|WILDCAT CANYON TRAIL (Lava Point Trail)|
|TRAIL INFORMATION||VIEW PHOTOS!|
The Wildcat Canyon Trail is a 6-mile stretch of trail that connects the Wildcat Canyon Trailhead with the West Rim Trail (just under Lava Point) and is part of the Trans-Zion Trek that allows backpackers to hike from the Kolob section all the way down to the main canyon. The Wildcat Canyon Trail is also the starting point for some of the area's highlights: the Northgate Peaks Trail, the Left Fork of North Creek (the Subway), and the Right Fork. While not considered a "destination hike," this trail wanders through some very beautiful scenery.
Most people see only a short part of the Wildcat Canyon Trail as they start the ever so popular Subway canyoneering route or the Northgate Peaks Trail. For those looking for a pleasant meandering hike that gets away from the crowds, the Wildcat Canyon Trail is worthy of more attention.
The Wildcat Canyon Trail is a very well-defined and easy-to-follow trail with gradual elevation changes that make for a pleasant stroll. Starting at the Wildcat Canyon Trailhead, follow the trail roughly 1.2 miles to the intersection with the Connector Trail. Turn left (northeast) and .2 miles later is the Northgate Peaks Trail. This entire area is a beautiful dark pine forest with large rock formations like Pocket Mesa and Pine Valley Peak standing majestically in the distance.
Once past the Northgate Peaks spur, the trail continues northeast out of Russell Gulch and above the forested area. Be sure to look to the south for a good teaser view of the Great West Canyon. Soon after, we enter a wonderful open meadow that is speckled with wildflowers during the summer months. This section of trail is not visited by very many people. After about a mile, the mood changes again and heads through another short stretch of forest to hug the western rim of Wildcat Canyon. The gamble oak is fairly overgrown here, but there are several areas where it relents and allows for relatively unobstructed views of the impressive White Cliff formations.
The trail descends slowly to loop around and cross over the dry streambed of Wildcat Canyon. Roughly a 1/4 mile west of the crossover is a small unnamed spring that provides easy access to water right along the trail. Look up to see the stark lava rock formations and Lava Point high up in the distance. Once past the streambed crossover, the trail loops around and starts its final ascent to join up with the West Rim Trail. Turn around or continue along your trek!
|Wildcat Canyon Trail Map.
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Driving to the Trailheads:
To get to either the Wildcat Canyon Trailhead or Lava Point from Springdale, drive west to the town of Virgin, then turn north on the Kolob Terrace Road. It is roughly a 16-mile drive up the Kolob Terrace Road to the Wildcat Canyon Trailhead (located after a sharp switchback in the road and a steep uphill). It's 3 miles more (roughly 19 miles total) to the turnoff for Lava Point. The final stretch to Lava Point is a dirt road, but it is accessible by non-4WD vehicles. If you are hiking one-way and don't want to spot your car, many outfitters in Springdale offer shuttle services for a fee. If planning your trip for early Spring, check conditions at the Backcountry Desk as the Kolob Terrace Road often gets closed for Winter due to snow.
This is not a destination hike and there is no majestic viewpoint or goal to the hike, but it still makes a wonderful little day hike! If you're looking to get away from the crowds and take a fairly easy stroll through the backcountry, this would be a good one. I really enjoy seeing scenery that is a bit atypical for what people expect to see in Zion!