This is an enjoyable trail that is off the beaten path. Children should delight in this one. They can play in the sand near the alcove by the entrance to Hidden Gardens and they have room to roam in Clear Creek. The hike is easy with very little elevation change and most of it is in the shade. It's a great hike to do in the heat of the day when it's too hot to be on other trails. There is some boulder hopping and small climbs that add to the fun of the hike.
At a Glance Photo Album: Hidden Gardens Pictures Map: Zion Backcountry Map Day Hike: Yes Distance: 2 miles round trip Average Hiking Time: 2 hours Difficulty: Moderate since the path is a route rather than a trail, but the exertion is mild. Sun Exposure: Hidden Gardens is shady. Clear Creek, leading to the canyon is fairly shady, but can be sunny during parts of the day. Permits: Not required. Trail Conditions: Clear Creek is a sandy wash with large river rocks along the usually dry stream bed. In the winter Clear Creek usually has water flowing through it. Water might be present other times of the year, such as after a heavy rain. Hidden Gardens slot canyon has a sandy bottom as well, but the slot is much more narrow and there are boulders to navigate around or over in a few places. Trailhead: The small, south pullout at the end of the little tunnel. Trailend: Same as trailhead. Trail Access: The Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway is open year-round. If water is flowing in Clear Creek the trail is not easily accessible. This can occur after heavy rains or in the winter. Off the Beaten Path: Yes Classic Zion Hike: No Hazards: Moderate flash flood danger Restrooms: None Best Season: March to October
Park at the pullout, just south of the small tunnel, and follow the path of use down either side of the road. The path to the ditch down the road is easier on the right side of the road, but then you will have to walk through the man made tunnel under the road to the drainage area. Follow this drainage ditch to the dry Clear Creek river bed. Clear Creek will go both right and left. Take the left path upstream. The wash is sandy with river rocks scattered along the path. The sandstone along the sides of the trail get more interesting as the path approaches Hidden Gardens. After about a half mile there is a large alcove on the right side of the sandstone wall. At times this area is filled with water and other times it's dry. Around the next turn is the entrance to Hidden Gardens. The sandstone wall past the entrance has beautiful striations and tends to grab attention and the entrance to the Hidden Gardens is missed. Look carefully in this area on the right side of the sandstone wall. The opening is large, about 8' wide.
To the right of the opening is a towering pine tree, but only the trunk of the tree is usually seen up close. There is a smaller tree directly in front of the slot canyon entrance. Once inside the Hidden Gardens slot, it is about a half-mile to the end. At the start of the slot there are ferns and interesting crossbedding, similar to that on Checkerboard Mesa.
Some of the boulders look difficult to climb but there is usually a path of use that goes up and around the climbs. There are a few places where water accumulates and a couple of hanging gardens that have taken advantage of the seepage. The slot ends in a pile of rocks that is possible to climb, but there is little past this area.
When heading back to your vehicle, make sure you do not pass the little drainage area you need to find to exit. The view of the towering slickrock is beautiful on the return hike to the trailend. Go under the man-made tunnel and climb up to the road.
Directions to Zion National Park
From the North: Travel I-15 south, past Beaver. exit on Hwy 20. Follow US-89 to Mount Carmel Junction. Take SR-9 to Zion's east entrance.
From Arizona: Travel US-89A through Fredonia, Arizona and Kanab Utah. Follow US-89 to Mount Carmel Junction. Take SR-9 to the east park entrance.
From the South: Travel I-15 north. Take exit 16 and travel through Hurricane to LaVerkin. Continue on SR-9 to the south entrance of the park. SR-9 through Zion National Park is always open and is also called the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway. See restrictions for RV's.
The east side of Zion National Park is as a treasure trove of hidden trails and wonders. The Hidden Gardens route is a fun hike leading into a slot canyon filled with boulders, handing gardens, vegetation and the slickrock of the east side of the park.
Lodging and services are available on the gorgeous east side of Zion National Park, where guests are close to Zion National Park (12 miles), Bryce Canyon National Park (60 miles), Cedar Breaks National Monument (45 miles), Coral Pink Sand Dunes (12 miles), and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon (85 miles). It's where city traffic is absent and the skies are bright and clean.
Parking at small tunnel
Hidden Garden Entrance:
GPS coordinates are only references and may or may not be accurate. Do not rely on GPS coordinates as the sole method of navigation. Always have an accurate, detailed map at hand and have the proper map reading and navigation skills before setting out on any hike. Many of the hikes listed in this guide travel into canyons where a GPS has limited capabilities. Always check your position with a detailed map before dropping into a canyon.
Optional Side Hikes
The Clear Creek area is a great place to hike and explore. There are several nooks and crannies of interest that do not have specific destinations.
Beta: Coordinates and other trail and canyoneering information
by Zion Park search and rescue veteran team member Bo
Beck and www.zionnational-park.com author Tanya Milligan. Bo and Tanya are also the authors of the Zion area guide: Favorite hikes in and around Zion National Park. The book includes Zion, Bryce, Grand Canyon, Cedar Breaks, Cedar Mountain, Coyote Buttes, Slot Canyons and much more.
Gear: A sturdy pair of shoes are recommend to hike the trails in Zion National
Park. Quality shoes will help grip the rocks and prevent injury and are important to wear whenever exploring anywhere outside the classic hikes in Zion National Park.