two short hikes on unique slickrock terrain at the south end of Lake Powell, Arizona
Hanging Garden & the Chains Guide
MAP: Trails Illustrated shows the entirety of Glen Canyon, but the scale is too big to show this area in detail
PERMITS: no Recreation Area fees are collected in this area
DESIGNATION: Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
BEST SEASONS: anytime, but summer is hot!
DISTANCE: Hanging Garden is 1.2 mile round trip – distance varies on the Chains as you choose your own adventure
ELEVATION: ~3,800ft with very little change
ACCESS: well-graded gravel road to the trailhead
DIRECTIONS: The Hanging Garden Trailhead is located a short distance east of Glen Canyon Dam, on the south side of Highway 89. If you’re coming from the west, look for the road (marked with a hiker sign) immediately to your left after crossing the bridge. The Chains is at the end of this short road.
This short pair of hikes is excellent for late-afternoon sunset photography, allowing you get up close and personal with the shores of Lake Powell. As opposed to most of the other destinations near Page (Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend) this area has no permits or fees.
The Hanging Garden Trail is a short, easy hike with a cool view but relatively mundane destination.
The do-it-yourself nature of the hike at The Chains offers a sense of solitude amid the busy tourist destination of Page, Arizona. Don’t let the dramatic name of “The Chains” fool you – it’s a simple hike along the edge of the lake.
Dogs are allowed, but this is a day-use area, open from 8am through sunset.
The map below is a simplified, schematic look at the area.
The thick, magenta-colored line represents Highway 89. The thin dark line to the right of the water shows the road that leads to the trails.
Hanging Gardens trailhead is shown, whereas the Chains trailhead is represented by the loop at the north end of the road. Neither trail extends beyond the shown peninsula that extends into Lake Powell.
The yellow-orange color designates the city of Page.
The Hanging Garden Trail
The Hanging Garden Trail is a family-friendly, easy 1.2 mile round trip hike. The destination at the hanging garden itself is underwhelming, but the trail offers a diversion to a scenic lookout that makes the stop worthwhile.
This patch of maidenhair fern growing in such an arid environment is an interesting sight for a naturalist – or anyone with an appreciative eye – but it’s an otherwise anticlimactic destination for your average visitor.
Fortunately this scenic lookout comes to the rescue. Marked with a signpost as a short diversion off the trail, a quick scramble up the sculpted slickrock is easy, rewarding, and fun.
The Chains is the name given to the informal hiking area at the end of the access road. From here it’s an easy scramble to the edge of the lake.
Please stay out of the water, unless you’re a very strong swimmer! The water depth increases quickly and dramatically. Its surface is often warm and temperate for swimming in the summer months.
Otherwise, simply take your time and enjoy choosing your own path over the intriguing slickrock. It’s not often that you have such a unique terrain under your feet!
You’ll likely see several places where careless visitors have carved their names into the soft sandstone. Don’t let the existing graffiti inspire you to leave a mark of your own – this is NOT okay!
My Trip Notes and Photos
My first visit to this area was no February 26, 2010. While exploring Page for the first time, I noticed the “hiking trail” sign along the highway near the bridge, and decided to explore.
I parked at the end of the road for The Chains, and had a great time wandering and exploring the edge of the lake. It was close to sunset and the lighting was spectacular.
Much later on January 27, 2019, Haley and I had a little time to kill in Page and deliberately sought out this pair of hikes. The cloudy mid-morning weather was equally good for photography.
On this return trip, I was surprised to see that the Hanging Garden Trail and The Chains referred to this specific area. On my first visit, I missed the Hanging Garden Trail entirely. Maybe it’s a new construction?