Overview : Standing watch as guardians over the Kolob Terrace section of Zion National Park, North and South Guardian Angels can be seen from the... more »
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Standing watch as guardians over the Kolob Terrace section of Zion National Park, North and South Guardian Angels can be seen from the... more » maintained Northgate Peaks trail.
The summit of South Guardian Angel can be reached in a difficult full day backcountry route extension approaching 7,400' accumulated feet of elevation change. Dropping hikers 1,400 feet down a rugged, wandering, series of gully's and washes which involve numerous scramble and route finding skills. Arriving at the stream bed for the Left Fork of North Creek. A short reprieve to take on water in the Subway before climbing out the other side.
A high country stroll along a wide sandy wash then entering a series of slickrock bowls. A stunning ridge line scramble to the summit makes it little wonder why this hike is part of the "desert classic peak" hikes of the Sierra Clubs "top one-hundred desert peaks" to climb. less «
Backcountry Route! Safely hiking backcountry routes depend on your own good judgment, adequate preparation, and constant attention to ... more »your surroundings. Your safety is your responsibility.
Full day hike. Plan on 10 - 12 hours.
In my pack:
75' 7mm static pull rope (used)
25' webbing, harness, rappelling device, locking carabiner (3), rapid release (2), GPS, Camera, Cell phone, TOPO map, compass, gloves, extra batteries, extra socks (2), first aid kit, headlamp, knife, sunscreen, bug spray, matches, light sticks, emergency Bivouac kit.
Lunch & lots of energy snacks
Water: 6 liters** (88 degrees F) or water filtration system.
** I used 160+oz water, carried 96 oz and filtered 64 oz from the North Fork as well as topping off on the hike in. Water exists in the wash leading to South Guardian Angel, but it is stagnate horrible looking stuff. Use filter and chemicals to make it drinkable in an emergency.
Good shoes for slickrock scrambling.
Permit: NOT required for South Guardian Angel scramble.
Special Thanks to Bo Beck and Tanya Milligan for their Zion National Park hiking guide, their link can be found under "My favorite site for all things Zion" in Other Resources
A GPS track can be downloaded for another device from Other Resources under "Trip Report". less «
Heading toward Zion National park on Hwy-9, turn north on the Kolob Reservoir road, located on the east side of Virgin, Utah. The road is narrow, but paved.
Stop at the Northfork trailhead parking lot (this parking lot is the end of The Subway hike and often hikers are attempting to set up a shuttle system by dropping off their car at the bottom ... Moreand hitchhiking to the trailhead). It's good manners to stop and look to see if someone needs a ride.
Continue the drive toward Wildcat Canyon trailhead, which serves as the trailhead for Wildcat canyon, The Subway, and Northgate Peaks.Less
The path merges with the Hop Valley trail and continues east. Another junction soon separates Hop Valley trail and The Subway Trail - Northgate Trail again by turning south.
The Subway Trail and Northgate Trail junction. The Subway Trail continues east dropping down into the canyon, while the Northgate Trail continues south along the plateau.
Stay on Northgate Trail.
Mostly shaded by Ponderosa Pine trees, the wide path meanders toward large slickrock caps that are starting to make an appearance between the trees.
Drop off the lava point to the left (east) follow the well worn path to the base of Northgate Peak East. The path is well marked, class 2 backcountry route.
Follow the wash and faint path to the south. A fair amount of bushwacking is needed as the trail crosses over the wash and up along the soft dirt hillside of Northgate Peak East. Dropping... More onto the vegetative plateau between Northgate Peak East and North Guardian Angel.Less
Begin the long descent into the Left Fork of North Creek by crossing over on the hikers right of the small sandstone caps and into the minor slickrock bowl. Move to hikers left (east) following the plentiful shelf systems and descending at the same time, soon the form of a ridge line is noted.
Once on the ridge line continue to descend,... More traveling in a southward direction following the wide ridge line looking for cairns.Less
Frequent cairns mark the steep path that drops into the Subway, but good route finding skills are still required. The path crosses 2 - 3 different washes on it's descent. If you travel very far without seeing a cairn, backtrack and look a full 360 degrees. The path often moves back along a shelf system before dropping into another wash.
... More Bushwacking, short down climbs, sand and slickrock is plentiful so wear long pants and good scramble shoes.Less
The river bottom is peaceful and quiet. Refill water supply (filter and purify).
Directly across the stream bed a sandy wash enters the Subway. A well worn trail traverses up the sandy hillside (30') to Left Fork Arch. This jug handle shaped arch makes a nice photo opportunity.
To the hikers left of Left Fork Arch, proceed up the wash about 50'. A slab leads to a boulder problem. This short 15' class 5.4 move right leads above the boulder and becomes wash class 3 scramble. A tree above the boulder has webbing for belay and rappelling on the descent.
Note: a class 3 work-around can be found in the next gully to the... More right from Left Fork Arch which leads to the ledge system above. I didn't have a chance to verify this route or the classification.Less
The saddle marks the end of the climb out of Left Fork of North Creek. Follow the faint trail into the next wash and proceed in a north-northeastern direction up the wash. Skirt the ridge line to the north and drop into the next wash east.
Follow this long wash in a southerly direction about .75 - 1 mile. A large wash enters about the .5 mile ... Moremark, but continue along the main wash.Less
The sandy wash ends fairly abruptly, climb up the sandy rise at the end and follow the faint trail around the ridge passing through scrub oak and Ponderosa pine trees. You will begin to notice a very large wash to the east falling away as you climb.
Head toward the sandstone ridges and the obvious gap. The white tip of South Guardian Angel is... More becoming more prominent.
Between the sandstone gaps, hoodoos and buttresses is a flat sandstone slab with a table hoodoo in the center.Less
The slickrock bowls are class 3 scramble, good shelf systems allow for access. Be sure to look behind you at the changing landscape, several entrance points exist and you don't want to drop all the way to the bottom of the wash to exit.
Directly in the center near the top of the steepest bowl is a giant individual hoodoo. Proceed to... More this point, then cross the easy class 2 bowl to the ridge and saddle.Less
The ridge line gives way to the high summit, continue south skirting the several hoodoos that dot the summit area. A short scramble behind a pine tree and up to the final hoodoo is class 3+. Drop low and horizontal to the ledge system will keep the traverse under class 4.
The return trip is long and tedious. Use caution at the crux (POI #13) setting up the rappel. Be sure to check water supplies and top off reserves at the Subway. Verify headlamp and GPS in good working order before it gets dark.