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Scout Lookout Zion Featured
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Zion National Park

Hike Scout Lookout (Zion)

  • 3.6 miles - Hard Effort
  • 2-3 Hours (Total)
  • 1,100 Total Feet of Climbing
  • Max Elevation of 5,330 feet
  • No Dogs Allowed

what does this mean?

Scout Lookout is the closest you can hike to Angel's Landing without a permit, and it offers much of the beauty of that hike without the anxiety of the chains section. To get to Scout Lookout, we'll take the West Rim Trail takes us straight up the side of Zion Canyon; you'll have to work for the views. Once at the top, you get panoramic views of Zion and a front-row seat to watch people navigating the chains. While challenging, this hike has no scary edges, narrow chain sections, or permit requirements.

In this Guide:
  • Video and Turn-by-Turn Directions to Hike Scout Lookout
  • Where to Start the Scout Lookout Hike
  • Insider Tips & Recommendations

When planning, always check the park website and social media to make sure the trails are open. Similarly, check the weather and road conditions.

Where is Scout Landing?

To start the hike to Scout Landing, we're going to leave from The Grotto. During most of the year you'll take a shuttle bus here, and in the off-season you can drive and park at the Grotto. If you are taking the shuttle, here is the schedule and route. If you are driving, navigate to The Grotto Picnic Area.

Scout Landing Shuttle Stop
If you are taking the shuttle, get off at stop 6, The Grotto.
Hike Scout Lookout Directions 1
Shuttle buses stop at The Grotto in both directions, going up and down the canyon.
Hike Scout Lookout Zion Bike Rack
You can also take a bike or e-bike to the trailhead. There are racks to lock your bike.

The Grotto has bathrooms and water refills.

Gear For the Hike

Hike Scout Lookout Zion Bad Gps
If you're using a GPS to track your hike on your phone or a dedicated device, expect it to struggle when up against the cliff walls. The purple line here is the actual trail; the red line is my (fancy multi-band) GPS recording. This jumping around of the track will almost certainly give you inaccurate mileage for the hike.

Your best bet for the hike is to wear fitness clothing or light hiking gear. Bring at least 1L of water and be prepared to sweat. Although steep, the pavement on most of the trail makes it hard for trekking poles to dig in.

My Latest Gear Picks

Featured Gear 2023 08 11

Garmin inReach Mini 2 ( Amazon | REI )
HOKA Speedgoat 5
( Men | Women )
Zpacks Sub-Nero Ultra ( Zpacks | Review )
Alpine Carbon Cork Poles ( REI | Amazon )

As a hiking guide, I test lots of hiking gear. On my picks page, I'll show you all of the gear that I actually use. I don't accept paid promotions or talk about the stuff that doesn't make the cut. It's just the gear that works best, so you don't have to waste your money.

All My December 2023 Top Gear Picks

Scout Landing Trail Maps

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Explore Map on CalTopoView a Printable PDF Hike MapDownload the Hike GPX File

Best Smartphone Apps to Navigate: AllTrails | GaiaGPS | OnX

Elevation Profile

Hike Scout Lookout Zion Elevation
Here's the one-way elevation profile. There's a flat section in the beginning and middle, but otherwise, you're climbing most of the way.

3D Map

Hike Scout Lookout Zion 3d Map
First, we cross the Virgin River and head upstream on the West Rim Trail. Then, we climb the lower slopes before starting some steep switchbacks on the cliff wall. There's a respite from the climbing as we hike through Refrigerator Canyon. To finish it off, we climb a set of tight switchbacks called Walter's Wiggles, leading us to Scout Lookout.

Scout Landing Hike Directions

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Hike Scout Lookout Directions 2
Cross the road from the shuttle stop to start the hike.
Hike Scout Lookout Directions 3
Follow the paved path until it crosses the Virgin River. We'll be crossing and heading right.
Hike Scout Lookout Directions 5
Once you cross the river and make the right, you'll see the stairs for the Kayenta Trail. Go straight along the river on the West Rim Trail.
Hike Scout Lookout Directions 6
Here's the West Rim Trail sign at that last junction. Scout Lookout is not quite 2 miles but close enough.
Hike Scout Lookout Directions 7
Hike on the main path along the river, avoiding side trails down to the river. In front of us is Angel's Landing.
Hike Scout Lookout Directions 8
When the trail becomes paved, the climbing begins.
Hike Scout Lookout Directions 9
You'll start winding up some wide switchbacks.
Hike Scout Lookout Directions 10
As you climb you'll see the Great White Throne and Cable Mountain across the valley.

Cable Mountain's namesake was a cable car that transported lumber 2000 feet down to the canyon from the upper area of Zion. It opened in 1901 and managed to strip the land of lumber by 1927 when it closed.

Hike Scout Lookout Directions 11
The switchbacks get steeper and hug the canyon wall.
Hike Scout Lookout Directions 12
Toward the very end of this section the gradient is very steep and the trail feels reminiscent of the Grand Canyon.
Hike Scout Lookout Directions 13
At about 1.2 miles the climbing stops and you enter Refrigerator Canyon.
Hike Scout Lookout Directions 14
Continue hiking up along the canyon on the West Rim Trail.

Be quiet when hiking along Refrigerator Canyon. It's home to the threatened Mexican Spotted Owl, one of the largest owls in North America. Loud noises disturb their nesting.

Hike Scout Lookout Directions 15
After about 0.5 miles of flat in the canyon, we start to climb again.
Hike Scout Lookout Directions 16
The views down Refrigerator Canyon are spectacular as you climb its wall.
Hike Scout Lookout Directions 17
Towards the end of the climb you reach a section of 21 short switchbacks called Walter's Wiggles, named after Walter Ruesch, the park's first superintendent.
Hike Scout Lookout Directions 18
Here's what Walter's Wiggles look like when you gaze down. They're not scary, just steep.
Hike Scout Lookout Directions 19
At the end of Walter's Wiggles the trail levels off.
Hike Scout Lookout Directions 20
And you come to an open area. Go straight to the sandstone slab, which is Scout Lookout.

If you need to use a bathroom, they're directly behind you from the last photo.

Hike Scout Lookout Directions 21
Here you are, Scout Lookout. In front of you is Angel's Landing, which you need a permit to hike.
Hike Scout Lookout Directions 23
Be careful around the edges, which are often a sheer drop.
Hike Scout Lookout Directions 22
Looking down you can see the road and Virgin River.
Hike Scout Lookout Directions 26
It's fun to sit at Scout Landing and watch people come back and forth from Angel's Landing.
Hike Scout Lookout Directions 27
And that's the hike! From here, just go back down the way you came up.

Have a question about the guide or want to see what other people are saying/asking? View the Youtube comments for this video. Leave a comment and I will do my best to respond.

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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!).

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