Northgate Peaks Hike: Zion National Park
Trail Name: Northgate Peaks
Location: Kolob Terrace in Zion National Park
Difficulty: The trail is easy, climbing the peaks is strenuous
Length: 4.4 miles roundtrip, each peak adds 0.25–0.5 miles
Family-friendly: The trail is family-friendly, but the peaks are less so
Dog-friendly: Dogs are not allowed
This hiking guide specifically concerns climbing East Northgate and West Northgate Peaks at the end of the Northgate Peaks Trail, not the trail itself.
Located in the Kolob Terrace portion of Zion National Park, the Northgate Peaks trail is a spectacular trail with amazing views. It’s perfect for families as it’s basically flat, and the incredible views of North Guardian Angel and the twin Northgate Peaks can’t be beat.
Northgate Peaks trailhead Access
From St. George, travel north on Interstate 15 for seven miles to exit 16. Take Utah State Route 9 to La Verkin, 12.5 miles further. Turn right on Utah State Route 9 and drive 6.3 miles east to Virgin. Turn left onto Kolob Terrace Road, and continue for 15.7 miles to a short spur road on the right leading to the Wildcat Trailhead. A large parking area is a few hundred feet further.
The trail begins eastward through Ponderosa Pines and grassy plains, offering incredible views of the stately Pine Valley Peak that looms to the west. After winding though the forest for about a mile, you will intersect the Hop Valley trail. A mere 0.1 mile further is the Northgate Peaks Trail.
Follow this trail for another mile. It ends at a rocky basalt bluff. Here, you will be treated to breathtaking views of the Northgate Peaks to the east and west and of North Guardian Angel to the south. This is a great turnaround spot for families with children.
For those who have come seeking a thrill, however, the adventure has just begun.
Option No. 1: East Northgate Peak
The small ridge of East Northgate Peak to your left is the easiest of the three climbs ahead of you. The trail up the north face is steep but not difficult. a Climber’s trail descends to the east from the bluff. Follow it toward the slickrock area and the northern toe of East Northgate Peak. Heading up the mountain from here, find the trail leading to the peak’s summit. You will know you have left the trail if you find yourself scrambling up steep terrain, and small rock cairns guide the pathway to the top where you are met with astonishing views of North Guardian Angel and the deep canyon of the Subway. Backtrack to descend.
Option No. 2: West Northgate Peak
West Northgate Peak, to the right of the bluff, offers a more challenging climb than its eastern counterpart. Follow the same trail as above, but then head south in a draw until you are able to navigate across the toe of the rocky bluff. Wind around the northeast side of West Northgate Peak, and continue hiking until reaching the north face. Choose the path of least resistance here, and begin to scramble upwards. There can be several steep class 4 sections, but shrewd route-finding skills should keep the scrambling manageable. Continue to the summit.
As always, pack a camera, plenty of water, and snacks.