The Sand Bench Trail is a relatively unused trail in the Scenic Zion Canyon Drive. It is used for horse trail rides from April to October. The best time for hiking is outside this time frame as the sandy trail gets pretty churned up by horses.
This is a very beautiful trail with great views of the canyon from above the tree line.
Overall rating = moderate
Distance: 4.2 miles total – moderate
Elevation gain: ~800 feet – moderate
Terrain: sand trail – moderate
Exposure: None except short sections on the return – easy
To see the trail rating system used here see Trail Rating System
If coming from the west take SR9 through Springdale, Utah, into Zion National Park. Turn left at the Canyon Scenic Drive just after crossing the Virgin River bridge.
If coming from the east turn onto SR9 at the Mount Carmel Junction and drive into Zion National Park. Drive through the main Zion tunnel and take the switchbacks down the mountain to the junction of the Canyon Scenic Drive and turn right.
From April to October the Scenic Canyon Drive is not open to public cars and you must take the shuttle. Park or get off the Shuttle at the Court of the Patriarchs stop.
Cross the Canyon Drive road to the north west and follow the paved road past the horse corral to the bridge across the Virgin River.
From here the trail continues north west up a grade and then winds around to the left and back down to a small stream which you must cross. From here the trail continues upwards in a south west direction for a short distance to a junction. Taking the right fork you travel up and along a large landslide. Eventually you come down to a large rock field from an ancient rock fall. At this point there is a horse corral and restroom.
The trail then loops around and returns along the edge overlooking the main canyon. There are some terrific views from this point.