Hidden Gems of Zion
Lower Telephone Creek is not a household name in Zion National Park. Ask a ranger, get a blank stare: It's simply another obscure place name among hundreds. But if you want to get off the trail in Zion's backcountry to look for cougar tracks, or a band of wide-eyed deer poised to flee, or a Mexican spotted owl stretching its muscles for the night's hunt, then Telephone is for you.
Telephone Creek is so benign that you'll wonder why there aren't footprints everywhere. Two reasons: You must walk 90 minutes along a trail (and gain 1,500 feet) just to reach the point where you leave it for Telephone Creek. Second, most hikers on this main trail have a single-minded goal, a good one indeed: Reach the West Rim of Zion or bust.
Park half a mile north of Zion Lodge, cross the Virgin River, then follow the signed trail toward Angel's Landing and the West Rim. This path is Zion's most spectacular, a miracle of trail building. An hour's walk will bring you to a junction at Scout Lookout, below Angel's Landing. Turn north and take the trail leading toward the West Rim for about a mile until reaching a sturdy bridge. Continue along the trail for about 350 yards, then leave it and drop down a slope and cross a prominent watercourse.
Move north into a wide basin filled with pines and junipers. Where you walk is irrelevant; any direction will take you into untrammeled country, full of surprises. Telephone Creek, if you're lucky, will contain water, mosses, ferns, and birds. Small tortuous slots nearby lead to colorful sandstone shelves; these lead to gnarled trees and overpowering cliffs. You can wander at will through much of this landscape; one worthwhile destination, if you need an actual goal, is the ridge crest to the east, where you'll gaze down 1,500 feet toward the Narrows of the Virgin River.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication