Repaving begins on popular Zion National Park trail

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ZION NATIONAL PARK -- Road and trail crews in Zion National Park began work Monday on a major repaving of one of the park’s most popular trails. Park supervisors say they’re not trying to ruin vacations, but it’s a necessary part of safety.

The Observation Point trail will be closed Monday through Thursday from now until October. Trails supervisor Stan Belinte said they’ll try and keep the trail open on the weekend, as long as safety will allow. The Hidden Canyon portion will be completely inaccessible form July to August.

The closure meant some frustration to hikers who had planned on seeing the canyon from the top.

“Extremely disappointed,” said hiker Sal Reynoso. “This is our second time to Zion. Last year we went to Angel’s Landing and the Narrows, so this was actually the next thing on our list.”

Belinte said there’s no good time to shut down the trails. They were first paved in the 1920’s and 30’s, many of them part of the Civilian Conservation Corps. There have been minor repairs here and there, but never a complete overhaul.

“They’re in disrepair,” Belinte said. “A lot of patchwork of concrete that are on these trails, so we need to get these in a better place.”

Repaving the very steep Observation Point trail is specialized work, and requires some specialized equipment. One of the major pieces of equipment is a mechanical wheelbarrow, crews will use it to bring all the old debris out and bring all the new rock and cement up.

Hikers like Reynoso are keeping a positive attitude about the closures, saying it just ensures a return trip next year.

Trail crews rotate through areas of the park repairing trails. The funds to repair the trails come from park entrance fees.