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Zion National Park

East Rim Trail to Jolley Gulch Viewpoint (Zion)

  • 6 miles - Moderate Effort
  • Or: 4.5 to Checkerboard Mesa Viewpoint
  • 2-3 Hours (Total)
  • 610 Total Feet of Climbing
  • Max Elevation of 6,220 feet
  • No Dogs Allowed

Just minutes from the park entrance but eons away from the crowds, hiking the East Rim Trail to the Jolley Gulch viewpoint is spectacular. The trail meanders through incredible rock formations, canyons covered in pines, and past stunning views of Checkerboard Mesa and Jolley Gulch. If you want to experience pristine Zion National Park wilderness in relative solitude, this hike is for you.

In this Guide:
  • Video and Turn-by-Turn Directions for the East Rim Trail
  • Parking for the Jolley Gulch Hike
  • Insider Tips and Recommendations for the Hike

Where is East Rim / Jolley Gulch Hike?

The trailhead for this hike is easy to reach. It's seconds from the East Entrance, just inside the park at the East Rim Trailhead. Use this trailhead address:
East Rim Trailhead, Zion National Park, Orderville, UT 84758

East Rim Trail To Jolley Gulch Viewpoint Zion Parking
The road to the East Rim Trailhead is just 300 feet west of the entrance booth. Drive up the road, stay straight, and park at the end.
East Rim Trail To Jolley Gulch Directions 1
There's a medium-sized parking area that I've never seen full.

Gear For the Hike

The trail is wide, and the grades are gentle on this hike; you don't need anything special. I'd recommend light hiking gear or fitness clothes. The trails are sandy (like most of Zion), so if you wear low gaiters, they'll be good here. Bring at least 1L of water. The trail is mainly exposed and can get hot in the summer.

Gear That I Love Right Now

Nothing is sponsored or promoted, just the actual gear that I use.

Gear Inreach Mini 2
Garmin InReach Mini 2Hit SOS or just tell loved ones that you're running late where your cell phone has no service.  Review here.
Gear Topo Pursuit
Topo Pursuit 2The best hiking footwear I've ever owned. No blisters. Get them wet, they dry quickly. Lots of cushion and comfort.
Gear Epix Pro Up Ahead
Garmin Epix ProHiking maps, route info, and fitness stats on my wrist. Review here.
Hikelite 26 Gear
Osprey Hikelite 26Lightweight, carries all your gear, and your back doesn't get sweaty. Oh yea, it's also one of the most inexpensive packs you can get.

Check out the complete list here. ( Updated July 2024)

East Rim Trail to Jolley Gulch Maps

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Use This Map:
View in CalTopo | PDF Map | GPX File

Elevation Profile

East Rim Trail To Jolley Gulch Viewpoint Zion Elevation
The hike is a gentle uphill until we get to Checkerboard Mesa overlook, and then there's a slight downhill to the Jolley Gulch viewpoint. This is a one-way profile. On the way back, you do it in reverse.

3D Map

East Rim Trail To Jolley Gulch Viewpoint Zion 3d Map
We follow the flat and wide Clear Creek wash until Cave Canyon, which we ascend. From there, we hike along the east rim of Jolley Gulch until we reach its dramatic mouth at the viewpoint.

Jolley Gulch Hike Directions

East Rim Trail To Jolley Gulch Directions 2
The start of the East Rim Trail is just past the gate at the parking area.
East Rim Trail To Jolley Gulch Directions 3
You'll see a trail board for the East Rim Trail.
East Rim Trail To Jolley Gulch Directions 4
The trail starts out sandy and flat as you hike along (the usually dry) Clear Creek wash.
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The views on either side are spectacular.
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Shortly after the start you enter the Zion Wilderness. Why does the Wilderness Area start this far back from the start of the trail? Here's why.
East Rim Trail To Jolley Gulch Directions 7
Continue down the trail as it crosses Clear Creek and a few tributaries.
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At about 1.3 miles the trail starts to wind to the left into Cave Canyon.
East Rim Trail To Jolley Gulch Directions 10
The lush slopes of Cave Canyon mixed with the dramatic rock formations have a different feel than the earlier Clear Creek section.
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At about 1.7 miles the trail doubles back and climbs up the side of Cave Canyon.
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Follow the East Rim Trail along the upper slope of Cave Canyon (to the left).
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The trail, once an old wagon route, widens out as it ascends to the tableland that surrounds Zion Canyon.
East Rim Trail To Jolley Gulch Directions 14
At about 2.2 miles, look to your left for spectacular views into Clear Creek Canyon and over to Checkerboard Mesa.

Why is it called Checkerboard Mesa? If you look closely (which you can from its roadside stop), you'll notice a checkerboard appearance. The horizontal lines are from the many layers of ancient sand dunes; the vertical lines are from cracking due to expansion and contraction during winter.

East Rim Trail To Jolley Gulch Directions 15
Continue on the wide trail as it starts to go downhill.

If you look at a map, this section of trail is also known as the Hayduke Trail. What's the Hayduke Trail? It's an 800 mile thru-hike, from Arches NP to the Grand Canyon to its end in Zion Canyon. It's named after a character in an Edward Abbey book, and if you don't know who Edward Abbey is, pick up one of his books and you'll be in for a treat.

East Rim Trail To Jolley Gulch Directions 16
On your left are the ever-narrowing walls of Jolley Canyon.
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At 2.8 miles there's a steep downhill as you approach the mouth of Jolley Gulch.
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And here you are, the Jolley Gulch viewpoint.

Who is Jolley (sometimes pronounced "jolly")? Well, he's an early settler and the main character in a local horror story. I'm not sure how much is true, but here goes. Jolley moved here with his wife and two girls in the early 1900s, before Zion became a National Park in 1919. When the family moved here in the spring, a stream flowed down into the gulch. As the year went on, the stream dried up and the family started to face death from dehydration. Jolley walked his wife and kids to the edge of the gulch and pushed them over the side. He then went back to the cabin, wrote down what he did, and then jumped off the side himself. Today the gulch is supposed to be haunted by Jolley.

East Rim Trail To Jolley Gulch Directions 19
The views down into the 200-foot Jolley Gulch are incredible. Be careful around the edges on the slick rock.

That's the hike! From here, just go back the way you came.

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This Guide Was Written by Cris Hazzard

Cris Hazzard 4 Mile Trail Yosemite
Hi, I'm Cris Hazzard, aka Hiking Guy, a professional outdoors guide, hiking expert, and author based in Southern California. I created this website to share all the great hikes I do with everyone else out there. This site is different because it gives detailed directions that even the beginning hiker can follow. I also share what hiking gear works and doesn't so you don't waste money. I don't do sponsored or promoted content; I share only the gear recommendations, hikes, and tips that I would with my family and friends. If you like the website and YouTube channel, please support these free guides (I couldn't do it without folks like you!). You can stay up to date with my new guides by following me on YouTube, Instagram, or by subscribing to my monthly newsletter.