There are so many hikes in Zion National Park, that it would take months…maybe even years to cover them all in detail. We all know about the famous Angels Landing, The Zion Narrows, and The Subway. Most people have even heard of Emerald Pools and Weeping Rock.
But what about all those other hikes you wish you knew about but don’t?
Sometimes these hikes are deep in the backcountry. Sometimes they are right in front of our faces. Wherever they are, they are calling our names and making us hungry for more.
But this hike… is the one that everyone wishes they knew about and doesn’t.
It’s called Birch Hollow and it is one in a million.
…yet it’s a forgotten gem in the canyoneering world. Because it doesn’t hold the stigma of being within the Zion National Park boundary people often skip over it. Not only does Birch Hollow offer some of the best canyoneering to be had anywhere, it can be combined with two of Zion’s classic canyons, Orderville Canyon and the Zion Narrows.
Do I have your attention now?
Getting to Birch Hollow:
Zion Rock Mountain Guides
We left from Springdale – at the Zion Rock & Mountain Guide shop, where we geared up, met our guide Andy (who had the friendliest smile, a head-full of dreadlocks, and a lifetime of canyoneering experience), and hopped in the vehicle that would take us to our hike. (Using these guides is hands down the easiest and best way to experience Zion Canyon. Even for experienced hikers and climbers.) Head to the east side of Zion Canyon through the tunnel and beyond. If you know where Zion Ponderosa is, that helps.
Exit the Zion National Park from the east gate and drive 2.4 miles. Turn left at the junction of North Fork Road and SR-9. Drive 5.2 miles up the paved road to the Zion Ponderosa Ranch. Don’t drive into the ranch, but re-set your odometer and continue on the –now dirt– North Fork Road. When the odometer hits 3.2 miles you are at Birch Hollow. There is a place to pull over on the left side of the dirt road. The wash on the left is where the hike begins.
Now that the drive is over let the real fun begin!
Start down the wash and enjoy about 1.2 miles of leisure hiking. Through rocks, trees and absolutely beautiful scenery this trail will wind until you reach the first rappel. Gear up and get ready for an amazing ride!
Did We Mention?
You will want to either be experienced at canyoneering or take a Zion Rock Mountain Guide with you.
The first rappel is maybe 40-50 feet, but it really breaks you in for the rest of what is to come. Don’t let the sharp edge intimidate you, as you descend it really gets fun! There was water dripping from the wall as it inverted and felt so nice and cool. The unknown was more intimidating for me, but seeing this picture reminds me how fun, and easy, it actually was!
Birch Hollow Rappel
After a few more small drops, you will approach the king rappel. About 100 feet of glorious tube that gives you the thrill of a lifetime!
After working your way through 10 amazing rappels, you will exit right into Orderville Canyon! If you have the proper permitting, feel free to navigate down the canyon, through the Narrows and to the Temple of Sinawava.
If you didn’t permit, turn right (up) and head back up to the dirt road where you started. It’s a strenuous hike, but worth the overall experience!
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Here are a few links that will help in your Zion National Park trip planning!