|EAST AND WEST NORTHGATE PEAKS (peak scramble)|
|ROUTE INFORMATION||VIEW PHOTOS!|
The family-friendly Northgate Peaks Trail ends at a viewpoint that overlooks the Great West Canyon (the Left Fork of North Creek) and offers great views of the nearby peaks, most notably the majestic North Guardian Angel in the distance to the south and the closer Northgate Peaks to the east and west. The scramble to the top of both Northgate Peaks is a good little half-day adventure for those with slickrock-scrambling experience and a tolerance for exposure to heights.
East Northgate Peak (Class 2 Scramble):
This is the easier peak of the two. From the Northgate Peaks Trail viewpoint, carefully hike down the lava rocks to the east of the viewpoint into the small valley below. Head east to the slickrock base of the East Northgate Peak. (There may be a faint trail of use.) Now it's time to do a little work! Head south up the fairly steep slickrock formations, following the easiest route you can find. While this route may be intimidating for some, there should be no technically difficult obstacles or dangerously exposed sections to overcome.
Soon enough, you will enter a vegetated section with a trail of use that leads you all the way to the top. Before you realize it, you will be standing on top of the peak with a great view of Russell Gulch, the Left Fork, and the Guardian Angels to the south. Enjoy the view and return the way you came. (The peak is roughly 250 feet higher than the base.)
West Northgate Peak (Class 3 Scramble):
WARNING: While the East NGP is a fairly easy hike, the West NGP should be taken more seriously. The route described here is not a technical climb, but this scramble has a fair amount of exposure and should not be attempted by those with a fear of heights or those who have no slickrock scrambling experience; a mistake here could have serious consequences.
West Northgate Peak is steeper and taller than East NGP and it is roughly 500 feet of vertical from the base to the top. The easiest non-climbing route is from the north side. (If you are coming from the East NGP, walk around the valley below the Northgate Peaks Trail to make your way to the base of the West NGP -- the bushwhacking isn't that bad.) From the north base of West NGP, start hiking right up the spine of the massive slickrock formation, looking for cracks and shelves to follow.
The going is easy at first, but the higher you get, the steeper and more intimidating the angle becomes and you will be using your hands often for support. Use the fault lines and rock shelves to zig-zag your way up the mountain. The crux of the scramble is near the top of this initial section--a short steeper band of loose rock and sand that could be quite imposing to non-climbers. Beyond this point, the route levels out and there is one final easy hump to hike up to get to a great viewpoint facing the North Guardian Angel. Enjoy the view and return the way you came.
These two short scrambles are a great way to spend a day and offer magnificent views of the amazing rock formations of the Great West Canyon. For many people, the East Northgate Peak would be a great add-on to the Northgate Peaks Trail hike, but non-climbers should consider the West Northgate Peak more cautiously. If you start any of these routes and feel beyond your comfort level, by all means turn around.