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Looking at Pocket Mesa from the Wildcat Canyon Trail (Zion National Park) -- © 2023 Joe Braun Photography

An Easy-To-Miss Little Peak:

Located less than a mile northeast of the Wildcat Trailhead, Pocket Mesa is a prominent peak formation in the Kolob Terrace landscape, but it is mostly overlooked and ignored by hikers who are intent on heading to the more famous Subway route or the Northgate Peaks Trail. A visit to the summit of Pocket Mesa involves a few hours of off-trail hiking, navigating through thick manzanita and gambel oak underbrush, and a short Class 2/3 scramble to the top of the mesa. The view from the summit offers good teaser views of various landmarks in the distance, including the Guardian Angels and the Northgate Peaks.

Fairly strenuous rock scrambling
Wildcat Canyon Trailhead (15.5 miles up the Kolob Terrace Road from the town of Virgin)
Time Required:
2-4 hours
1.8 miles (one-way) to the summit of Pocket Mesa
Elevation Change:
580-ft ascent from the base to summit of Pocket Mesa
Spring through fall. Access road to trailhead is not plowed in winter.

WARNING: This is an off-trail scrambling route that requires good navigation skills in remote territory. This route is not recommended for casual tourists with no wilderness or climbing experience.

The Hike up Pocket Mesa:

Starting from the Wildcat Trailhead, hike the trail for roughly half a mile or so and then head north to get a better view of the majestic White Cliff formations of Pocket Mesa. There is no one correct route to take here; it can be an enjoyable experience to wander around the base of the formation as well as explore up the center of the pocket. But if your goal is the summit, your best bet is to head clockwise to the north side of the peak. While the scenery is pleasant, you will have to navigate around and through thick groves of manzanita and gambel oak, gaining elevation along the way.

Once at the north-northwest corner of Pocket Mesa, you should be able to spot a Class 2/3 ramp heading diagonally up to the right. This should be a short and reasonable scramble for most and soon enough, you will be standing on top of the brushy, hilly mesa. Follow a trail-of-use south along the western edge to come to a nice viewpoint looking down at the bare front portion of Pocket Mesa with the beautiful Great West Canyon scenery far in the distance.

A lovely view from the summit of Pocket Mesa (Zion National Park) -- © 2023 Joe Braun Photography

Ideas for Variations:

Grapevine Spring (Left Fork of North Creek) Topo Map

Joe's Spin:

For casual tourists visiting Zion National Park for the first time, this little hike/scramble isn't really one to put on your must-do list. But if you're looking for a fairly reasonable off-trail route that offers a decent view away from the crowds, this is pretty good. Getting your legs shredded by manzanita does lessen the joy a bit though...

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