Overview : Existing behind the skyline of The Watchman, G2 and Bridge Mountain; hidden behind the sandstone ridges of Gifford Canyon, is a no... more »
Existing behind the skyline of The Watchman, G2 and Bridge Mountain; hidden behind the sandstone ridges of Gifford Canyon, is a no... more » man's land of sandstone peaks.
Gifford Peak is a rewarding 1930' foot technical summit hike which allows you to witness the splendor of this section of Zion National Park.
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.
Technical section! This route includes 3, 4 & 5th class sections. "Take the proper equipment, have the right skills and use sound judgment. Be prepared to take care of yourself and your group by resolving any problems that may arise. Rescue is not a certainty. If rescue is possible, it will take hours or days to remove an injured hiker from the backcountry". ** Zion National Park Backcountry Guide.
In my pack:
75' 11mm dynamic rope
75' 6mm static pull rope
Harness, rappel device, 50' webbing, locking carabiner (2), Water: 2 liters**(77 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
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 walk awaits you upon reaching the Plateau. Head West. Looking back over your shoulder to the 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... More the south is a glimpse of Hepworth Peak, to the north is the top of Destination Peak. West is Gifford Peak.
Continue your stroll along the plateau, headed west. Soon you reach a view point where the plateau begins to drop into a wash and a beautiful view of seldom seen parts of Zion National Park open to your view. The massive south face of Destination peak, with West Temple framed between G2 and G3. Bridge Mountain creates an awe inspiring reverence for this part of the park.
Continuing down into the wash between Gifford Peak and the plateau. A small shelf system accented with a pine tree is noted as the entry onto Gifford Peaks north face ridge line.
Remember this entry / exit point. It is easy to miss on the way down.
The ridge line is class 3 Zion scramble. Continue to use the shelf systems, rock weakness and vegetative lines to make the ascent. A game trail is evident and leads into a gully further west on the north face.
Scramble up the wash and around a dead Ponderosa pine tree. The wash narrows into a slice of rock, a class 4 shelf system presents... More itself on the eastern wall. This is the first major obstacle of the ascent. Work up the shelf system and back onto the ridge line again.Less
Moving easy now the class 2 traverse leads around to the east side, and continues on to the south side of Gifford Peak. Beautiful views of the smooth slickrock canyon can be seen between Gifford and Hepworth Peak. Avoid the first line up and continue working around the face toward a gully. The gully rises with a buttress to a saddle. The saddle... More presents the crux for the summit,Less
From the crux the summit is class 2 scramble. I found a glass jar with two entries surrounded by a few rocks at the summit. I replaced some of the rocks and found a nice large flat rock to cover the jar, so you might have to look carefully to find the summit registration. Like most summits in Zion, the views in all directions are spectacular... More! But no other peak shows the rugged beauty of G2, G3 and Bridge Mountain as seen from Gifford Peak.Less