Thunder Mountain Trail, Red Canyon, UT


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"Weeping Rock is a vertical oasis, a constant spring that nourishes an unusually lush   
concentration of ferns and wildflowers. Mysteriously the water seems to bleed from
the rock. Runoff from rain and snowmelt on the plateau above percolates down
through the porous sandstone. When the water reaches the impermeable 
layer of shale, it is forced to run sideways and exit the face cliff."
~ from an interpretive panel at Weeping Rock

This is the largest and most famous hanging garden in Zion National Park but you can find other examples of these miniature rainforests-in-the-desert throughout the park.

I've also seen these wet walls on the Emerald Pools, West Rim, Observation Point, Hidden Canyon, and Riverside trails:

Tangle of ferns on a dripping wall along the Riverside Trail

This morning I hiked up the Lower Emerald Pools Trail to see the lower, middle, and upper pools and waterfalls, beginning at shuttle stop #5 (Zion Lodge). I came back down to Zion Canyon via the Kayenta Trail and ended up at shuttle stop #6 (The Grotto), a total distance of 3.2 miles.

There is no trail connecting The Grotto with the multiple trailheads at Weeping Rock so I hopped on a shuttle to stop #7 at Weeping Rock. My goal was to hike the short trail to Weeping Rock and check out the other trailheads for one or more future hikes. Mission accomplished!


Here's a map section of the trailheads from an interpretive panel at the Weeping Rock shuttle stop:

I marked the Weeping Rock Trail in yellow.

The next day I hiked the Observation Point Trail and part of the Hidden Canyon Trail. On my way back down in the afternoon I took the next two pictures of Weeping Rock from higher up on the Observation Point Trail. There were a lot more people in the alcove then:


Weeping Rock is under the red dot -- sure looks small from a distance!

The trailhead for all the trails leaving this area is around the corner from the bus stop, near the restrooms and across the little creek (not much water in it today, at least) that flows down from Weeping Rock and nearby cliffs.

On the other side of the bridge, take an immediate left for Weeping Rock:

The Weeping Rock Trail is listed as "easy" by the Park Service because it is paved and short, only about a half mile out and back.

Be aware, however, that it is relatively steep, has several steps going up to the platform in the alcove, and is not very suitable for wheelchairs or strollers.


The path follows the creek up through wooded terrain that offers some shade when the leaves are out. The box elder tree in the next picture is full of leaves in mid-April but some of the other trees and shrubs are still bare:


You'll see "seeps" and little streams of water all along this path, with ferns, wildflowers, and grasses poking out of the steep slope:

Soon you can see the large alcove housing Weeping Rock. I lucked out before lunch when only a few people were here. I could see a lot more the next afternoon when I was looking down at the alcove from the Observation Point Trail.

A platform allows visitors to get close to the wall and to look out at the surrounding cliffs and main canyon:




Above and below:  Shooting stars growing in the dripping wall


View from the far end of the platform; a pool of water flows into the creek.

View south to Zion Canyon

I had the whole platform to myself for a little while. 
I bet that doesn't happen very often here.

North side of White Throne, as seen from Weeping Rock's platform

The last time I visited Zion National Park about four decades ago . . .  in  the summer . . . I remember seeing large, lush, brilliant green hanging gardens somewhere in the park.

During this visit I haven't seen anything that luxuriant. I don't know if it's just too early in the spring or if it hasn't rained enough lately or what. Maybe it's just my faulty recollection! I do think Weeping Rock would look more lush after a bunch of rain and/or in the summer after everything has greened up. Today it just didn't meet my expectations.

Next entrymy favorite trail that I hiked in Zion NP this week -- Observation Point -- which more than exceeded my expectations!

Happy trails,

"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody the ultra Lab, and Casey-pup

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2016 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil