Zion National Park is one of the many jewels of the United States National Park Service. If is, fortunately for me, only about an hour from my front door in beautiful St. George, Utah. With all the fabulous hikes to be found in Southern Utah, Zion offers many favorites and the Hidden Canyon Trail is one of them.
If you look closely at the glossy Zion guide handed out at the check station as you enter the park you won't find it on the map so be sure to ask for the newsprint Map and Guide. If you are visiting Zion in the summer you will take the shuttle to the Weeping Rock stop. You'll notice in the Guide that the Hidden Canyon Trail hike has been rated as "Strenuous". I believe a better rating would be somewhere between "Moderate" and "Strenuous".
It is only about two and a half miles round trip, but it is pretty steep. I have seen many hikers along the trail that make it pretty easily to the top by taking their time. Many of them in what might be considered inappropriate clothing and footwear for the hike. A lot of people come to Zion for a few hours, a day or maybe a couple of days and simply don't plan to spend a lot of money for hiking boots, backpacks, etc. Maybe they shouldn't be on some of the hikes, but they are there and, hopefully, they are enjoying the park. At the very least, however, to do this hike I would strongly recommend that at least the hiker should be wearing athletic shoes with somewhat grippy soles. This is not a trail for leather soled shoes, dress boots, flip-flops, etc.
The hike begins on the trail leading up to Observation Point (this hike deserves its strenuous designation) and there is a sign leaving this trail that indicates the trail to Hidden Canyon. Along the way you will have many beautiful panoramic views of the valley below and some of the great landmarks of Zion. The beginning of the trail is paved and easy walking.
But, it is very steep so if you are not in great condition take your time, stop and rest when you need to and you should make it o.k. The part that might cause some difficulty is closer to the end of the hike. There are some narrower places where the trail wraps around the edge of a cliff. If heights really bother you this might be a good place to turn around, but it is not as scary as it might first appear. It is certainly not as bad as Angel's Landing (another strenuous hike in Zion).
There are chains to hold onto here, but most of them are a good distance from the edge so if you just follow the chains, hold on as you walk around the cliff edge and watch your footing you should have no trouble navigating this section. The chains really are not necessary for most of this part, but you would feel pretty dumb (if you able to feel anything) if you didn't hold the chain and somehow managed to slip and fall. The rock trail along here is not particularly slippery, but loose sand from previous hikers' boots may be.
Once you reach the entrance to Hidden Canyon you are at the end of the trail, but you don't have to stop here. Hiking into the canyon itself offers some interesting sights and some opportunities to do a bit of boulder scrambling.
There is no outlet so you can hike as far as you can make it up the canyon but you'll have to turn around and come out the way you went in. There are some puddles and small ponds to skirt and some large rock obstacles to climb over, but none are very difficult or dangerous so you can practice some of your scrambling skills along the way.
And, a special treat in the form of a beautiful small arch is to be found right beside the walkway. Some people set the arch as a goal to reach before making the return trek back down the hill.
Combine this hike with the very short walk over to Weeping Rock to see the springs dripping out of the rocks and, Keep on Traveling!