Canyoneering Route Description

Hidden Canyon - 3A III
Zion National Park, Utah.

Quick Facts

10-11-08, 4 people, 1 Day (Travel time in route 8.5 hours) Pictures Icon

Time Required - 7.5 to 9.5 hours
Distance - 5.8 miles Total, 1.7 miles Technical
Rappels - 7 Rappels, Longest Rappel 100 feet.
Elevation Range - 6880 - 4360 Feet
Shuttle Required -Yes 21.5 Miles Vehicle - Passenger (maybe a little extra clearance) Permit Required - Yes

Gear Used for Canyon

Rappelling and anchor gear, Ropes and or pull cords for rappels up to 100 feet and 50 feet of 1 inch webbing for sling placement.

General Comments

It has been brought to my attention that the trail system has changed since I had written the route description back in 2008.  On July 12, 2014 I decided to take a hike to go investigate.  I found that the trails have indeed changed and the old trail is very difficult to locate since it has been covered over and camouflaged to allow the regrowth of vegetation.  I have updated this route description July of 2014 to reflect the changes and left notes about the old trail system to help reduce future confusion.

I have heard stories of people following this route description and accidentally dropping into Grotto Canyon.  The confusion was due to the trail system being changed and not matching with the route description.  The new trail system route make Hidden Canyon just that..... Hidden.  Since the new trail system makes Hidden Canyon difficult to see it can be easy to just keep walking a long ways until you see Grotto Canyon off in the distance and mistakenly think it is Hidden Canyon.

Please be aware that things change over time.  Man can move trails or anchors and mother nature can re-arrange things.  Nothing is forever.  While navigating your way to, through and out of a canyon, there is only one person who is ultimately responsible for your safety, including proper navigation.  That person is YOU!

While navigating to a canyon, use GPS, map, satellite imagery, written beta or any other navigation technique you prefer.  While navigating keep track of where you are and where you are trying to go.  I try to be as accurate as possible and strive to give directions that can be followed with or without GPS, but this is NOT a substitute for using your own navigation skills to double check things to be sure you are dropping into the correct canyon.

For details on the new route and notes about what the old route was, see the approach portion of this route description and refer to the accompanying maps.

Hidden Canyon is a fun and scenic canyon with little to no water.  Good choice for cooler weather as the season comes to a close (at least for those that do not like cold weather).

The route description here is for starting from the Stave Spring Trailhead.  I have not found an official name for the trailhead but some rangers refer to it as Stave Springs.  You could also start the route from the Weeping Rock Trailhead to make this a loop route but would add a lot of distance to your approach and significant elevation gain.

This canyon does not have the typical sandstone slot that a lot of the Zion canyons have.  Don’t let that discourage you from doing this canyon thinking it isn’t as scenic as others in Zion.  This canyon has a charm all its own. Other than the 7 rappels, you will spend a lot of time down climbing as you descend the canyon.  There are also a couple nice arches along the route.

Driving Directions

To get to the Trailhead

These directions are for the Stave Springs Trailhead entry.  Other possible starting points would be the East Rim trailhead or the Weeping Rock trailhead.  If Weeping Rock is used there is no need for a shuttle since you start and finish in the same place but the approach route will be longer and have a significant increase in elevation gain.

The last part of the drive into Stave Springs Trailhead is dirt but is usually passable by passenger car.

From the East Gate of Zion National Park, travel 2.4 miles east on highway 9 to the turn for North Fork (wEngDP-01) and turn left (north) onto the North Fork Road.  Follow the paved North Fork Road for 5.3 miles to the turn for the Ponderosa Ranch (wEngDP-02) and turn left (west) to go into Ponderosa Ranch. 

As you enter the Ponderosa Ranch follow the paved road staying right at all turns.  About 1000 feet after entering Ponderosa Ranch the paved road will end and a dirt road will begin (wEngDP-03). 

Follow the dirt road 0.3 miles to a junction with a sign for observation point (wEngDP-04), at this junction continue to the right / straight ahead to continue west following the sign toward Observation Point.  About 0.22 miles farther is a Tee in the road (wEngDP-05) where you will turn left (southish) and not follow the sign to Observation Point.  About 100 feet past the left turn is a fork in the road where you will take the right fork.  Drive about 0.6 miles to a triangular junction (wHiddnDP01) and turn left.  In about 200 feet you will Tee into Pine Street where you will turn right to travel west on Pine Street.  Drive west about 0.5 miles to the Stave Springs Trailhead (tStaveSpring).

Just before reaching the trailhead is a gate as you re-enter the Zion Park boundary.  You can drive past the gate, but be sure to close the gate behind you.  If there is rain fall the last section of road from the gate to the trail head may be difficult for some vehicles. If that is the case find a convenient place to park near the gate and walk to the trailhead. Keep in mind this is private property and try to be thoughtful when choosing a parking spot.

To leave the Exit Vehicle / Escape Pod

The exit vehicle can be parked at the visitor center.  Once the route is complete, take the Zion shuttle to the visitor center to the exit vehicle.


GPS coordinate information listed at the bottom.  For information about waypoint naming and map symbols, refer to the Glossary page.

Map Link Icon
Click the links for maps of the route.
Map of the drive into the route.
Map of the entire route.
Map of the technical section.
Map of the OLD trail and the NEW trail differences.


The Approach:
From the Stave Spring Trailhead (tStaveSpring), follow the trail west about 0.6 miles to the junction with the East Rim Trail (jStaveEastRimTrl).  At the junction for the East Rim Trail, turn left and continue south on the East Rim Trail.

About 0.3 miles farther is another trail junction (jDeerTrpMntTrl).  At this junction turn right and walk south on the Deer trap Mountain Trail.

About 1.1 miles farther will be the junction for the Cable Mountain trail (jCableMntTrl).  Stay left / straight to continue southwest on the Deertrap Mountain Trail - passing the Cable Mountain junction.

Navigation - Note about old trail system:
Sometime between 2008 when I first visited Hidden Canyon and 2014 the trail system has changed.
About 0.5 miles after passing the Cable Mountain Junction is where the old and new trails diverge (jDeerTrapOld1).  It is unlikely you will see both trials since the old trail has been covered and disguised to allow vegetation to regrow and cover the old trail. The old trail veers to the right (more west) while the new trail is clear and easy to follow veering left (more southwest).

This note is here to make you aware that the trail system has changed and you will likely never see the old trail.  However if you happen to mistakenly find your way onto the old trail the rest of the directions here will not make sense. 

If you happen to follow the old trail you will follow the trail down into a meadow like area and eventually get to a set of 3 or 4 switchbacks about 0.8 miles after leaving the new trail (see the attached map).  The switchbacks will have small logs staked down to form steps on your way up the switchbacks.  If you find the switchbacks with logs staked down you will know you have made it onto the old trail.  The new trail does not have these switchback with staked down logs.  If you find yourself on the old trial you can easily get to Hidden Canyon by hiking up to the top of the switchbacks with log steps, then at the top of the log steps (jOld-jHiddenCyn ) leave the trail and route find your way about 400 feet north west to the head of Hidden Canyon (yHiddenTp).

See the accompanying maps to help clarify this. 

After passing the spot where the old and new trials diverge (jDeerTrapOld1) you will likely be following the new trail since it is the clearest and most obvious route.  Continue to follow the new trail as it travels southwest then starts to bend left and travel more south.  700 to 800 feet after the trail begins to travel south, you will need to leave the trail and route find your way over to the top of Hidden Canyon.  The point you leave the trail (jHiddenCyn) is about 1 miles after passing the cable mountain junction.

The spot where you leave the trail (jHiddenCyn) does not have a noteworthy landmark to help identify it so a GPS is helpful but not mandatory.  To get to Hidden Canyon turn right and walk west down the dirt slope.  A little over 100 feet from the trail you will be at the top of a sandstone cliff band.  If you left the trail at the correct location you should find a section of slickrock with gentle enough slope to allow and easy walk / scramble down to the bottom of the cliff band.  If you left the trail in the wrong spot you may find yourself cliffed out and will have to wander along the cliff band a bit to find the way down.  Remember that part about a GPS being helpful?

Before leaving the trail you may want to take a look west to get a view of where you need to route find to.  The image below shows a view from the trail over to Hidden Canyon and may be useful for navigation.

Example Pic. View from the trail over to the top of Hidden Canyon. The blue line shows the approximate route over to the top of Hidden Canyon.  It is about 0.2 miles over to the top of Hidden Canyon.

At the bottom of the cliff band, route find your way about 0.2 miles over to the top of Hidden Canyon (yHiddenTp).  The point marked as the top entry for Hidden Canyon is a flat rock area on a dirt slope that is on the southeast side of the head of Hidden Canyon.

The Canyon / Technical Section:
From this rock area, travel about 200 feet to the northwest down the dirt slope to the obvious mouth of the canyon where where you will find the top of rap 1.

Rap 1 (dHiddenR1) is anchored from one of several pine trees and drops about 100 feet down a rock face.  The ledge at the bottom of the Rap 1 has a bolt and anchor.  The anchor is not needed but can be used to tie in if you intend to be on the ledge for a while.  From this ledge is an easy down climb about 10 feet to the canyon floor.

Starting form just below rap 1 to the end of the canyon are many down climbs.  There are very few sections in the canyon with any significant distance of easy walking. 

Rap 2 (dHiddenR2) is a little over 500 feet from rap 1.  After down climbing a boulder you will find a 40 foot drop with no apparent anchor to rappel from.  When you find this turn around and look back under the boulder you just down climbed.  There will be a single bolt and hanger for Rap 2 RDC on the wall.  Rap 2 is anchored from this hanger and drops about 35 feet on the up canyon side of the boulder you are standing on.  After finishing Rap 2 walk under the boulder you rapped from to continue down canyon.

Rap 3 (dHiddenR3-4) is a little over 1000 feet down canyon from rap 2.  Rap 3 is anchored from a small boulder and drops about 35 feet.  Rap 3 is like rap 2 in that it drops on the up canyon side of a boulder then you walk under it down canyon to continue the route.

Rap 4 is about 30 feet from the bottom of rap 3.  Rap 4 is anchored from a boulder a few feet over the edge and is a 2 stage rap.  It would be easy to get to the bottom of the first stage and think the rap is over.  Remember to look down canyon when you finish a rap to see if you still need the ropes.  The first stage of Rap 4 drops about 20 feet.  There is about 50 horizontal feet from the bottom of stage 1 to the top of stage 2.  Stage 2 then drops another 15 feet or so.  The total rope distance for Rap 4 is about 85 feet.

Rap 5 (dHiddenR5) is about 500 feet past rap 4.  Rap 5 drops 30 feet and is anchored from a tree about 10 feet up canyon.

After rap 5, travel LDC on a faint path leading up the left wall to avoid a couple down climbs.  This path will soon have a steep drop on the right to the canyon floor.  Soon you will find webbing on a tree at the edge of the drop.  This will be the anchor for Rap 6.

Rap 6 (dHiddenR6) is about 200 feet from rap 5 and drops about 60 feet to the canyon floor.  The start for Rap 6 is a bit awkward.  Despite the awkward start I found this to be the most enjoyable rap in the canyon.  It has a good view up and down canyon and just feels good (once actually on rappel).  The tree looks like it still has a good root system but does have some sections dying off.  An alternate anchor might be a good idea sometime in the future.

Shortly after rap 6 is a drop with a large choke stone wedged between the walls overhead and just down canyon from the drop.  Just before getting to this drop follow another faint path LDC up the left wall of the canyon.  A few feet beyond the choke stone is a large pine tree.  This is the anchor for rap 7.

The path continues beyond this tree and ends at the top of a natural arch.  There are options to rap from either side of the arch but the tree near the choke stone is a bit safer.  Another plus to using this anchor as opposed to rapping off the arch is staying off the arch.  Maybe it will last longer if we stay off it.

Rap 7 (dHiddenR7) is anchored from the tree just down canyon from the choke stone mentioned above and drops about 60 feet to the canyon floor below.  This is the last rappel for the canyon.

Beyond rap 7 the canyon is still full of down climbs.  About 0.4 miles down canyon from rap 7 is a path RDC going up along the right wall (wHiddenRP-1).  This path leads up then back down and drops back to the canyon floor a few hundred feet down canyon.  Taking this path is a great way to bypass some down climbs.

Shortly after the path that climbs up and over, the canyon starts to open up in a few spots and travel becomes easier.  There are still lots of down climbs though.  About 0.25 miles beyond the climb around is a natural arch LDC on the canyon floor (sHiddenArch1).  It is large enough to walk under and is tucked away on the side around some small trees.  It feels leprechaun like.

The Exit:
About 0.25 miles from the arch the canyon opens up a little more and a clear defined trail emerges (yHiddenBt).  This well maintained trail leads to the East Rim Trail.  Along the way are chains and steps cut in the cliff as you work to the East Rim Trail.

Once on the East Rim Trail follow it a little more than a half mile down to the Weeping Rock trailhead where the route ends.

GPS Waypoint Information

Downloadable GPX files available at BG-Gear Store (easier than manual entry and a great way to support Bluugnome).
Waypoint naming convention and map symbol information can be found on the Glossary page.  Elevations are approximate.
manually entering coordinates set your system to WGS84 datum and Lat/Lon hddd.ddddd° coordinate format
Inconsistent datum's and coordinate formats will result in location errors.

Click to show / expand the list of waypoints below........
Hidden Canyon (1) - Drive to Trailhead
  1. wEngDP-01          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.23934   W -112.83230        Elev: 5,869 Feet
    Turn to the North Fork off Highway 9.
  2. wEngDP-02          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.27285   W -112.87304        Elev: NaN Feet
    Turn left, to the Ponderosa Ranch.
  3. wEngDP-03          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.27303   W -112.87625        Elev: NaN Feet
    Pavement Ends.
  4. wEngDP-04          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.27489   W -112.88006        Elev: NaN Feet
    Continue straight. Sign saying Observation Point.
  5. wEngDP-05          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.27583   W -112.88405        Elev: NaN Feet
    Turn right at Tee in the road. Toward Observation Point.
  6. wHiddnDP01          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.26880   W -112.89025        Elev: NaN Feet
    On the way into Stave Springs Trail Head turn left at this triangular junction and drive about 200 feet to Pine Street. Turn right onto Pine street to travel west to Stave Springs Trailhead.
  7. tStaveSpring          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.26759   W -112.89948        Elev: 6,450 Feet
    Some rangers refer to this as the Stave Springs Trailhead. Have not found official name for it.
Hidden Canyon (2) - Approach
  1. tStaveSpring          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.26759   W -112.89948        Elev: 6,450 Feet
    Some rangers refer to this as the Stave Springs Trailhead. Have not found official name for it.
  2. jStaveEastRimTrl          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.26605   W -112.90779        Elev: 6,390 Feet
    Junction to the Stave Springs Trail off of the East Rim Trail.
  3. jDeerTrpMntTrl          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.26206   W -112.90624        Elev: 6,460 Feet
    Junction for the Deertrap Mountain Trail.
  4. jCableMntTrl          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.25266   W -112.91699        Elev: 6,880 Feet
    Trail Junction for the Cable Mountain Trail.
  5. jHiddenCyn          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.24486   W -112.92891        Elev: 6,800 Feet
    Leave the trail approximately here to route find your way over to the top of Hidden Canyon. Hidden canyon is about 0.2 miles to the west of this point. There are no helpful landmarks for this point so a GPS is helpful but not manditory. Leave the trail here and travel west a little over 100 feet to the top of the cliff band. If you left the trail in the correct spot you will find a slope gentle enough to allow you to walk / scramble down to the bottom fo the cliff band. If you left in the wrong spot you may be cliffed out and need to wander along the top of the cliff band to find the way down.
  6. yHiddenTp          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.24559   W -112.93216        Elev: 6,730 Feet
    Flat rock area on dirt sloped entry on the southeast side of the head of Hidden Canyon. Find your way about 200 feet northwest down the dirt slope to the first rap in Hidden Canyon.
Hidden Canyon (3) - The Canyon and Exit
  1. yHiddenTp          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.24559   W -112.93216        Elev: 6,730 Feet
    Flat rock area on dirt sloped entry on the southeast side of the head of Hidden Canyon. Find your way about 200 feet northwest down the dirt slope to the first rap in Hidden Canyon.
  2. dHiddenR1          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.24594   W -112.93271        Elev: 6,640 Feet
    Rap 1 in Hidden Canyon. 100 feet Anchored from Pine Tree.
  3. dHiddenR2          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.24775   W -112.93348        Elev: NaN Feet
    Rap 2 in Hidden Canyon. 35 feet Anchored from small boulder.
  4. dHiddenR3-4          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.25028   W -112.93412        Elev: NaN Feet
    Raps 3 - 4 in Hidden Canyon. Rap 3, 35 feet anchored from small boulder. Rap 4, 2 stage (20 and 15 feet) with 50 feet between stages.
  5. dHiddenR5          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.25205   W -112.93475        Elev: NaN Feet
    Rap 5 in Hidden Canyon. 30 feet Anchored from tree in the wash.
  6. dHiddenR6          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.25252   W -112.93490        Elev: 5,800 Feet
    Rap 6 in Hidden Canyon. 60 feet Anchored from tree. Awkward start.
  7. dHiddenR7          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.25364   W -112.93527        Elev: 5,650 Feet
    Rap 7 in Hidden Canyon. 60 feet Anchored from Pine Tree. Natural arch just down canyon.
  8. wHiddenRP-1          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.25914   W -112.93632        Elev: 5,300 Feet
    Climb around large area of canyon RDC. Nice path leading up and over.
  9. sHiddenArch1          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.26304   W -112.93761        Elev: 5,230 Feet
    Arch large enough to walk under LDC on the canyon floor. Feels very leprechaun like.
  10. yHiddenBt          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.26776   W -112.93824        Elev: 5,180 Feet
    Bottom exit for Hidden Canyon.
  11. jHidnCynTrlBt          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.26949   W -112.93615        Elev: 4,760 Feet
    Junction off the Observation trail where the Hidden Canyon trail starts.
  12. tObpntWpRk          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.27053   W -112.93855        Elev: 4,371 Feet
    Trail head for Weeping Rock and Observation Point.
  13. wBusStpWeepRock          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.27098   W -112.93942        Elev: 4,360 Feet
    Weepeing Rock and East Rim trail bus stop.