ZION NATIONAL PARK - Zion National Park is planning a complete overhaul of one it’s longest and most popular trails, which means several closures this summer.
The observation point trail runs from the canyon floor up to the east rim trail. The majority of the way, it’s paved, which some hikers say is a unique surprise.
“You don’t expect to see it,” says hiker Peter Fertig. “Is it helpful? Yeah, it is helpful.”
The trails were paved in the 1920’s, and park directors say for a specific reason, because they’re so popular.
“We’re on sandstone,” says park spokesperson Aly Baltrus. “So as you walk, you just make sand, and for our busier trails, they all need to be paved in order just to allow them to last.”
On portions of the trails, engineers have done some patchwork, but there hasn’t been a major overhaul. Crews will be pulling up the entire path, and repaving it, a job that’s going to take several months.”
“It’s an ongoing thing,” says Baltrus. “We do a lot of trail work. Every year we just pick different trails.”
That construction means the trail will be inaccessible for several weeks from June through October. The closures mostly affect the hidden canyon portion of the trail.
Hidden Canyon trail and portions of the Observation Point trail will be closed the first few days of the week from June 16 through Sept. 30. Trails will be open most weekends.
The Hidden Canyon trail will stay closed from July 7 through August to repair retaining walls damaged from a flash flood last year.
The overlook canyon trail will be closed Monday through Thursday during September and October.
Observation point trail is the most popular in the park, so it will be an inconvenience to hikers, but many say the benefits of that trail are worth it.
“It’s one of the special trails here in Zion,” says Fertig. Especially the part going up through the slot canyon, up to the intersection of the east rim, that’s really special.”
Trail improvements are paid with park entrance fees.