry to hear that you’re becoming very limited. I know it’s an inevitability, but it isn’t fun. I’m honored to be able to help you with your outdoor fix. 😀

  3. Jake We arrived in Zion in late Dec. and bought your map first thing. I had hiked in Glacier 2 years ago and found your map a big help. You knocked it out of the park again. We had snow and ice on many of the trails (Angel’s Landing, Hidden Canyon, Observation Point and River walk) and were post hoking in our attempt to make it to the spring on the west rim trail. The best Hike was up to Kolob Arch. The snow was 5 days old and we were breaking trail… Lots of mountain Lion tracks. Thanks for all your hard work.


  4. I am so proud Zion is my home park…….you have portrayed its other worldliness wonderfully. I had forgotten how massive it looks from up at Deertrap. Of course I will NEVER forget the nosebleed view over the edge of Cable Mtn. And let me just say your lizard picture is sweet. Got all the little spikes. Prehistoric.

    1. I know! I’m not sure I can visit that park enough. Next time I go down, I want to spend some more time off trail and in some slots. 😉

  5. When is the best month to spend a week here and do this? (Am now in beautiful westernrural NY state, I used to live in Tucson but hithis is different.) Thanks.

    1. I think spring is hit or miss depending upon snowpack which can greatly affect Virgin River depth (if you wanted to do the Narrows when there which you should). I am partial to September when it’s not as hot, but still nice.

  6. What month of the year did you do this? Looks beautiful.

    1. It was April of 2015 and yes, it WAS beautiful!

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