Hiking to Zion National Park’s Historic Cable Mountain
Do you recognize this wooden structure that sits high on the cliffs overlooking Zion Canyon? Cable Mountain is one of Zion’s best-kept secrets, often attracting only the most determined hikers – but East Zion Adventures has tips to save miles off your trek. And while the views are enough to make it worth it, knowing the history makes the adventure even better. Read on!
Cable Mountain Draw Works
Way back in 1863, Brigham Young predicted that lumber would one day be moved “as the hawk flies” from Cable Mountain. His prophecy came true in 1901 when David Flanigan, a Springdale pioneer, engineered a system of cable works that lowered lumber from the pine forests of Zion’s east rim to the canyon floor 2,000 feet below in just two minutes. Up until then, transporting the same load by wagon was a grueling adventure that could take three to seven days round trip.
The Cable Mountain Draw Works system operated as a single rope tramway with a braking mechanism, and a continuous wire cable that ran between the structure on top of Cable Mountain and a pair of towers on the Zion Canyon floor. The wood mechanism was nearly destroyed by a lightning fire in 1911, and again in the 1920s but was rebuilt each time because the method was so efficient. Hundreds of thousands of feet of lumber were transported from Cable Mountain into Zion Canyon along with goods, people, and the occasional dog.
The operation ran successfully until 1927 when the towers on the canyon floor were removed. The original structure still stands at the top of Cable Mountain and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Hiking to Cable Mountain
Want to see this historic structure? A beautiful hike to Cable Mountain through Zion backcountry will often allow you to have the view all to yourself. There are three ways to get there.
Option 1: A strenuous 15 miles round trip from the Weeping Rock Trailhead in Zion National Park
Option 2: An even longer, 17.5-mile hike from the east entrance of Zion National Park
Option 3: An 8-mile round-trip hike across Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort property
Zion’s Best-Kept Secret
Hikers can avoid the thousands of feet in elevation gain by beginning the hike to Cable Mountain on Zion Ponderosa and entering Zion National Park from the east. This route also cuts the hike nearly in half to less than eight miles round trip, making it even more accessible to hikers who wish to experience this restored historic structure and the remarkable views that surround it. Winter guests also enjoy cross-country skiing and snowshoeing to Cable Mountain right from the front door of their Zion Ponderosa vacation home rentals. Next time you’re visiting Zion Ponderosa, be sure to ask East Zion Adventures staff for guided hiking directions to the trailhead. Trust us – the views are worth the trip!
Photos by Johanna Welling, Greg Frei and Mark Wade