Hike Wildcat Canyon Trail, Zion NP

Wildcat Canyon Trailhead

Another piece to the epic Trans-Zion Trek or a noteworthy standalone trail in its own right. Calming meadows, ponderosa pine groves, and plunging canyons! A 5.8 mile (one-way trek) and access route to the West Rim Trail.

This 5.8 mile (one-way) trek is a multi-functional trail. The trail can serve as standalone trail allowing hikers to get in either a solid in-and-out day hike or as a leg to a much bigger and epic Trans-Zion Trek. For those interested in the later, the Wildcat Canyon Trail is the leg of the journey that either precedes or follows (depending on which side of the park you started) the  Connector Trail for the Hop Valley Trail. For purposes of this adventure, lets focus on the specifics required for this 5.8 mile trail.

Starting at the Wildcat Canyon Trailhead, follow the trail roughly 1+ miles to the intersection with the Connector Trail. The trail proceeds East - Southeast from here in a more or less straight shot (as the bird flies) in the direction of the Wildcat Canyon (or West Rim Trail).  Keep in mind, if you are planning this as a day hike to the Canyon and back, your journey will amass to upwards of 10+ miles.

The trail starts on relatively flat terrain, traversing through a open forest or pine trees. Upon exiting the forest, the view opens up, allowing you to catch some of the surrounding valleys. Now in a wide open meadow, you are able to see the nearby rock formations clearly. These massive formations seem to appear out of nowhere and are made up predominately of domed slick rock.

After a calming trek through the expansive meadows, you will once again experience a change of scenery…this time turning in the meadows for wide stretches of pines and oak. During the hot seasons, these grove will feel like a sanctuary from the heat. Not a bad place to take a break. 

The next leg of the trek will once again give your perspective another change though by now you are probably not expecting to stay in the same terrain for long. Once through the pine forest you will start to get your first glimpses of the nearing canyon. A giant, white cliff face in the near distance will be your most telling landmark. The further horizon will look like a series of disconnected ridges, plateaus, and varied rock formations (of various earthy colors). Occasional glimpses of the canyon are broken up by short stretches of meadow and forest.

A decline in the trail will accompany your view of a massive white canyon wall as you make your final approach to the Wildcat Canyon itself. Here is the part of the trail with the most dramatic decline. That being said, the decline is gradual and will not disappoint from here on. Doing this hike in the fall will ensure a colorful view that contrasts well against the canyon’s white walls. Eventually, the trail levels out but not for long. When you reach the bottom of the canyon you will almost immediately begin to trek back up the opposing side. While at the bottom, however, be sure to load up on water at the Wildcat Springs (especially if this is part of a longer hike). The springs are well marked but you may, nevertheless, have some difficulty finding the source - depending on the season.

The ascent up the opposite side of the canyon seemed a bit steeper but I suppose that’s always the case when walking uphill. Like the rest of the hike, the trail remains well marked and clearly visible. Once atop the other side of the canyon, be sure to turn around to catch the view of where you came from, checking out the other side the canyon. Not long after leveling off, the trail will eventually intersect with the West Rim Trail. From here you have three choices: turn around and go back, head north on the West Trim Trail towards the Lava Point trailhead to catch a pick-up car, or continue south along the West Rim Trail if you are backpacking. 

For those backpacking, this is of course a place to hang your hat and call it a night.

Pack List

  • SUNSCREEN (Spring and Summer are HO
  • Water (Sources are scarce or contaminated)
  • Sturdy hiking boots
  • Backpacking Kit (Season Appropriate and Optional)
  • Camera
  • Eagerness
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RT Distance 5.8 Miles
Activities Chillin, Camping, Photography, Running, Backpacking, Hiking, Fitness
Skill Level Beginner
Season Year Round
Trail Type Point-to-Point
Features
Romantic
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Excellent Running

If you are running the Zion Traverse (or Trans-Zion Trek), you'll find the Wildcat section to be one of the most excellent, runnable portions of your entire day. Clearly defined and well maintained, this single track trail winds through some of the least-visited parts of the park.


Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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