West Rim Trail to Cabin Spring, The Grotto Trailhead, Zion National Park, Utah
West Rim Trail to Cabin Spring - 10.0 miles
The Grotto Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||10.0 miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||4,320' - 6,720'|
|Elevation Change:||+2,400' net elevation gain (+2,640' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
West Rim Trail to Cabin Spring - 10.0 Miles Round-Trip
Cabin Spring is located 5 miles from the Grotto Trailhead in Zion National Park. This challenging trail climbs 2400' on switchbacks to the spring on Horse Pasture Plateau, a tableland of ponderosa and Douglas Fir set high above the Zion Canyon floor. Cabin Spring was named for a park service cabin that burned down in the 1970s.
The route follows the steepest section of the West Rim Trail with remarkable views and light crowds between Angels Landing and the spring. While output is modest, it still supports a dense and diverse plant community in an otherwise sparse high desert environment:
From the Grotto Trailhead, cross the Virgin River bridge to a paved path that runs flat along the river before turning sharply up the west canyon wall for nearly two miles on strenuous, exposed switchbacks. The rapid elevation gain yields excellent views across Zion Canyon with useful perspective on its extraordinary verticality.
The trail briefly levels through Refrigerator Canyon, a shady reprieve that leads to Walter's Wiggles, an iconic set of 21 switchbacks carved in 1926.
Walter's Wiggles spill out onto Scout Lookout, a small bluff overlooking Zion Canyon with access to Angels Landing. Follow signs to the official beginning of the West Rim Trail.
The West Rim Trail bends away from Angels Landing across open slickrock to a crest that drops into Little Siberia, a narrow canyon filled with bigtooth maple, Douglas fir and gambel oak. It nadirs across a bridge several yards above the canyon floor, then resumes steady climbing on rough-pour switchbacks to the mesa top.
Be mindful of steep drop-offs and avoid narrows sections that can be deceptively slick, especially on the descent.
Travel moderates on the wooded mesa to the West Rim Trail - Telephone Canyon Trail split (5 miles). A sign points to a spring approximately 100 yards away on the Telephone Canyon Trail, but you can also take the West Rim to a similar spring no more than 200 yards from the split.
- N37 15.566 W112 57.081 — The Grotto Trailhead
- This trail is strenuous, especially in the summer heat. Be sure to get an early start to avoid crowds, peak temperatures and summer thunderstorms. Take all precautions with respect to sun protection and hydration.
- The West Rim Trail continues another 9.9 miles to its northern terminus. Its total N-S distance is 14.9 miles (some sources show it as 14.4), and is a favorite multi-day, through-park hike for many. While the Telephone Canyon Trail can also be taken to reach the same northern trailhead and is shorter, many consider the West Rim Trail route to be more scenic.
- Winter conditions beyond Scout Lookout can present technical obstacles - check with a ranger for trail conditions.
Camping and Backpacking Information
Permits are required for all overnight backpacking trips in Zion National Park. This includes climbing bivouacs, all thru-hikes of the Virgin River Narrows and tributaries, any trip into the Left Fork of North Creek (the Subway), and all canyons requiring the use of descending gear or ropes.
Permits are available at both Visitor Centers the day of or day before your trip. Permits are limited.
- $15: 1-2 people
- $20: 3-7 people
- $25: 8-12 people
Permits may also be reserved up to 3 months in advance through the online reservation system. A $5 non-refundable fee + an additional fee determined by the size of your group is required when using the online reservation system. Click here to reserve.
- Camp only in designated sites.
- Fires are not permitted at backcountry campsites or within the backcountry in Zion National Park.
- Desert water sources are scarce and fragile. Do not bathe or wash dishes in creeks or pools.
BACKCOUNTRY CAMPSITES - WEST RIM TRAIL (ordered from North to South)
To access this site follow the sign off the West Rim trail to "Sawmill Spring". For those seeking solitude, this site is ideal. This site has a maximum group size of 6 and is available on a walk-up basis.
This site is located behind Potato Hollow Spring (a seasonal water source). Grassy and covered by Pine Trees. This site also provides great views of Imlay Canyon to the east. This site has a maximum group size of 6 and is available for reservations online or on a walk-up basis.
Exposed site with great night-time sky views. Excellent site for star gazing. The site is just a few minutes walk from Potato Hollow Spring (a seasonal water source). This site has a maximum group size of 4 and is available on a walk-up basis.
This site is close to the junction of Telephone Canyon and the West Rim Trail and is the last site before dropping into Potato Hollow. This site has a maximum group size of 6 and is available for reservations online or on a walk-up basis. This site was affected by a wildfire in 2007.
This site is about two miles from Cabin Spring and enables visitors to enjoy views both to the north and south. This site has a maximum group size of 4 and is available on a walk-up basis. This site was affected by a wildfire in 2007.
This is a large site that can accommodate a group and has great views of the deep canyons off the rim. This site has a maximum group size of 12 and is available for reservations online or on a walk-up basis. This site was affected by a wildfire in 2007.
This site has great rim views and is approximately one mile from Cabin Spring. This site was affected by a wildfire in 2007. This site has a maximum group size of 4 and is available for walk-up permit only.
This site is a small, secluded site near Cabin Spring. This site was affected by a wildfire in 2007. This site has a maximum group size of 2 and is available for reservations online or on a walk-up basis.
The only site along the Telephone Canyon Trail, site #1 is a short walk from Cabin Spring and offers distant views of the Dixie National Forest and northern regions of Zion. This site was affected by a wildfire in 2007. This site has a maximum group size of 12 and is available for walk-up permit only.
Of Note: Campsite #1 is actually located south of Campsite #2
WATER SOURCES - WEST RIM TRAIL
Cabin Springs (6,736') - N37 17 15.2 W112 58 04.2
The springs are located near campsites #1 and #2 near the edge of the canyon rim. It seeps from the ground andcollects in a small pool where logs have been arranged in a square.
Potato Hollow Springs (6,760')- N37 19 15.0 W112 59 14.4
The springs are located near campsite #7 and #8 in the bottom of Potato Hollow. It is a seep from the ground that pools in a few natural areas.
Sawmill Springs (7,173') - N37 22 06.2 W113 01 02.0
The springs are located near campsite #9 and close to the West Rim Trailhead. It is a seep from the ground that pools in a few natural areas.
Rules and Regulations
- There's a $30 fee per vehicle to enter Zion National Park (defined as private passenger cars with 15 people or less). Passes are good for 7 consecutive days.
- $25 per motorcycle.
- $15 per person (walk or bike).
- Dogs are not permitted on trails in Zion National Park.
Directions to Trailhead
Take the Zion Canyon Shuttle to the Grotto Trailhead and Picnic Area.
Zion Canyon Visitor Center
Closed: December 25
Spring: 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Summer: 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Fall: 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Winter: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. )
Backcountry Info, Camping & Permits Desk (including camping in the Narrows)