Hike the Connector Trail, Zion NP

Hop Valley Trailhead, Virgin, Utah, United States

  • Activities:

    Chillin, Photography, Backpacking, Hiking, Fitness

  • Skill Level:


  • Season:

    Year Round

  • Trail Type:


  • RT Distance:

    4 Miles

Picnic Area

Yet another piece to the epic Trans-Zion Trek or a noteworthy standalone trail in its own right. Calming meadows, sweeping vistas, and slick rock scrambling. A 4 mile (one-way trek) and access route to the Wildcat Canyon Trail. 

This 4-mile (one-way) trek is a multi-functional trail. The trail can serve as standalone trail allowing hikers to get in either a solid in-and-out day hike or as a leg to a much bigger and epic Trans-Zion Trek. For those interested in the later, the Connector Trail is the leg of the journey that either precedes or follows (depending on which side of the park you started) the Hop Valley Trail. For purposes of this adventure, lets focus on the specifics required for this 4-mile trail (going West to East).

*NB: This is not a popular hike so you will likely have all or most of it entirely to yourself. Though the primary purpose of the trail is to “connect” the Hop Valley Trail to the Wildcat Canyon Trail, I personally believe the trail can stand on its own as a great hike.

Starting at the Hop Valley Trailhead, the trail remains relatively flat for the duration of the hike. From the get-go, the trail weaves through a spectacular field that is dominated by off-green sage bushes and tall, bright yellow grasses. Because the grass is so fall, the trail can, at times, literally look like its cutting through butter. The southern view from these fields is dominated by a massive horizon. The contrast between the plain fields on which you are walking and the astonishingly powerful views of the distant cliff faces is stark. The distant valleys and rock formations almost seem unreachable, given the landscapes sheer size and dominance.

After a calming trek through the expansive meadows, you will once again experience a change of scenery. The terrain dips and climbs gradually as you approach a bizarre aspect of this trail – a large field of slickrock. Seemingly out of nowhere, this field of slickrock looks as though it were the remnants of a long-since extinct volcano, plastering the hillside with a large field of hardened stone. Of course no human-trodden trail cuts through the slick rock, however your orientation is aided by the presence of subtle rock cairns. 

Almost immediately after reaching the top of the slickrock formation, you will begin to notice the increasing presence of tall pines. The trail eventually marches right up against Pine Valley Peak, where you will almost feel you can reach out and touch the rock giant.

Moving forward, the forest becomes increasingly dense until you are completely consumed by it. If you are backpacking this trail during the summer, this grove of pines serves as a much-needed escape from the sun. Much like the rest of the hike, the trail is clearly marked by a well-defined path. The trail through the darkened forest will eventually lead to an intersection with the Wildcat Trail. From here you have three choices: turn around and go back, head northwest on the Wildcat Canyon Trail towards the Wildcat trailhead to catch a pick-up car, or continue east along the Wildcat Trail if you are backpacking.

*NB: There are no backcountry camping spots along the Connector Trail. You must continue forward towards the West Rim Trail to find sleeping “accommodations.” 

Pack List

  • SUNSCREEN (Spring and Summer are HO
  • Water (Sources are scarce or contaminated)
  • Sturdy hiking boots
  • Backpacking Kit (Season Appropriate and Optional)
  • Camera
  • Eagerness
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Be sure to pack plenty of water with you on this trail as it lands directly in the middle of a 17-mile stretch of no clean water sources on the Trans-Zion Traverse. Runners, beware - don't underestimate this stretch if you think 4 miles sounds like a breeze, most of this trail consists of deep sand that will slow your pace and fill your shoes.

4 months ago
4 months ago

I wouldn't call myself an expert or a novice, but cautiously optimistic of my skill set. I set out from the Hop Valley Trailhead, crossing the road and with relative ease, picking up the trail towards Wildcat Canyon. The views are spectacular, the landscape ever changing (and relatively easy). Once you pass thru the initial set of woods and catch up with the rocks, simply follow the rocks upwards... I got lost on the way back briefly but again, I'm an idiot, so you'll be fine. Magnificent views - if anyone ever wants to go, I'm in Las Vegas and ready when you are. Cheers! Zach zengland100@gmail.com

10 months ago
10 months ago

Mike Quine Storyteller

...a year long journey through the American landscape of our National Parks. Disengaged from societal pursuits to set out alone and face the uncertainty guaranteed by the Wilderness. Hardening both hands and mind through tempered resolve.

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