Zion (half) traverse in April '21?

Goat

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Wondering what the locals can tell me about trail conditions in mid-April this year, and best sites to check? Understand the snowpack is relatively light so far, but there's still some winter left. I know about the cyano bloom, and all that, and I'm aware the connector to the east rim is closed.

Thanks
Goat
 

fossana

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Too early to tell about trail conditions, but if you remind me as it gets closer I can head out there to check. It can get pretty muddy up on the W Rim with significant snow or rainfall. Hop Valley is sandier, so not so bad. Given the current trend, NOAA says 40-50% probability of below normal precip so chances are you should be fine. I did S entrance Visitors Center to Lee Pass in a day in mid-April 2017, reasonable conditions.
 
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Goat

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Thanks! I'm getting up to speed on the online reservation system. I see that the April permits open on 5 March...but does anyone know what TIME the free-for-all begins on 5 March? I can't find that information on the park's page.
 

Goat

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Ok, I think I've pieced together how the new Zion permit process goes. I have my ZionExpress login, and think I understand how to quickly select campsites. The system forces you to select a campsite first, then enter 3 choices of dates and finish entering all the data, and only then you can move on to the next campsite reservation. It's a system clearly not set up for making itineraries for multi-night trips. I plan to have 3 of us simultaneously logged in and making reservations for 3 distinct campsites on the same date - it's the only way there's any chance of making this work. By the way, it opens at 10am MT. Now I remember why I hate dealing with national parks, and avoid them...but it's one I haven't hiked so I guess I'll give it a try. Now it's just a question of when in April to try this trip. That will be TBD until we see how the next month goes with the snowpack. Then we give it our best guess.
 

JBPHXAZ

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I did Trans-Zion in mid April of 2018. I found the reservation system to be easy to use and had no problem finding the campsites I wanted when logging on at 10:00. Hopefully you will have the same experience. While the weather conditions will vary from year to year, we had no snowpack on our trip and just some very light flurries on the Connector trail and in Wildcat Canyon (where we camped our second night and it was in the mid 20s for temps). All the trails were dry. Good luck.
 

Goat

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The process has changed somewhat since 2018 (new Covid-era process) but hopefully it won't be like so many other permit grabs, where all 75, or whatever, are gone within 3 minutes. Still, I'm prepare with a fast internet and mouse.
 

Goat

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Ok, we were able to get our permits for 3 nights on the west half of the traverse. Lee Pass to Wildcat/Northgate to West Rim & out. So far, the snowpack is low, so we'll see. Hopefully we can leave our spikes behind. Looks like a pretty leisurely route, even with some water schlepping required due to the cyanobacteria issue.
 

Yvonne

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Crazy that the blooms are still active. I thought they would die off during the winter. Looks like Taylor and LaVerkin Creeks are impacted also, which I hadn't seen reported.
unfortunately not. We need a good-sized flash flood but with the exceptional drought going on in full force not going to happen anytime soon.
I plan on doing the half-Traverse at some point in May. I might even consider going in one long day since it's only 35 miles
 

Janice

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Some friends are heading to the Boulder Mail Trail and Escalante River in a few weeks. Any concerns with the algae bloom there?
 
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napatony13

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I did S entrance Visitors Center to Lee Pass in a day in mid-April 2017, reasonable conditions.
Just started exploring that as a possibility for Fall. How long did it take, how much of it did you run, and it looks like maybe more of it is downhill/runnable going in that direction?
 

zionsky

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I did the West rim (top down) 15 miles last November in 7 hours moving at a decent pace. I could have shaved 1-2 hours off if I was really moving. Of course you lose 3000 feet of elevation over that distance. Lee Pass to West rim is 21 miles with gradual elevation losses in the first 7 miles of around 1000 feet followed by equal elevation gains over the next 7 miles. The last 7 miles are relatively flat. Definitely doable in a day if you get an early start.
 

Yvonne

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I did the West rim (top down) 15 miles last November in 7 hours moving at a decent pace. I could have shaved 1-2 hours off if I was really moving. Of course you lose 3000 feet of elevation over that distance. Lee Pass to West rim is 21 miles with gradual elevation losses in the first 7 miles of around 1000 feet followed by equal elevation gains over the next 7 miles. The last 7 miles are relatively flat. Definitely doable in a day if you get an early start.
that's why I think it's easily doable. I did West Rim/Telephone Canyon Loop last May from Lava Point which was 19 miles and took me 8 hours with the elevation gain on the way back. Not too bad at all. Since Lee Pass to the Grotto is mostly downhill, it should be doable. Just have to figure out options to get back to my car. Ideally, I would start at night on a full moon night and be back at one point that day at the VC.
 

fossana

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Just started exploring that as a possibility for Fall. How long did it take, how much of it did you run, and it looks like maybe more of it is downhill/runnable going in that direction?
I went the opposite direction, ending at Lee Pass. It was roughly 42 miles, and took me ~16 hours (no running and with a ~1 hr nap midway). You'd have to check the water situation in the fall, or slog/cache extra if there's still an algal bloom. There are plenty of runnable sections. There are a few places with easy road access along the route. Andrew Skurka has a mileage chart for the Zion Traverse proper.
 

Goat

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Been watching the Kolob snotel after the recent storm. Looks like there was some snow up high, but already melting pretty good and probably not a lot in Zion I'm guessing. If anyone has a report on the trail above Wildcat Canyon or Kolob Terrace Road, I'd love to hear from you over the next month. We start on April 22nd. Hoping the road opens in time to cache water near Lava Point but if not we'll cache it down Wildcat trailhead instead. Hoping we won't need to bring traction either.
 

John Morrow

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What are your camps? We found small stream flow in the ponderosa pines near the Northgate Trail junction on two separate occasions in April.. I imagine it likely be flowing when you pass.
 

fossana

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What are your camps? We found small stream flow in the ponderosa pines near the Northgate Trail junction on two separate occasions in April.. I imagine it likely be flowing when you pass.
ZNP is currently warning against drinking from all park water sources due to high cyanobacteria bacteria levels in Taylor Ck and the N Fork of the Virgin River. I don't know enough about the park hydrogeology and the ecology of cyanobacteria to definitively say those springs (and the ones close to Lava Point) are safe.
 

fossana

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Been watching the Kolob snotel after the recent storm. Looks like there was some snow up high, but already melting pretty good and probably not a lot in Zion I'm guessing. If anyone has a report on the trail above Wildcat Canyon or Kolob Terrace Road, I'd love to hear from you over the next month. We start on April 22nd. Hoping the road opens in time to cache water near Lava Point but if not we'll cache it down Wildcat trailhead instead. Hoping we won't need to bring traction either.
I just found out I have to have a hip replacement in the near future, so I'm not sure whether I will be able to recon the trail conditions before your trip. It depends on surgery scheduling. Sorry about that.
 

Goat

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Yeah, the rivers and streams are potentially contaminated but springs should be fine. Even the NPS says springs are fine. Camps are LaVerkin #11 (near Beatty Spring), Northgate Peaks area, and West Rim #8 near Potato Hollow springs. Not as concerned about water as ice/snow above wildcat canyon, but expecting Beatty to be good, and hopefully Potato Hollow are flowing. If not, we'll cache and carry.
 
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