Lower Pine Creek Waterfall is a short hike up a small canyon. Canyon Overlook is a viewpoint far above it over the much wider portion of the canyon carved out by Clear Creek and Pine Creek many thousands of years ago.
I do like Pine Creek, and parking for this hike is almost guaranteed. However the trail is primitive, and flash flood debris litters the approach. It is an unmarked trail in the park, so you must identify the lower switchback with the stone arch underneath it as the proper trailhead.
Canyon Overlook is a marked trail in the park. It is a beautiful hike which would take priority over the two hikes you have listed. Problem is that the parking area is always near full or at capacity, so finding parking is not guaranteed.
You can also study up on the Many Pools hike, which is a trail East of Canyon Overlook.
Iminia, Brian said that Pine Creek comes first but this is incorrect if you are coming from Bryce heading west on Hwy 9. If you are driving into Zion from Bryce, Canyon Overlook trail will come first, before the long tunnel, with lower Pine Creek after the tunnel at the bottom of the switchbacks.
For what it is worth, immediately across the road from the Canyon Overlook trail you can access the Clear Creek drainage. This is actually the same creek as Pine Creek, for some reason it just changes its name right there. There is no trail, but you are welcome to walk up the drainage as far as you want. It mostly parallels the road all the way to the east entrance.
Note - parking for Canyon Overlook driving from Bryce to Zion is tricky. You are not allowed to turn left to park in the parking lot at the trail head. If you wait that long, you will be forced to drive all the way through the tunnel before you turn around and head back through the tunnel - could take an extra 30 minutes.
So they key, is to find a spot to park along the road before you hit the trail head - as soon as you see cars parking along the road -find a spot to park immediately.
>> So they key, is to find a spot to park along the road before you hit the trail head - as soon as you see cars parking along the road -find a spot to park immediately.
Yes, this is a problem with Canyon Overlook trailhead. Unless you know where to expect it, it is very likely any new visitor will pass by the parking area, and only realize it once they are past. Usually a person who is seeking the right area to stop is being pressured from other drivers behind them, in a queue that is 20 vehicles deep.
The park should warn drivers that the parking area and trailhead is coming up with a sign. But knowing how busy the trailhead is and the fact that the park wants to keep everything 'wilderness', I doubt anyone will ever see it.
But in any event, if Canyon Overlook is important to you, then you want to start looking for the correct parking area 'after' you pass through the first 'short' tunnel.
Thank you - such great info from all of you! Taking notes :-) I will post my detailed itinerary so you all can help me finalize it. Thanks!
we are staying in Springdale (Quality Inn & Suites) so I assume these trails are more closer to the park and come after you pass Springdale, right? (sorry if it is a obvious or dumb question)
When you enter Zion from Bryce you come into Zion from the East entrance. You then drive all the way through Zion to the west exit - Springdale is at the entrance of the West Exit. Zion is sort of a Y shape where the right side of the Y is the east entrance with Canyon Overlook on it. The left side of the Y is the main canyon where the shuttle bus takes you. It's kind of hard to describe, but if you pull up a map it should be fairly apparent.
So to hike Canyon Overlook and Pine Creek, the idea is to stop and hike them on your way through Zion before you get to Springdale. (You could always go to Springdale first, but then you would have to backtrack to hike these trails.)
Widmarsh - as I recall someone heading west through Zion cannot park in the parking lot at the trailhead to Canyon Overlook at all. There is a sign at the parking lot that says "No left turn". There is also typically a ranger hanging out right there directing traffic through the long tunnel. The best advice I have is a) research and know the mileage from the east entrance to Canyon Overlook and b) as you are approaching the mileage as soon as you see cars parked alongside the road find somewhere to park.
Yeah, Brian. No left turns into the south parking area. Stands to reason because traffic coming out of the tunnel cannot see left turning vehicles fast enough to avoid a collision. But in this case, we are talking about the North parking lot, which is connected to the trailhead with a sidewalk. Problem with that North parking lot is that it is on a left curve before the mouth of the tunnel(heading East to West obviously). My thought is that seeing as your vision is blocked by the canyon wall on your left, you will not easily notice the right spot for the trailhead until you are passing that North parking lot. I think most people identify the trailhead for Canyon overlook when they see the mouth of the Mt Carmel tunnel.