Another day, another hike. We follow OhThePlacesTheyGo and one of their blog posts mentioned a hike called “Observation Point” via East Mesa Trailhead. The Point has a great view south of the Zion Canyon along with a view down onto Angels Landing. It looked interesting to us so we decided to go for it and we are so glad we did. Thanks Pam and John!!
To reach the trailhead for this hike you have to drive the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway and take the 1 mile tunnel and head out the east entrance of the park, The highway is a zig zag road with outstanding scenery and well worth the drive. The tunnel is regulated for large vehicles with an additional fee (be sure to read about it if you intend to drive a big rig on this road) so there may be some waiting on one end or the other due to “one way big rig traffic”. We only had to wait about 15 minutes before entering the tunnel. The tunnel has some nice side windows cut out of it which provide lovely views.
As you exit the tunnel on the east side you are pleasantly rewarded with different terrain which is spectacular. One thousand pictures later we were heading out of the park on the east side.
We exited the park and continued to North Fork Road and headed north. (From here on out we were referred to as “North Fork hikers” to those we met hiking up from Zion Canyon along the East Rim Trail.). We drove about 8 miles on this road which eventually became a dirt road. The last 100 yards or so become rough but passable. We reached the end of the road and parked at the East Mesa Trailhead and off we went. A beautiful, relatively flat hike for 2 miles through a lovely, peaceful, quiet pine forest with distant views of the mountain ridges in Zion. Not a soul around. We know that mountain lions do frequent Zion but are rarely seen but we still kept a close eye on our surroundings (even though mountain lions are quiet stealthy and you rarely see them before they attack). After 2 miles the trail began to descend for the last half mile or so where it met up with the East Rim Trail and on to the last ¼ mile to the Observation Point. We didn’t see a single other hiker until we met up with the other trail. From that point on there were hikers coming and going. We headed on to the Point and sat on a rock close to the edge and ate our lunch while taking in the outstanding views of Zion Canyon and the Angels Landing summit. We saw some brave souls sitting atop Angels Landing summit with their legs dangling off the edge. No thank you.
A beautiful hike and a beautiful day. We, eventually, returned the same way we came with not a soul around. We loved this hike. We made it back to the trailhead and our car and headed on our way. We started seeing lots of mule deer on each side of the road, not just a few, but ten here, twenty there, and so on. We had not seen them on the way up but it was getting late in the day and they were out and about. As we were driving, only about a mile from the trailhead, laying under a tree was a big male mountain lion. Just laying there watching the mule deer. I guess there will be one less mule deer around Zion Ridge tonight. So glad we were in the car and not on our hike when we spotted this beast!!