Coalpits Wash

Coalpits Wash is a good winter hike, but this route is too hot to hike in the summer.  Starting early is a must if the plan is to finish the trail in one, short winter day.  Many like to do this as a backpacking trip when other backpacks in Zion are closed due to snow.

Zion Book: Favorite Hikes in and around Zion National ParkAt a Glance
Photo Album:
Coalpits Trail Pictures
Trail Map: Coalpits Wash Map
South Zion Trail Map
Day Hike: Yes, but often done as a backpack. The trail can be difficult to finish on the short winter days.
Camping: Stay at least .25 miles from springs and stay out of site of the trail. Do not camp near the trailhead. Camp at previously used sites or slickrock to reduced impact. There are several areas after the oil remnant site for camping. A permit is required for camping.
Trail Distance: 14 miles round trip
Average Hiking Time: 8-10 hours
Trail Usage: The trail gets low use most of the year, but in the winter when other backpacks are closed for ice or snow then this trail can get several hikers on it.
Pack Trail:
Yes, pack animals are allowed with restrictions.
Moderate, with little elevation chang. The trail is long trail and route finding skills are required. This is a good route for runners unless someone has hiked it while wet and its full of pot holes.
Sun Exposure: This trail is not recommended during the hot days of summer due to the low elevation and exposure to full sun.
Required for camping.
Trail Conditions: This is a dirt path with some stream crossing and simple bouldering.
7.3 miles south of the south entrance gate. Look for the Coalpits Wash sign. Turn off on the right side of the road and park in the flat area.
Trailend: Same as trailhead
Trail Access: The trail is located just off highway 9, outside the main section of Zion National park, on the far south side.
Best Season: Avoid this trail in the summer due to the low elevation and full sun. This is a good winter hike but most hikers will not be able to make it to the end of the trail and back in winter daylight.
Off the Beaten Path: Yes
Classic Zion Hike: No
Starting Elevation: 3666'
Ending Elevation: 4120'
Highest Elevation: 4500'
Restrooms: None. Pack out all trash including toilet paper.

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Historic Oil Artifacts
There is a unique collection of historic oil artifacts along this hike, which seem odd to stumble upon when hiking in Zion National Park. The rusted old metal is left over from the 1800s, before the area was included as part of the Mukuntuweap National Monument and later Zion National Park. The oil well artifacts are found at mileage 5.23 with about 1.5 miles left in the hike. The tributary past the rusty metal remnants is Jennings Wash. Two other un-named tributary washes enter from the south.

Towers of the Virgin, Altar of Sacrifice, the Bishopric
Waterfalls, when present, are more abundant near the canyon's end. The Bishopric, Towers of the Virgin and the Altar of Sacrifice are visible in the last couple of miles of this hike.

Directions to Zion National Park

From the North: Travel I-15 south, past Beaver. exit on Hwy 20. Follow US-89 to Mount Carmel Junction. Take SR-9 to Zion's east entrance.
From Arizona: Travel US-89A through Fredonia, Arizona and Kanab Utah. Follow US-89 to Mount Carmel Junction. Take SR-9 to the east park entrance.
From the South: Travel I-15 north. Take exit 16 and travel through Hurricane to LaVerkin. Continue on SR-9 to the south entrance of the park. SR-9 through Zion National Park is always open and is also called the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway. See restrictions for RV's.

Zion National Park Maps

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Zion's Coalpits Hike

The Coalpits trail follows a stream.


Lodging Zion National Park
Lodging Zion National ParkLodging and services are available on the gorgeous east side of Zion National Park, where guests are close to Zion National Park (12 miles), Bryce Canyon National Park (60 miles), Cedar Breaks National Monument (45 miles), Coral Pink Sand Dunes (12 miles), and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon (85 miles). It's where city traffic is absent and the skies are bright and clean.

please link to meCoalpits Wash Trail
This desert trail is the lowest point in Zion National park at 3666'. The trail traverses a pinyon-juniper desertscape along the Coalpits drainage near the base of the Cougar Mountain wilderness area. Huber Wash, Scoggins and Coalpits Wash are all drainage's that confluence with the Virgin River and are located in the same general area. The Coalpits Trail runs along a fairly reliable water drainage for the length of the hike. Coalpits does occasionally dry up during the summer. Although the start of the trail is far out of the main section of the park and leads through sagebrush, power lines and often muddy passages, the later part of the hike is charming with nice waterfalls. Watch for petrified wood.

Basaltic Lava
Along the first 2-miles of the route watch for basalt rock formations. Basaltic lava broke through faults damming the Coalpits Wash long ago, leaving behind a cinder cone, Crater Hill, as evidence of the last eruption there. Crater Hill is not visible from this hike, but two other basalt covered mountain are. One is prior to the Coalpits and Scoggins confluence and the other is located across from the junction.

Coalpits Trailhead
Drive 7.3 miles past the parks south toll booth, past Springdale and past Rockville. Look for the small sign labeling the Coalpits Wash, just past Huber Wash. Turn off the road there and park in the flat dirt area. The trailhead is north of the parking area. The Scoggins Trail and Coalpits trail share the same trailhead. The elevation is 3666'. Begin by locating the well traveled dirt path. The water flow is to the left and becomes distant during some parts of the initial trail. Continue down the path past the power lines, around the sagebrush and through the ditches. Soon black basalt rock will become evident, up high, on the left. The trail passes closer to low rock formations on the right, now distant from the water. The moenkopi formation can be seen up high on the left. Before long the trail begins to meander closer to the water. Some small waterfalls and large boulders add interest to the otherwise barren landscape. A few interesting conglomerates are present, made up of stones that have been cemented together by nature.

Coalpits Wash and Scoggins Wash Junction
This junction is directly in front of the second basalt mountain. There is a large tree between the two washes where they separate. At the Coalpits and Scoggins Wash confluence, follow the path (left) west. This junction is 1.3 miles into the hike. The next section of the trail becomes more interesting. There are larger boulders along the water and stream crossing to find a path to walk along the wash. Coalpits has a more reliable water source, compared to Scoggins, making it a more enjoyable trail when the water is not flowing in Scoggins.

Coalpits Wash and Chinle Trail Junction
The wash narrows and the elevation increases slightly from 3794' at the confluence of Scoggins and Coalpits to 4407' at the Chinle and Coalpits junction. It will take 3-4 hours to reach this point. Evergreens brighten the path during a winter hike. The West Temple is evident bordering the edge of the main section of Zion National Park as well as the Towers of the Virgin, Altar of Sacrifice and the Bishopric. Cougar Mountain has been in view to the north during much of the hike.

Trail History
Rattlesnakes are common along this trail during the hotter months of the year. At the 90 degree bend, where the big boulders line the edges, is a cougars den. Cougar prints are common along the trail. Do not hike the trail when it's wet. Many of the areas are clay and hikers sink into the mud making it a difficult hike and very difficult for those that hike in your dried tracks. (When hiking from Chinle or Scoggins up to the Old Stock Trail, the area is heavy with clay.) The trail was named for the basalt rock on the first part of the trail that resemble coal.

zion National Park CanyoneeringGPS Coordinates WGS84 Datum

Coalpits Trailhead
Elevation: 3666'

Junction of Coalpits
and Scoggins Wash
1.6 miles
Elevation: 3794'

Junction of Coalpits
and Chinle
3.2 miles
Elevation: 4407'

Oil Mine Artifacts
5.23 miles
Elevation: 4279'

GPS coordinates are only references and may or may not be accurate. Do not rely on GPS coordinates as the sole method of navigation. Always have an accurate, detailed map at hand and have the proper map reading and navigation skills before setting out on any hike. Many of the hikes listed in this guide travel into canyons where a GPS has limited capabilities. Always check your position with a detailed map before dropping into a canyon.

Exploration of the Chinle Trail, Scoggins Wash or Huber Wash.

Beta: Coordinates and other trail and canyoneering information by Zion Park search and rescue veteran team member Bo Beck and author Mary Cisneros.

To post trip reports, offer corrections, updates, or for more information please visit the Zion National Park Forum

Suggested Gear: A sturdy pair of shoes are recommend to hike the trails in Zion National Park. Many quality shoes will help grip the rocks and prevent injury.


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