Wildcat Canyon Trail, Wildcat Canyon Trailhead, Zion National Park, Utah
Wildcat Canyon Trail - 11.8 miles
Wildcat Canyon Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||11.8 miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||6,985' - 7,455' (7,455' max elevation)|
|Elevation Change:||+470' net elevation gain (+865' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
Wildcat Canyon Trail - 11.8 Miles Round-Trip
The Wildcat Canyon Trail spans the eastern edge of Kolob Terrace, a vast plateau chiseled by deep canyons and dotted with tall mesas. While the trailhead is busy with those heading to Northgate Peaks, Hop Valley and The Subway, few hike on to its terminus at Lava Point.
This lightly used trail features biological diversity, undisturbed backcountry camping with perennial water sources and year-round utility:
The trail heads east across an open plateau below Pine Valley Peak (7,415') to the Hop Valley (.9 miles : 6,926') and Northgate Peaks split (1.05 miles : 6,935'). The Wildcat Canyon Trail bends NE into uniform pine stands that shelter deer, elk, turkey rabbit and mountain lion.
The trail rises steadily through a nondescript forest with only a glimpse of Russell Gulch and Northgate Peaks (1.8 miles : 7,060'). Grades steepen up rockier terrain to the edge of a long, slender meadow (2.4 miles : 7,225'), across which the trail runs easily for nearly a mile. Look for deer and elk, which are drawn to the meadow's grasses and small hollows.
The trail emerges suddenly from the meadow just below the west rim of Wildcat Canyon (3.25 miles : 7,265'), trending downhill for the next .9 miles.
Views open across the canyon with some steep drop-offs and potential rockslides along the way. Dark boulders strewn about the upper slopes are basaltic rock, remnants of lava that seeped from rifts and small cones that formed when the earth's crust thinned and stretched 1.5 M - 200,000 years ago. The original lava flows were several miles long and hundreds of feet thick.
The trail dips by an aspen stand (3.75 miles : 7,200') to Wildcat Spring (3.85 miles : 7,180'), then bends northeast around the tapered upper-canyon with good views back south.
You'll reach the canyon head (4.25 miles : 7,050') and cross Blue Creek on a shoddy log bridge; once over the trail curls sharply south and begins a winding climb away from the canyon rim. A more inclusive ecosystem of yucca, cacti, manzanita, juniper, ponderosa, fir and spruce fill this transition to higher elevations.
Travel eases on a sloping plateau (5.25 miles : 7,265') to the West Rim Trail (5.8 miles : 7,410') and Wildcat Canyon terminus at the West Rim Trailhead (5.9 miles : 7,455').
Interactive GPS Topo MapKey GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84
- N37 20.451 W113 04.552 — 0.0 miles : Wildcat Canyon Trailhead
- N37 20.528 W113 04.037 — .55 miles : Travel through open plateau
- N37 20.416 W113 03.611 — 1.05 miles : Northgate Peaks Trail junction
- N37 21.491 W113 02.390 — 3.0 miles : passing through meadow
- N37 22.207 W113 02.297 — 3.85 miles : Wildcat Spring
- N37 22.413 W113 02.051 — 4.25 miles : Cross Blue Creek and begin climb
- N37 22.195 W113 01.949 — 4.7 mile mark
- N37 22.514 W113 01.679 — 5.25 miles : Begin leveling out on high plateau
- N37 22.833 W113 01.344 — 5.85 miles : West Rim Trail junction
- N37 22.891 W113 01.380 — 5.9 miles : West Rim Trailhead
- The best times of year to hike the Wildcat Canyon Trail are late May and early October, when spring blooms and autumn colors peak, respectively. Consider this trail during peak summer months when temperatures soar and crowds swell in the Zion Canyon area.
- Albeit rocky in places, the Wildcat Canyon Trail is well-suited for trail running. Heed Park warnings regarding mountain lions and avoid running alone and at dusk or dawn.
- Mild grades make this an ideal trail for winter activities. Exercise extreme caution along canyon rims.
- The Wildcat Canyon Trail is part of the Trans-Zion Trekking Route, which runs 47 miles from the Lee Pass Trailhead in Kolob Canyons to the Park's southeast entrance at the East Rim Trailhead.
Camping and Backpacking Information
Permits are required for all overnight backpacking trips in Zion National Park. This includes climbing bivouacs, all thru-hikes of the Virgin River Narrows and tributaries, any trip into the Left Fork of North Creek (the Subway), and all canyons requiring the use of descending gear or ropes.
Permits are available at both Visitor Centers the day of or day before your trip. Permits are limited.
- $15: 1-2 people
- $20: 3-7 people
- $25: 8-12 people
Permits may also be reserved up to 3 months in advance through the online reservation system. A $5 non-refundable fee + an additional fee determined by the size of your group is required when using the online reservation system. Click here to reserve.
- Camp only in designated sites.
- Fires are not permitted at backcountry campsites or within the backcountry in Zion National Park.
- Desert water sources are scarce and fragile. Do not bathe or wash dishes in creeks or pools.
While there are no established backcountry campsites on the Wildcat Canyon Trail, a permit is still required for at-large backcountry camping in this area.
Backcountry Water Sources
- Wildcat Springs is located 3.85 miles from Wildcat Canyon Trailhead. The spring is adjacent to the trail as you descend toward the bottom of Wildcat Canyon. This spring is well marked and typically flows year round. All water should be treated before consumption.
Blue Creek (fed by Blue Springs Reservoir)
- Blue Creek is another generally perrenial water source located 4.25 miles from the Wildcat Canyon Trailhead. All water should be treated before consumption.
Rules and Regulations
- There's a $30 fee per vehicle to enter Zion National Park (defined as private passenger cars with 15 people or less). Passes are good for 7 consecutive days.
- $25 per motorcycle.
- $15 per person (walk or bike).
- Dogs are not permitted on trails in Zion National Park.
Directions to Trailhead
The Wildcat Canyon Trailhead is located on the east side of Kolob Terrace Road, 15.8 miles north of the turn-off from Highway 9 in the town of Virgin, Utah.
Zion Canyon Visitor Center
Closed: December 25
Spring: 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Summer: 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Fall: 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Winter: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Kolob Canyon Visitor Center
Closed: December 25
Spring: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Summer: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Fall: 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Winter: 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.