Coalpits Wash is a good winter hike, but this route is too hot to hike in the summer. Starting early is a must if the plan is to finish the trail in one, short winter day. Many like to do this as a backpacking trip when other backpacks in Zion are closed due to snow.
At a Glance Photo Album: Coalpits
Trail Pictures Trail Map:Coalpits Wash Map Map: South Zion Trail Map Day Hike: Yes, but often done as a backpack. The trail can be difficult to finish on the short winter days. Camping: Stay at least .25 miles from springs and stay
out of site of the trail. Do not camp near the trailhead. Camp at previously used
sites or slickrock to reduced impact. There are several areas after the oil remnant
site for camping. A permit is required for camping. Trail Distance: 14 miles round trip Average Hiking Time: 8-10 hours Trail Usage: The trail gets low use most of the year, but in the winter when other backpacks are closed for ice or snow then this trail can get several hikers on it. Pack Trail: Yes, pack animals are allowed with restrictions. Difficulty: Moderate, with little elevation chang. The trail is long trail and
route finding skills are required. This is a good route for runners unless someone has hiked it while wet and its full of pot holes. Sun Exposure: This trail is not recommended during
the hot days of summer due to the low elevation and exposure to full sun. Permits:
Required for camping. Trail Conditions: This is a dirt path with some stream crossing
and simple bouldering. Trailhead: 7.3 miles south of the south entrance gate.
Look for the Coalpits Wash sign. Turn off on the right side of the road and park
in the flat area. Trailend: Same as trailhead Trail Access: The trail is located just off highway 9,
outside the main section of Zion National park, on the far south side. Best Season: Avoid this trail in the summer due to
the low elevation and full sun. This is a good winter hike but most hikers will
not be able to make it to the end of the trail and back in winter daylight. Off the Beaten Path: Yes Classic Zion Hike: No Starting Elevation: 3666' Ending Elevation: 4120' Highest Elevation: 4500' Restrooms: None. Pack out all trash including toilet
Historic Oil Artifacts There is a unique collection of historic
oil artifacts along this hike, which seem odd to stumble upon when hiking in Zion National Park. The rusted
old metal is left over from the 1800s, before the area was included as part of
the Mukuntuweap National Monument and later Zion National Park. The oil
well artifacts are found at mileage 5.23 with about 1.5 miles
left in the hike. The tributary past the rusty metal remnants is Jennings Wash.
Two other un-named tributary washes enter from the south.
Towers of the Virgin, Altar of Sacrifice, the Bishopric
Waterfalls, when present, are more
abundant near the canyon's end. The Bishopric, Towers of the Virgin and the Altar
of Sacrifice are visible in the last couple of miles of this hike.
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 Coalpits trail follows a stream.
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.
Coalpits Wash Trail
This desert trail is the lowest point in Zion National park at 3666'.
The trail traverses a pinyon-juniper desertscape along the Coalpits drainage
near the base of the Cougar Mountain wilderness area. Huber Wash, Scoggins and
Coalpits Wash are all drainage's that confluence with the Virgin River and are
located in the same general area. The Coalpits Trail runs along a fairly reliable
water drainage for the length of the hike. Coalpits does occasionally dry up
during the summer. Although the start of the trail is far out of the main section
of the park and leads through sagebrush, power lines and often muddy passages,
the later part of the hike is charming with nice waterfalls. Watch for petrified
Basaltic Lava Along the first 2-miles of the route watch for basalt rock formations. Basaltic
lava broke through faults damming the Coalpits Wash long ago, leaving behind
a cinder cone, Crater Hill, as evidence of the last eruption there. Crater Hill
is not visible from this hike, but two other basalt covered mountain are. One
is prior to the Coalpits and Scoggins confluence and the other is located across
from the junction.
Drive 7.3 miles past the parks south toll booth,
past Springdale and past Rockville. Look for the small sign labeling the Coalpits
Wash, just past Huber Wash. Turn off the road there and park in the flat dirt
area. The trailhead is north of the parking area. The Scoggins Trail and Coalpits
trail share the same trailhead. The elevation is 3666'. Begin by locating the well traveled dirt path.
The water flow is to the left and becomes distant during some parts of the initial
trail. Continue down the path past the power lines, around the sagebrush and
through the ditches. Soon black basalt rock will become evident, up high, on
the left. The trail passes closer to low rock formations on the right, now distant
from the water. The moenkopi formation can be seen up high on the left. Before
long the trail begins to meander closer to the water. Some small waterfalls and
large boulders add
interest to the otherwise barren landscape. A few interesting conglomerates are
present, made up of stones that have been cemented together by nature.
Coalpits Wash and Scoggins Wash Junction This junction is directly in front of the second basalt mountain. There is
a large tree between the two washes where they separate. At the Coalpits and
Scoggins Wash confluence, follow the path (left) west. This junction is 1.3 miles
into the hike.
The next section of the trail becomes more interesting. There are larger boulders
along the water and stream crossing to find a path to walk along the wash. Coalpits
has a more reliable water source, compared to Scoggins, making it a more enjoyable
trail when the water is not flowing in Scoggins.
Coalpits Wash and Chinle Trail Junction The wash narrows and the elevation increases slightly from 3794' at the confluence
of Scoggins and Coalpits to 4407' at the Chinle and Coalpits junction. It will
take 3-4 hours to reach this point. Evergreens brighten
the path during a winter hike. The West
Temple is evident bordering the edge of the main section of Zion National
Park as well as the Towers of the Virgin, Altar of Sacrifice and the Bishopric.
Cougar Mountain has been in view to the north during much of the hike.
Trail History Rattlesnakes are common along this trail during
the hotter months of the year. At the 90 degree
bend, where the big boulders line the edges, is a cougars den. Cougar
prints are common along the trail. Do not hike the trail when it's wet. Many
of the areas are clay and hikers sink into the mud making it a difficult hike
and very difficult for those that hike in your dried tracks. (When hiking from
Chinle or Scoggins up to the Old Stock Trail, the area is heavy with clay.) The
trail was named for the basalt rock on the first part of the trail that resemble
GPS Coordinates WGS84 Datum
Junction of Coalpits
and Scoggins Wash
Junction of Coalpits
Oil Mine Artifacts
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.