The Wildcat Canyon trail is an easy day hike through relatively flat country with views over Russell Gulch, The North Guardian Angel, the East Northgate Peak, and the Zion Canyons in the distance as well as the beautiful Wildcat Canyon.
The Wildcat canyon trail connects to the West Rim Trail about 1/2 mile beyond the 4 mile point where we turned around and retraced our steps.
Overall rating = moderate
Distance: 8.0 miles return – moderate
Elevation gain: 300 feet up to canyon and 200 feet down to creek: total 500 – moderate
Terrain: Dirt, rocks, sand – easy
Exposure: cliff edge – moderate
To see the trail rating system used here see Trail Rating System
The Kolob Terrace Road is a paved road that winds in and out of Zion National Park on its way to the Kolob Reservoir. Turn north onto this road from SR9 at the sign in Virgin, Utah.
Park at the Wildcat Canyon parking lot which is 15.7 miles from the Virgin turnoff. This parking lot is about 3/4 mile from the sharp switchback turn on the Kolob Road and at the end of a long hill up the mountain face. This portion of the Kolob Road is not plowed in winter.
For a one page printout of the directions click Directions to Wildcat Canyon Trail
The trail is quite flat and open from the trailhead to the Hop Valley trail about 0.9 miles. You then go up a short rocky hill to the Northgate Peaks Trailhead to the right. Continue straight through the pine forest along a dry stream bed.
You will reach Russell Gulch on the right (east) with beautiful views of the Zion Canyons in the distance. The trail follows up along Russell Gulch until it opens into a large meadow.
The trail traverses along the east side of this meadow. At the end of this meadow you reach a slight rise and there is a second smaller meadow which you traverse on the west side.
Once past this second meadow you reach the Wildcat Canyon and travel along and gradually down the west side of the canyon. You get good views of the far side of the canyon at places between the trees and brush on the canyon side. The trail down is fairly wide with brush on the canyon side so is not too scary unless you have an extreme fear of heights.
At the 3.85 mile mark you pass a fresh spring which was running even in this dry fall season.
At the 4 mile mark there is a wide area where you can see back up the length of Wildcat Canyon. This was our lunch stop.
From here the trail drops down, crosses Blue Creek, and then traverses back up the east side of the canyon to join the West Rim Trail.