If you’re looking for an easy hike in Zion National Park Utah with epic views and great scenery, try Northgate Peak Trail at the Wildcat Canyon Trailhead.
As part of our epic Southwest road trip through Utah and Arizona, Pat and I spent a day exploring Zion National Park. Because our trip was last minute, we didn’t have time to organize a hiking permit like you need for many of the most epic Zion hikes like The Narrows.
Also, if I’m being completely honest, I’m not terribly fond of heights. While Pat is an adrenaline seeker, I’m what I like to call “risk-phobic”. I don’t have a phobia of heights per say, I really don’t like to put myself in risky situations in general. I’m a bird in the hand kind of girl.
One of the most well-known hikes in Zion National Park is Angel’s Landing. It’s known for its steep switchbacks and sheer drops. You literally cling to a chain bolted to the side of a cliff for portions of the hike. In fact, when you search for ‘Angel’s Landing’, the first thing that Google suggests is, “Angel’s Landing Deaths.”
I really wanted a hike that would be less perilous but still give us great views and, and get us away from the hoards of tourists that flock to the park.
I’m sure you’re thinking that’s a tall ask for a day trip to a park with no planning.
*all photos to this point taken on the drive to the Wildcat Canyon Trailhead in Zion National Park. The landscape is stunning even outside the park!
Northgate Peaks Trail in Zion National Park
Luckily we found the perfect hike.
We hiked Zion National Park’s Northgate Peaks trail. It’s a gentle completely flat hike that’s perfect for any hiking ability. You don’t even need hiking shoes – sneakers are more than fine. The trail is wide and well-maintained. It’s about 4 miles round-trip to get to the end of the trail and back.Northgate Peaks trail starts through a beautiful forest of Ponderosa Pine trees. There’s enough greenery you might forget you’re in the desert for a little while.
As you wind along, the trees thin and the landscape starts to change.
At the end of the trail, you’ll be awarded with spectacular views of Northgate Peaks East, West and The North Guardian Angel. It’s absolutely breathtaking.
It wasn’t touristy at all either. When we did the hike the second week of September, we only saw 5 other people during the entire two-hour hike. It would be a great hike to do with kids or if you’re looking to take it easy. Or, if you’re like me and you don’t want the risk of death hanging over you when you’re on vacation.
We actually loved it so much we ended up going for a run and doing the same trail a second time. If you’re looking for a safe trail to go for a run in Zion National Park, Northgate Peaks is it!
Northgate Peaks Trail Location in Zion
To access the Northgate Peaks trail, park your car at the Wildcat Canyon Trailhead on the east side of the park. It’s about 15 miles north on Kolob Terrace Road from the town of Virgin, Utah.
The Northgate Peaks Trail is also a great choice in the summer, as the higher elevation and shade from the Ponderosa Pine trees means slightly cooler temperatures.
P.S. – Wondering about Pat’s backpack in these photos? It’s the Filson Field Pack and it was definitely our hiking MVP for the trip. It’s super sturdy, super comfortable and has a ton of space.
Need more southwest road trip inspiration? Check out my 4×4 camping post from the trip!