Northgate Peaks is one of the best easy hikes in Zion National Park. Few trails in Zion offer so much impressive scenery with so little elevation change. If you’re traveling with children or not-so-strong hikers, Northgate Peaks is one of the most rewarding hikes in the park.
Northgate Peaks Trail Facts
Hiking Time: 1–2 Hours
Distance: 4.4 miles, round-trip
Elevation Change: 100 feet
Northgate Peaks Trailhead
The Wildcat Canyon Trailhead is located just off Kolob Reservoir Road. The adjacent parking area is located 16 miles north of the junction with Route 9 in the town of Virgin.
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Northgate Peaks Trail Description
From the Wildcat Canyon Trailhead, follow the trail through a large meadow into a picturesque forest. After about one mile you’ll reach the junction with the Connector Trail. Veer left and hike about 0.2 miles to the junction with the Northgate Peaks Trail. Turn right (south) and follow the trail to a signed junction.
To the left, a spur trail drops into Russell Gulch, which empties into the Left Fork of North Creek. This spur trail is used by canyoneers descending The Subway. Northgate Peaks hikers should veer right and stay on the broad path.
After about 10 minutes you’ll descend to a lava rock promontory with panoramic views. The twin Northgate Peaks frame a dramatic view of North Guardian Angel (7,395 feet), with the cascading cliffs of West Zion beyond.
The twin Northgate Peaks rise to over 7,000 feet on either side of the viewpoint. The eastern peak has an elevation of 7,153 feet. The western peak (pictured below) has an elevation of 7,267 feet.
Notice the checkerboard cracks (what geologists call “cross-bedding”) in the surrounding Navajo Sandstone. The horizontal cracks are the outlines of ancient sand dunes that existed here 200 million years ago, during the Jurassic Era. At the time, Utah was home to the largest sand dune desert that ever existed on earth. Over millions of years, those sand dunes were compressed and transformed into sandstone.
So when you’re standing at the viewpoint at Northgate Peaks, you’re surrounded by petrified, Jurassic-era sand dunes!
After enjoying the fabulous views, head back the way you came.
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