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Sand Bench Trail, Zion National Park

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  • Are you looking for a short jaunt along the river, a morning run to warm up your quads for Angels Landing, or a light hike in afternoon shade? This subtle, beautiful loop trail matches all these descriptions well. Scrambling along river’s edge and meandering through low foothills, Sand Bench wanders along the base of the Patriarchs, Jacob, Abraham, and Isaac, on the west side of the Virgin River. East of the river, the trail is flat and sandy, offering easy hiking and great river vistas. The Sand Bench is a great hike for kids, or those wanting a tasty, rather than torturous, hike.
  • Trailhead: Exit free Scenic Drive shuttle at the Zion Lodge or Court of the Patriarchs trailhead. If you start at the Court of Patriarchs, walk across the Canyon Drive to a service road, then across the bridge to the connecting trail system.

    Mileage: 3.6 miles (5.8 km), round-trip

    Elevation Gain: 500 feet (152 meters), round-trip

    Approximate Hike Time: 3 hours, round-trip

    Difficulty: Moderately easy

    Crowds: You’ll find few hikers on this trail, but many four-legged friends and their droppings. Horse tours follow this trail every day, March through October,
    from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Inquire at Zion Lodge for this alternative and sought-after form of exploration.

  • Best Times of Day: Hike before 7am or after 5pm to avoid the equine caravans, March thru October.

    Best Times of Year:
    Hike the Sand Bench November thru February for a horse-free trail and riverside tranquility.
  • Sand Bench is a great place to smell the spring wildflowers, April through June
    Catch the alpenglow upon the Mountain of the Sun in the early evening.
  • This is probably the best moderate running trail in the Park, featuring a low-impact surface and mild elevation gains.