Overview : Located behind the main Zion canyon skyline of The Watchman, G2 and Bridge Mountain; hidden behind the sandstone ridges of Gifford... more »
Located behind the main Zion canyon skyline of The Watchman, G2 and Bridge Mountain; hidden behind the sandstone ridges of Gifford... more » Canyon, is a no man's land of sandstone peaks. Four beautiful peaks line up in a north to south direction. Destination Peak, Gifford Peak, Hepworth Peak and Roof Peak. These, of course, are the unofficial names. Like most peaks in Zion National Park, the peaks have a number or nickname that have filtered down from peak bagger reports over the years.
A beautiful backcountry loop. This 6 mile class 3 scramble reaches the summit of both Hepworth and Roof peaks before dropping into Gifford Canyon.
GPS track can be downloaded from Other Resources under "Trip Report". 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.
In my pack:
75' 6mm static pull rope (not needed)
50' webbing, locking carabiner (2), (not needed)
Water: 2 liters**(65 degrees F) GPS, Camera, Cell phone, TOPO map, compass, gloves, extra batteries, first aid kit, headlamp, knife, sunscreen, bug spray, matches, light sticks, emergency Bivouac kit.
Lunch & energy snacks
**Full sun hike, carry more water if warmer temperature exists.
Good shoes for slickrock scrambling.
Permit: NOT required less «
Heading east on hwy-9 immediately as you emerge from the long 1.1 mile Zion Tunnel is a small parking lot and restroom facility on the right hand side. This is the parking lot for the Zion Overlook trail and also holds the only restroom facilities on this side of the park. If this parking lot is full, use the overflow parking lot further down the ... Moreroad (200' feet) and walk back.
Standing in the small parking lot (next to the restroom) look up Pine Creek and locate the dryfall entering Pine Creek from the South, this is Gifford Canyon and the direction of travel.
Alongside the bridge is an established trail that will drop you down into Pine Creek. Turn left upon entering the slot canyon creek bed and hike the short 75 feet or so to the dry fall. Negotiate the dryfall by following the well beaten path on the left side, over steep but manageable slickrock until you are standing in Gifford Canyon creek bottom above the dryfall.Less
Walk along Gifford Canyon until you find a very large sandy area below a massive dryfall that enters the canyon from a shear drop off on the East side (about 3/4 mile). Walk toward the solid red sandstone wall and continue up the creek bed (note: there is a wash that enters on your right hand side, at this sandy area, avoid this wash and stay with... More the main drainage). After negotiating a small dryfall, look for a wash that enters Gifford Canyon on your right, best noted by a large pine tree that splits Gifford Canyon to the left and the wash to your right. There are a couple of slickrock dryfalls also on the right but you are looking for an actual wash as noted above.Less
Hiking up this new wash for a short distance you will be greeted with a buttress wall about 30 feet high. Continue to follow the stream bed until you emerge onto a hillside of slickrock. Sparse trees and bushes dot the hillside. Toward the skyline to your right is a very prominent cliff and to your left is a series of cliff faces with pine trees... More lining the ridges. Work your way up the hillside staying toward the right side as the sandstone is less steep. Eventually turn to your left and aim for the now sizable cliff face with pine trees on top.Less
Continue to work your way higher until you reach the cliff and shelf system on the South side of the hillside. If you have really good eyes, you can spot a very large solid white boulder sitting on the red slickrock near a pine tree. This serves as an entry marker for the shelf system scramble. From here look for the wash running off to your left,... More hiking up this sand, stone strewn wash is the direction of travel.
A well beaten game trail leads to a 25' foot cliff face. There is a lot of animal activity in the area from the amount of droppings and tracks which make trail identification easier.
This portion of the hike is class 3 scramble. The scramble ends by topping out onto a high point next to a large pine tree. A cairn greets you at this junction and lets you know your on the right track. Continue right through the wash, up and over another small cliff band until you reach the large (very large) sandstone bowl.Less
Upon entering the sandstone bowl avoid the temptation of hiking down into the bowl. Instead work your way along the inside rim, where the red sandstone meets the white rock creating a nice walkway. Once inside the bowl pick the easiest route to the top. The closer you are to the path the water takes the easier it will be to climb up and out (about... More 1/2 way around the bowl).Less
Cryptobiotic crust can be found in this area, it is a dark, crusty-looking soil. Please do not step on it, it is alive and is a very important ecological base for desert environments.
A nice class 2 walk awaits you upon reaching the Plateau. Head south. Looking east you will see Twin Hoodoo Peak on your Right and Peak 6310 on your left (These are sometimes identified as Jenny Peak and Jenny's nipples). Only 1/4 mile separates the two peaks. The saddle between the two is part of the Parunuweap Pass hike. To the south is a... More glimpse of Hepworth Peak, to the north is the top of Destination Peak. West is Gifford Peak.
Continue your stroll along the plateau, headed south.
Stay higher on the sandy hillside near the rock outcropping for easier travel and to avoid having to climb back up the sandy terrain. Beautiful views of the ever changing east face of Gifford Peak. A stunning view through the East / West canyon that separates Gifford Peak from Hepworth Peak frames G2 & G3 with West Temple in the Background.Less
Soon a saddle is reached at the base of Hepworth Peak. Step around onto the small ledge for beautiful views into the large sandstone bowl that marks the massive East / West drainage between the peaks.
To your left is a prominent split in the earth. Backtrack to the head of this split (20 feet). It is possible to hike directly through the split... More (very narrow) or use the ledge systems on the east side to descend into the East / West drainage.Less
Arriving at the large East / West Drainage between the two peaks, again staying on the uphill side makes travel easier. Rounding the corner is a breathtaking view into this massive void of pure slickrock. Punctuated by a large streaked wall with pine trees at the rear. A special note about Zion National Park; anytime you see dark stains down a... More streaked wall in Zion means there is vegetation or a "Hidden Valley" somewhere up the dryfall.Less
Looking north up the slickrock slab to Hepworth Peak exists a noticeable wash and prominent ledge systems. This slickrock slab is a class 3 scramble. Use the ledge systems to work your way toward the middle Hoodoo that is the peak of Hepworth. Beautiful views below looking back toward the sandstone bowl, south to Roof Peak and east toward... More Gifford Canyon can all be seen as elevation is gained.Less
A low rock outcropping is located on the east side before you reach the summit. It is well worth the effort to climb this small Hoodoo for views east and down tracing the route below from off the saddle. Turning west Hepworth Peak is the prominent peak on the north side with a small scrub pine tree near the top. A small cairn marks the spot. ... More No summit registration was found.Less
Dropping off the peak to another Hoodoo is a small saddle that runs north / south. Descend to the west from this saddle. Use caution as the hillside is filled with loose rock and sand. Traverse to the northern ridge line and use the ledge system to drop down to more solid slickrock travel. This ridge line approaches class 4 scramble, but is... More short and plentiful weakness keep it class 3.
It is possible to drop directly south from this point and up the opposite slickrock to Roof Peak. However, continue the westerly traverse until a white capped Hoodoo is spotted at the edge of the sandstone bowl.
Backtrack around the bowl and head to the south. Another nice slickrock slab stretches toward a saddle near a Hoodoo on the skyline. There is considerable amounts of loose rock in this area, although a class 3 scramble proceed with caution. Cryptobiotic crust is also in this area so be careful not to step on it. Damage to this organism can take... More decades to repair.Less
Backtrack once again being mindful of the loose rock and Cryptobiotic crust. Hike through the Ponderosa pine trees until you reach the eastern edge of the saddle. This area is littered with a beautiful deep purple stone I have never seen before in Zion National Park. To the left is a ledge system and fault line that can be used for down... More climbing back into the sandstone bowl.Less
Soon you reach a series of waterfall buttresses that empty the East / West drainage into Gifford Canyon. Standing next to a large Ponderosa pine tree located near the edge, beautiful views up and down Gifford Canyon can be seen. Down climb to the next level then turn north (left) and proceed down the rock ledge next to another buttress. You... More should see directly below you another split in the earth. Head toward the mouth of the split.
The split is 20' - 40' wide and contains a vegetative ramp leading to a lower portion of the buttress dryfall. This portion might be considered class 4 because of some bouldering, but I found the path down and around to still be class 3.Less
A few more feet and another level to the dryfall becomes evident. Also evident is a game trail merging from the right hand side. This is the Parunuweap Pass route coming from the east also headed to the bottom of Gifford Canyon.
Use the ledge systems located on your left to once again down climb to Gifford Canyon stream bed.
Hike down Gifford Canyon until you come to another dryfall. Moving closer to the dryfall and looking to the left, you'll see a trail leading through the trees. This trail is steep and loose dirt footing, use the trees to catch your balance and in about 50 feet you arrive at the canyon floor once again.
Continue hiking down canyon until another dryfall is reached. Once again, stay on the left side (West) and work your way higher toward the pine trees which allow for weaknesses. Carefully use the weaknesses and ledge systems to work your way down this large slickrock slab. Caution loose rock.
A few more feet and the familiar pine tree wash is present. With the loop complete continue to hike down Gifford Canyon and back to your awaiting vehicle.