Watchman Trail

Round Trip Distance: 3.3 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation: 3909 - 4420 feet
Cellphone: 0 bars
Time: 2 hrs.
Trailhead: Visitor Center
Fee: $30/vehicle
Attractions: Scenic views, wildlife

The Watchman trail is located in the Zion National Park. The trail begins at the Zion Canyon Visitor Center and leads up to a small mesa near the towering peak of 'The Watchman'. From the mesa hikers are treated with views of the surrounding valley, the town of Springdale and the peaks of the Towers of the Virgins.

The trailhead is located on the south side of the Virgin River across the road from the Visitor Center near the bus stop.

The trail begins by following the banks of the river past the overflow parking area.

After crossing a park service road the trail begins ascending a set of rock steps.

As the trail progresses up the drainage the route is laid out before you. The trail ascends a series of switchbacks on the left side of the drainage where it crosses over and follows the ridge on the right. The small mesa that the trail is headed for is above the trail to the south or on the right.

The switchbacks are pretty gentle, ascending at a moderate slope.

At the top of the switchbacks the trail crosses the drainage which has a lushness that reflects the presence of water.

As the trail progresses along the rim toward the mesa the views of the surrounding cliffs become more profound. From the floor of the valley the higher peaks are barely visible because of the height of the lower cliffs and the narrowness of the canyon but from this vantage point hikers can see above them.

After hiking about 1.4 miles the trail comes to the loop on top of the mesa. The park brochure doesn't include the distance around the loop in the round trip distance of 2.7 miles that they give for this hike. The loop adds another half mile to the overall distance.

This picture was taken looking up the canyon with the Zion Human History Museum and campground in the foreground.

Looking across the canyon are the Sundial, Alter of Sacrifice and the Towers of the Virgin.

This Great Basin rattlesnake was spotted in the shade of a juniper tree along side of the trail. If you click on the picture you can see that it has its eyes open but it never did rattle and it didn't move at all. An old timer at the Visitor Center mentioned that they seem to be quite docile in this area. He moves 3 or 4 every year from his garden in a plastic bag and transports them to the park where he releases them.

The Watchman trail gets a moderate amount of use from Visitors to Zion National Park. Because of the close proximity of the trail to the campgrounds it is a handy place to hike. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.