Scout Lookout in Zion National Park is the viewpoint located right at the base of Angel’s Landing, the (in)famous hike that follows along a narrow ridge high above Zion Canyon. If you didn’t get permits for Angel’s Landing or the thought of climbing a steep, narrow ridge clinging to a chain for support makes your stomach churn, you can still hike to Scout Lookout!
But, the question most are probably asking is: is the hike to Scout Lookout worth it?
Yes! The 3.6 mile round trip hike to Scout Lookout leads to the base of Angel’s Landing, giving you nearly all the same views. Best part? No permits required and no terrifying final climb! For some extra entertainment, hangout at Scout Lookout for a bit and watch other hiker’s attempt Angel’s Landing – you won’t be the only one who doesn’t make it to the top!
- Scout Lookout in Zion National Park
- Hike Overview | Scout Lookout in Zion
- Hike Details | Scout Lookout in Zion
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About Scout Lookout in Zion
Scout Lookout sits at the junction of the West Rim Trail and the spur trail to Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park. It gives hikers nearly the full Angel’s Landing experience, without the harrowing climb up the narrow, exposed ridge.
If you weren’t able to get permits for Angel’s Landing or you have a serious fear of heights, we think hiking to Scout Lookout is still worthwhile.
Of course, if you end your hike at Scout Lookout, you will miss out on the stunning view looking straight down Zion Canyon from Angel’s Landing. However, you’ll still get an awesome view of the Angel’s Landing ridge and have the option to continue farther up the West Rim Trail for views similar to those found from the super-popular Angel’s Landing.
Hike Overview | Scout Lookout in Zion
Hiking distance | 3.6 miles
Elevation gain | 1,100 feet
Total time | 2 – 3 hours
Epic-ness rating | 6
Difficulty | Moderate
Find this hike on AllTrails: Scout Lookout via West Rim Trail
- Trail features some of the most beautiful views in Zion
- See the famous Angel’s Landing up close
- You’re so close to Angel’s Landing it may feel like a shame not to climb it
- Trail is steep with a relentless set of switchbacks
How difficult is the Scout Lookout hike?
Although the hike to Scout Lookout is only 3.5 miles round trip, it covers 1,100 feet of elevation gain making for a moderate to difficult hike. The climb up Walter’s Wiggles, a set of 21 very steep switchbacks, is unrelenting and exhausting!
While the hike to Scout Lookout is never particularly narrow, there are a few exposed sections that might be nerve-racking for those with a fear of heights. The trail is well-maintained and easy to follow for the entire path.
When is the best time to hike?
The best time to hike to Scout Lookout in Zion is during the spring (March through May) and fall (September through October).
During the winter, snow is fairly common in Zion National Park which can make the steep trail to Scout Lookout icy and dangerous. If you end up hiking in the winter, make sure you pack a pair of microspikes.
We’d also recommend avoiding this hike during the summer, as temperatures in Zion get extremely hot. Crowds tend to be heavier later in the spring and earlier in the fall, so we think the ideal window of time to hike Scout Lookout is March and October.
Tips for a great hike
- Note that you must have a permit to continue the hike up Angel’s Landing. The first lottery opens 2-5 months in advance of your hike date, so plan far in advance if you would like to tackle the infamous ridge. If you miss the advance lottery, you also have the option to enter lottery the day before you hike.
- Start early! For the best chance to avoid crowds, we recommend getting an early start. In addition, parking at the Zion Visitor Center, where you pickup the shuttle, is known to fill up early.
- We’d highly recommend bringing pair of hiking poles and hiking boots for the steep climb up to Scout Cave.
P.S. To help you plan your trip, we’ve compiled a complete packing list for Zion National Park with all the essentials you’ll need for hiking in the park.
Hike Details | Scout Lookout in Zion
In the section below, we’ll give you all the details about the hike to Scout Cave so you know what to expect.
Parking and getting to the trailhead
The hike to Scout Lookout departs from the Grotto Trailhead in Zion Canyon. The trailhead is located on Zion Scenic Drive, which is not accessible by personal vehicles for the majority of the year. As such, you must take the Zion Park Shuttle from the Visitor Center to the trailhead.
The park shuttle runs from 8:00am until 5:45pm and shuttles depart every few minutes. During peak season, there are often long lines for the shuttle from the Visitor Center. However, the line tends to move quite quickly, and all things considered, it’s a fairly painless experience.
Starting the hike
From the Grotto trailhead, follow signs for Angel’s Landing. The trail crosses over the Virgin River, and starts out with an easy stroll along the water. At half a mile into the hike, the elevation starts to pickup and you will reach the first set of steep switchbacks.
With every twist of the trail, the views get better and better as you ascend higher above the canyon.
After the first set of switchbacks, the trail levels off as you enter Refrigerator Canyon. Take a moment to appreciate the brief reprieve in this shaded section of the trail. However, don’t get too comfortable because the hardest part of the hike to Scout Lookout is yet to come!
Shortly after passing through Refrigerator Canyon, you will encounter the first in a set of 21 steep, tight switchbacks known as Walter’s Wiggles. When you look back down from the top of the switchbacks, it’s quite clear how they got their name!
This is definitely the most challenging section of the hike, but remember there’s a beautiful view waiting for you at the top!
Once you reach the top of Walter’s Wiggles, you will round one last bend and arrive at Scout Lookout! From here, you’ll be treated to stunning views of Zion Canyon and the towering Angel’s Landing ahead.
If you have a fear of heights or didn’t get a an Angel’s Landing permit, this is the perfect spot to hang out and watch other hiker’s tackle the steep climb while enjoying an iconic Zion View!
Continue to Angel’s Landing
If you have permits for Angel’s Landing, continue from Scout Lookout along the spur trail that leads up the narrow ridge. The final push to Angel’s Landing is steep and exposed with a steep drop-off. There is a chain installed to give you a little support as you climb, but hiking boots with good traction are essential to help keep you from slipping.
From Scout Lookout, it’s only 0.4 miles to Angel’s Landing but the trail is steep, gaining about 400 feet of elevation and can be crowded (hopefully the new permitting system helps)!
Continue along the West Rim Trail
If you don’t have permits or don’t have the desire to climb Angel’s Landing, you should definitely continue along the West Rim Trail for even more incredible views. The West Rim is one of the most remote and beautiful areas and few hikers extend their trip into this section of the park.
After Angel’s Landing and Scout Lookout, the West Rim Trail continues to gain elevation and features an epic view looking down over Angel’s Landing! The West Rim Trail continues for about 13 miles past Scout Lookout, so you can choose to hike for as far as you like before turning back.
Other hikes nearby
Planning a road trip through southern Utah? Below you will find additional resources on a few other great hikes nearby:
- Southern Utah | 21 Best Hikes in Southern Utah
- Bryce Canyon | How to Hike the Figure Eight Loop in Bryce Canyon
- Bryce Canyon | Complete Guide to Hiking the Fairyland Loop in Bryce Canyon
- Zion | Zion West Rim Trail: Backpacking Guide
- Grand Canyon | How to Hike to the Bottom of the Grand Canyon
- Grand Staircase Escalante | Ultimate Guide to Hiking Zebra Slot Canyon
- Kanab | Moqui Caverns: A Fun Stop near Kanab
For all things Utah: Utah Travel Guide
Questions about hiking to Scout Lookout in Zion National Park? Let us know in the comments below!