Hiking Guide Photos 1 2 3

Langston Canyon and Langston MountainTucked away behind a tall sandbar on the eastern side of Hop Valley, Langston Canyon might not even be noticed by those hiking through on the Hop Valley Trail, but this formidable side canyon offers up some beautiful and remote scenery. The hike up Langston Canyon to Langston Mountain is a long and challenging day in the remote backcountry and involves a lot of bushwhacking, steep uphills, boulder-scrambling, and navigation challenges, but the views and solitude just might be worth it!

WARNING: This route is a long and strenuous hike in an isolated corner of Zion's backcountry and involves a fair amount of Class 2/3 scrambling. Route-finding and navigation skills are also essential. This is not a good choice for casual tourists.

The round-trip hike from the Hop Valley Trailhead up Langston Canyon is 18 miles with an elevation gain of roughly 1700 feet from the floor of Hop Valley to the top of Langston Mountain. Allow 10-14 hours for this hike, depending on your speed and endurance. While the summer months will give you more daylight for this hike, early autumn will have more pleasant daytime temperatures. Get an early pre-dawn start to maximize your time for this route.

Hop Valley Trail:

Starting at the Hop Valley Trailhead off of the Kolob Terrace Road, hike the Hop Valley Trail north down into Hop Valley. This section of trail is easy to follow with headlamp, making it ideal for an early start; rip through the miles quickly since this is the easiest part of the hike. (See the Hop Valley Trail description for more detailed trail info.) Roughly 4.25 miles from the trailhead is the mouth of Langston Canyon; it is tucked behind a tall sandbar on the right (east) side of Hop Valley and you might not notice it until you pass the sandbar and see its dry streambed join Hop Valley. If necessary, use a GPS and map to confirm location since there are several other side canyons that could be mistaken for Langston Canyon. (If you see the remains of an old fence at roughly 4 miles, this is your signal that the canyon is near. If you reach the official NPS cattle fence and campsites, you have missed the target.)

Lower section of Langston Canyon:

While the open mouth of Langston Canyon looks fairly benign, things quickly get more interesting as the canyon walls narrow. Make your way up the streambed of the lower canyon as it alternates between fairly easy sections (similar to the terrain in Hidden Canyon) and overgrown sections littered with boulder obstacles. (Many of the smaller boulders require a few simple scrambling moves to get past, but there isn't any major exposure on this hike.) Some of the larger obstacles will require significant detours to get around, often by scrambling up and around a nearby sandy and overgrown slope. Langston Canyon and Langston Mountain After about an hour in Langston, you will come to the base of a dryfall on the left (northwest) side of the canyon. This is the north fork of Langston Canyon and you want get on top of that dryfall. Backtrack down canyon a bit to find a reasonable scrambling route up the sandy overgrown shelves to get to the top of the dryfall.

Upper section of Langston Canyon:

Once you are standing in the north fork at the top of the dryfall, the terrain looks very reminiscent of the sandstone formations in the Upper East Canyon. Now instead of just hiking up the drainage (which will lead to an impassible dryfall), start hiking/scrambling up the sandstone formations to the east of the drainage in order to gain elevation and get on top of the bench between the north fork and the lower east fork. (The scrambling shouldn't be too difficult or exposed.) Once you have the high ground, it's fairly pleasant hiking along the narrow bench until it peters out in a quarter of a mile. When it seems right, head back into the north fork drainage and make a note of the spot for your return hike.
Once back in the drainage, the going is fairly easy for the next mile or so and the scenery is sublime with beautiful slickrock formations and streaked walls. Then the hard part begins; as you reach the head of the narrowing canyon, the ascent gets much steeper with more boulder obstacles and thick vegetation blocking the way. Like in the lower canyon, climb up the easier obstacles and detour/traverse around the ones that are too difficult. Just when you think you can't take any more, the canyon will open up and you'll be free of the overgrown obstacle course.

Langston Mountain:

Langston Canyon and Langston MountainAlmost magically, the scenery changes to open slopes littered with shards of white sandstone. Find a clean line free of gamble oak and manzanita and head due north up the steep hill for 500 feet of leg-burning elevation gain. Soon enough, you will be greeted by a beautiful grove of ponderosa pines at the top of Langston Mountain. Wander around the rim at your leisure; great views are found in every direction, including a unique view of Gregory Butte and the Kolob Arch to the west and the south fork of Beartrap Canyon to the east.

Exit Hike:

Retrace your steps back down the mountain and through Langston Canyon. Remember that if an obstacle looks too difficult to downclimb, you probably traversed around it on the way up. Also keep an eye out for the spot where you leave the drainage for the bench to prevent you from losing time backtracking. Get out of Langston Canyon and Hop Valley before dark!

Langston Canyon and Langston Mountain Map Map #1: Hop Valley Trail
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Langston Canyon and Langston Mountain Map Map #2: Langston Canyon and Langston Mountain route.
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Random Notes:

Joe's Spin:

This is a hike only for die-hard Zion explorers looking for a full day in remote territory. While the scenery in the upper section of Langston Canyon is sublime and the views from Langston Mountain are superb, it takes a lot of hiking, scrambling, and bushwhacking to get to the goods, so I wouldn't recommend it to casual tourists.

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