East Mesa Trail via Observation Point, Weeping Rock Trailhead, Zion National Park, Utah
East Mesa Trail via Observation Point - 12.6 miles
Weeping Rock Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||12.6 miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||4,360' - 6,525' (6,780' max elevation)|
|Elevation Change:||+2,165' net elevation gain (+2,750' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
East Mesa Trail via Observation Point - 12.6 Miles Round-Trip
The Observation Point Trail is one of Zion's most popular, as it leads to a phenomenal overlook and connections with several equally attractive destinations. One such connection is the East Mesa Trail, a 3.1 mile segment that runs across a broad mesa to the Zion's east boundary.
This lightly-used trail features excellent views (notably to the north of Mystery Canyon and Mountain of Mystery), active wildlife and a good deal of solitude.
Recent burns - prescribed and natural - along the East Mesa Trail have compromised some of its aesthetic. The area is recovering quite nicely, however, and is especially verdant in the spring. Look for a wide variety of flowers amid resurgent grassy meadows:
The trail climbs steadily over Weeping Rock to the Hidden Canyon Trail split (.6 miles); keep left for Observation Point.
The trail briefly levels through a short section of Echo Canyon (1.2 miles), a shaded slot with seasonal water. It continues over sparingly marked slickrock (1.5 miles) to the East Rim Trail split (1.7 miles : 5,605').
Bear left and resume steady, steep climbing for 1.5 miles in a labyrinth of promontories, canyons, and slickrock ledges to the East Mesa Trail split (3.2 miles : 6,475').
The East Mesa Trail bears E-NE on a steep but short-lived grade that moderates on the mesa top (6,780'). In approximately .5 miles it levels through ponderosa, pinyon, oak and juniper stands with flowers, grasses and manzanita filling small glades.
While the immediate scenery changes very little on this 3.1 mile segment, taking a few steps off trail in either direction will lead to panoramic views across the backcountry.
Of note to the north is Mystery Canyon - a popular route for canyoneers who rappel down it's 'L' shaped path to connect with the Virgin River near the northern end of the Riverside Walk Trail. Because this sensitive backcountry area is a dedicated primitive zone, only 12 individual permits are issued each day.
The trail ends unceremoniously at the Park boundary (6.3 miles : 6,525'). Despite your remoteness and distance from the trailhead, don't be surprised to see a car or two parked here; dirt roads pass through adjacent BLM land with access to the East Mesa Trail.
- N37 16.255 W112 56.308 — 0.0 miles : Weeping Rock Trailhead
- N37 16.135 W112 56.197 — Observation Point - Hidden Canyon Trail split
- N37 16.349 W112 55.934 — Exit Echo Canyon
- N37 16.457 W112 55.700 — East Rim Trail junction
- N37 16.862 W112 56.195 — East Mesa Trail junction
- The East Mesa Trail is heavily wooded, therefore views are limited. Good views are easily found a few dozen yards off either side of the trail.
- One casualty of 2006 burn was a small wooden sign that marked the canyoneering route and descent point into Mystery Canyon. Explorers should check with backcountry rangers for current information on accessing the canyon.
- Park signs and other map sources differ on the distance of the East Mesa Trail. Measured twice with reliable GPS equipment, distances shown here are likely to be the most accurate. Always prepare for longer distances and variable conditions.
Camping and Backpacking Information
Permits are required for all overnight backpacking trips in Zion National Park. This includes climbing bivouacs, all thru-hikes of the Virgin River Narrows and tributaries, any trip into the Left Fork of North Creek (the Subway), and all canyons requiring the use of descending gear or ropes.
Permits are available at both Visitor Centers the day of or day before your trip. Permits are limited.
- $15: 1-2 people
- $20: 3-7 people
- $25: 8-12 people
Permits may also be reserved up to 3 months in advance through the online reservation system. A $5 non-refundable fee + an additional fee determined by the size of your group is required when using the online reservation system. Click here to reserve.
- Camp only in designated sites.
- Fires are not permitted at backcountry campsites or within the backcountry in Zion National Park.
- Desert water sources are scarce and fragile. Do not bathe or wash dishes in creeks or pools.
Rules and Regulations
- There's a $30 fee per vehicle to enter Zion National Park (defined as private passenger cars with 15 people or less). Passes are good for 7 consecutive days.
- $25 per motorcycle.
- $15 per person (walk or bike).
- Dogs are not permitted on trails in Zion National Park.
Directions to Trailhead
Take the Zion Canyon Shuttle to the Weeping Rock Trailhead.
Zion Canyon Visitor Center
Closed: December 25
Spring: 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Summer: 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Fall: 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Winter: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. )
Backcountry Info, Camping & Permits Desk (including camping in the Narrows)