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“A Nice Off Season Trail”
Review of Sand Bench Trail

Sand Bench Trail
Reviewed September 5, 2012

We've hiked this a couple of times in Winter and it's a good trail for that time of year. Spectacular views and most likely some solitude. During the season this is used by the Horses/Mules and would not be enjoyable IMHO.

Thank WininZion
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed April 23, 2012

The westward spur of the Sand Bench Trail was one of the first I did during my multi-day visit to Zion NP, as part of my month-long tour of the Utah/Arizona natural attractions last year. I have posted separate reviews for several individual trails plus an 'introductory' review for the NP as a whole under the TA webpage entitled 'Zion's Main Canyon'.

I have compiled an extensive Trip Advisor 'Trip List' for my tour, which includes 'extra' attractions and also has links to the other individual TA reviews I've contributed for the accommodation/attractions I visited - it has been made a Trip Advisor 'Itinerary'; I hope it is of interest and use to you - I plan to add visitor information sections/viewable media sections..... The most direct way to access it is by clicking my review-count below my profile name to the left of this review text. Alternatively, see after my review below the dashed line...

You can also access my other Zion reviews that way...

I think that the 'Sand Bench Trail' is an excellent all-rounder trail in Zion as it isn't at all strenuous if you take a westerly spur which takes you to the base of the Patriarchs Amphitheatre - this is the route I'm going to cover. You can also join up with the 'Emerald Pool' trail complex if you head north on it....

Do remember that you can view trail details on the various Zion NP maps which you should get when visiting but are are also online. Please see my TL for the relevant 'Visitor Information', which includes the Internet link to the specific NPS webpage where they 'live' - I might also add annotated maps for poorly covered trails such as this one. For my tour I had a hiking guide which I found useful to get an idea of the trail highlights and any pitfalls which might exist.

It was also useful for this trail because despite appearing on the aforementioned Zion NP trail map it gets no further explanation ! Do note it is highlighted as being a 'horses permitted' trail, so you might meet some + riders along the north/south part....

The central trailhead/junction is a bit undefined, but is located in the general area near the river by the 'Court of the Patriarchs' shuttle stop.

The southerly one-way loop trail has a round-trip walking distance far in excess of what I did and am recommending, which takes the initial western section then a right fork further east to the amphitheatre - as the trail proper rotates 90 degrees and becomes orientated north/south.

From the map you should see that first westerly section and visualize the remainder, which adds around 1 mile or so round-trip back to the west/north/south junction - it barely ascends so, it is mostly level BUT (of course !) firstly very sandy; this can make the first/last bit a bit of a trudge; I'd allow about 2hrs round-trip. From my experience it was unusual, like the 'Watchmen Trail', in readily offering a lot of pleasant opportunities to view the smaller varieties of the local wildlife - it is very remote, despite being so close to the canyon road.....

To access the central trail junction, follow the tree-lined riverside from the shuttle stop as it takes a sudden westerly turn (you can shadow this route by sneaking onto a staff-only access road which leads to some hidden buildings). The views here are limited as you should be under tree-cover, but they are still quite pretty as you can concentrate more on the river area - the flora is more lush here to colour the surroundings than you will see later on....

Soon after the river turns south, where the trees thin out you see more of your destination and a small wooden riverbridge - cross it. Then walk west a short distance before taking what should be a signposted right loop around a low hillock. As you swing through north back to west again the area should open up in front of you and the trail junction become visible - it's accentuated by having prominent fencing on all the sections (to keep the horses in I think). Head south for a short distance before taking the right/westerly fork which should be fairly obvious and heads off to the amphitheatre you can easily see above/in the distance - hopefully whetting your appetite !

Things now get more picturesque above eye-level as you join this westerly trail, as well underfoot turning more hard/earthy sandy; the flora scenery remains the same for the whole route, being of the dry/bushy variety with the odd tree. From then on, there were quite a few opportunities to see small lizards and the like, but you will soon be drawn to the amphitheatre view increasingly 'opening up' in front of you, as you proceed closer to the base. Obviously, once complete your turn back and retrace your steps (or take the north section as mentioned earlier), but in the meantime you should spend some time at your end point to soak up the marvellous rock face views.

I strongly recommend this trail .It is more than likely going to be peaceful as it isn't highlighted like other Zion trails - despite the trailhead being right next to a shuttle stop ! It is not strenuous at all (if you do the route I've outlined) as it doesn't ascend much. The real bonus are the close-up views afforded of the 'Court of the Patriarchs' which surpass what you can see at the dedicated shuttle stop viewpoint....

I will add any relevant photos/videos after this review is posted by TA.


As well as the method described near the start of this review my TA 'Trip List' can also be accessed from the 'Utah Itineraries' link on the right of the Utah Forum page. Or the direct link is :


Alternatively, to search via TA, it is entitled 'Las Vegas to Zion, Bryce and other SUtah Natl Parks + Monument Valley-May 2011'.

Please feel free to send me messages with any questions.

5  Thank LPWilliams
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 17, 2012

My husband and I hike this trail when the park is very busy with visitors because not many people know about the Sand Bench Trail, so it is peaceful. There is some climbing and walking in sand. Since you are often in the open, I would suggest hiking this trail during cool weather only.

Thank lisaskitchen
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 22, 2011

The Sand Bench Trail is used by horses for commercial horseback rides during the busy months of the year, but in the winter hikers can take to the path without running into horses.

2  Thank Tanya M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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