If you are looking for a hike that is rewarding both physically and visually, look no further than Sand Bench Loop. This intermediate 3.5 mile hike will leave you feeling like you accomplished something, and got a great view along the way.
Start out at the Bridge of the Patriarchs (shuttle stop for the Court of the Patriarchs); you’ll see it on the left side of the canyon as you enter Zion’s. Cross the Virgin River and make the initial ascent of about 500 feet. True to its name, the bench is sandy which makes it an easier climb for horses than people. Still, if you continue on, the reward is worth it. Once you reach the shelf – created by an ancient landslide – you’ll get an up-close view of the Patriarchs. Continue on toward the fork in the trail. This is where the loop begins – either direction you choose will bring you back to this same place. Heading to the right, you’ll find a great view of the mountain; heading to the left, you’ll find a great view of the canyon bottom and remnants of the rocky landslides that created the shelf. Be sure to admire the Sentinel! This impressive and landmark mountain is what created the Sand Bench Loop in the first place.
A few tips:
- Watch out for horse droppings
- Take this hike in the morning to avoid direct sunshine during the summer months
- Plan ahead and bring a picnic! At the far end of the loop is a picnic area overlooking the mouth of Zion Canyon and switchbacks.
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