Pines and Peaks.
The Northgate Peaks Trail is a fun, easy hiking path high in the heart of Zion. For many, Northgate Peaks is a place to get away from the crowds and simply relax in the cooler, higher climes of the Park, surrounded by a very different kind of landscape from Zion Canyon. The trail weaves through tall Ponderosa pine groves throughout its length, and tall, white, monolithic peaks are scattered throughout this region of the Kolob Terrace. The trail ends on a craggy knob of volcanic rock, with views of slickrock, sandstone towers, and big sky all around. It takes about an hour to get here from Springdale, but it's always worth the drive.
An easy hike with minimal elevation change
2 - 3 hours round-trip
Spring through Fall
2.25 miles (3.6 km) each way
250 feet (76 m)
Starts and finishes at Wildcat Canyon Trailhead on the Kolob Terrace Road.
Most of the hike is in the full sun, though there is plenty of shade along the way if you need it.
Sturdy hiking shoes, ample water, and maybe a snack.
None available, bring plenty.
Spring - Due to the high elevation (3,000 feet above Springdale), expect cooler temperatures and possible snow/ice.
Summer - Like most Zion hikes, it's a great idea not to hike Northgate Peaks in the middle of the day. It will probably be 10 degrees cooler than Springdale, however, and there is often a nice breeze. This trail is very busy in the mornings during the summer, as it is the access trail to The Subway.
Fall - Generally a great time to hike this trail.
Winter - Possible snowpack along the trail and road. If there is significant snow, the Kolob Terrace Road is plowed up to the long, steep hill before Wildcat Canyon. If you have hiked this trail without snow, you might enjoy cross country skiing or snowshoing the trail.
This hike is located in Zion's Kolob Terrace Road area. From Springdale, drive south 13.5 miles on Highway 9 toward Virgin. The Kolob Terrace Road is on the right side as you enter Virgin, and has a brown recreation sign with "Kolob Reservoir" listed. As you climb up the steep, paved road, you'll find great views of Smith Mesa, Cave Valley and the Pine Valley Mountains. You'll cross in and out of the park several times (the road changes colors when you do so).
The road makes a hairpin right turn at the bottom of Maloney Hill. (Note: This is the end of plowed roadway in winter.) At the top of the hill, you'll find the Wildcat Canyon Trailhead, 15.5 miles up the Kolob Terrace Road. Pit toilets are available in the parking lot.
Find the trail at the east side of the parking lot and follow it through the fairly flat meadow. Less than a mile into the hike, you'll pass the Wildcat Canyon Connector Trail. A little further on, you'll reach another trail junction with signs for Northgate Peaks trail. Head south, following the sign. Almost immediately, you'll see social trails head left, down into a big slickrock bowl. This is the route to The Subway.
The Northgate trail stays high above the slickrock, weaving in and out of ponderosa groves and tall grasses. Easy hiking takes you out to a nice destination lookout, perched upon a basaltic knob. Views of the "northgate peaks" include North Guardian Angel, South Guardian Angel, East Northgate Peak and Pine Valley Peak.
Most, if not all, of the peaks in the area have been climbed via scrambing or roped climbing. The East and West Northgate Peaks are 2nd and 3rd class scrambling, while the route to the summit of North Guardian Angel requires easy but crumbly 5th class scrambling and a rope to descend.
Enjoy your time at the overlook, then return the way you came.