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This trail is used mainly by equestrians making it less pleasant for hikers. It leads in a two-mile loop across the pinyon juniper covered Sand Bench.

This trail leads from Zion Canyon Scenic Drive in a two mile loop to a bench below The Streaked Wall. It is heavily used by concessionaires for horseback tours. The track begins at the Court of the Patriarchs viewpoint. Hikers should cross the scenic drive from the parking area, which will lead to a foot bridge spanning the North Fork Virgin River. From the bridge the trail follows Birch Creek for a short distance to a fork. This is the beginning and end of the Sand Bench Loop. This description follows a counterclockwise loop.

Turn right at the first trail junction and continue walking along the northern side of the Birch Creek drainage to another trail junction. The trail entering from the right leads roughly one mile along the riverside to Zion Lodge. Turn left at this junction to begin the Sand Bench Loop. The route soon crosses Birch Creek and begins gaining elevation steadily.

The first three-quarters of a mile leads along Birch Creek and through a forested area. The trail then enters the pinyon juniper forest and hikers are exposed to the hot rays of the desert sun. The southern portion of the Sand Bench Loop leads through the pinyon juniper plant community.

Leaving the creek the trail passes beneath The Sentinel a 7,157-foot peak above the bench land. The Sentinel hovers above the track for most of the loop. South of this formation is The Streaked Wall. Hikers and horseback riders will be able to view this formation as the trail begins to loop back to the trailhead. The lower portion of the loop leads through forested terrain, providing coverage from the hot sun.

Directions: From South Entrance, Drive northward to the Zion Canyon Visitor Center and take the shuttle into the canyon. Disembark from the shuttle at the Court of the Patriarchs Viewpoint. Hikers should cross the scenic drive and use the foot bridge to access the Sand Bench trail.

Elevation: 4,200 feet

Ending Elevation: 4,200 feet

Usage: Heavy horse traffic

Difficulty: Easy

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Zion National Park, Utah

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The details, dates, and prices mentioned here were accurate at the time of publication.

Review by Wildernet Copyright © 2010 all rights reserved.