Day 3: The Spectacular West Rim

Cabin Spring to the Northgate Peaks Trail
(16.7 miles, +1,500/-1,500 feet).

All the frustration I felt with the crowds in Zion Canyon melted away this morning with the sunrise.  I never knew that the beauty of the main canyon spills over the countryside into countless gorges and landscapes.  And the West Rim Trail puts you way up high where you can see it all.

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Hiking the ridge on the West Rim Trail

We climbed from 6,800 feet up to 7,200 feet where we walked at the top of a ridge that rose above the colorful canyons to both the east and the west.

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Looking west from the West Rim Trail

We then joined up with the Wildcat Canyon Trail, which wound around a wooded landscape and gradually descended until we reached the Northgate Peaks Trail.

A few hundred feet down the trail, we found a wonderful open place to camp where we had a view of the beginning of the trail to “The Subway,” a popular canyoneering hike in Zion.  The trail drops down quickly through exposed sandstone.

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MixMaster at the head of “The Subway” trail

The drop allows views of distant escarpments wrapped in pinyon pines.

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The escarpments above “The Subway” trail

We set up camp, and Mixmaster, Barnfinder, and Art decided to play some cards.  But my feet were still restless, so I wandered down to the end of the Northgate Peaks Trail.

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A flat trail through tall forest on the Northgate Peaks Trail

The trail was flat through a tall forest until the end, where twin peaks guarded the canyon to the south.

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View between the two Northgate Peaks

I got cell reception at the end of the trail, which was nice because Barnfinder’s wife sent me a picture of his mom who had just had surgery and was doing great.  When I got back to camp I shared the picture, and I think he felt a little less worried about her.

In the evening it got a little breezy, which made the inside of my tent a little dusty.  But it was warm enough, and the full moon shone beautifully on the sandstone canyon walls.

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Sunset over the entrance to “The Subway”
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