Trail Length: 3.3 miles round trip
About 350 feet elevation gain
I like the Watchman Trail. It's one of the easy trails to get to in the park (literally park at the visitor center) and then head up. It is usually busy during the day, but at sunset, the place is mostly vacant. The trail itself is easy enough to follow and is well maintained and isn't too dangerous though there are a few cliffs.
Park at the visitor center and follow the Pa' rus trail until you see the sign that says Watchman Trail. Or follow the road that leads to RV parking until it intersects with the
Watchman trail. You can't miss it.
The trail itself starts off a bit rolly. It climbs up and down over a few dry washes before it begins to climb up the rock face towards the overlook above. It zig-zags for a bit, with one spot that people have a tendency to trick people, just keep an eye out and you won't find yourself looking at the edge of a cliff and realizing you didn't make your turn. The trail crosses one spring and once you hit that point, it's almost a straight shot to the top of the hill.
At the top of the hill is kind of a natural landing that gives nice views of The Watchman and the West Temple. If you want this is a good spot to turn around and head back, but if you want to increase the length of your hike, this is not the beginning of a small look that wraps around the mesa providing a bit different perspective of the landscape here.
Generally of the four times I have hiked this trail, I usually stop at the first major landing. It's nice and provides all the views you could want. If you want a slightly more wide-open view. Follow the loop trail down a smidge until the trail comes to a point overlooking the valley below. This spot gives a more 360-degree panorama.
As for the rest of the loop. I have done some of it but not all of it. It begins to take you further away from the best views. I stopped after I realized it wasn't really taking me to anything I wanted to see and backtracked to my favorite spots for sunset. I really like this hike and highly recommend anyone to do it if they have time in Zion. It's a solid winner.
If you are interested in picking up my Zion Photography Guide which has more details on photographing this location and others in zion please head over to my photography website and purchase it there.