South Guardian Angel
Nestled in the heart of Zion National Park, this sandstone dome is visible from as distant as St. George, 30 miles away. Two domes stand out above the others in the central section of Zion National Park. North Guardian Angel towering to the south of the Wildcat Canyon Trailhead and just across the Left Fork of North Creek, and a bit further south lies the prominent sandstone mountain, South Guardian Angel. Visitors hiking the "Subway" route enjoy grand views of both . South Guardian Angel provides the adventurer with the sense of route-finding and the satisfaction of a true backcountry experience. This is a "desert classic peak", on the Sierra Clubs list of the top one-hundred desert peaks to do.
At a Glance
Northgate Peaks Trail - The hike begins by following the Wildcat Canyon Trail for about 1 mile as it bears eastward through the pine forest. The hiking is quite pleasant and level. The Hop Valley Connector Trail is bypassed on the right after about a half-mile. Continue past this intersection to meet the Subway and Northgate Peaks Trail intersection entering from the right at about 1 mile into the hike. Turn right and follow the path for about a mile, through the trees bypassing the left turn to the Subway.
North Guardian Angel - The trail ends on a basalt buttress overlooking the valley below encompassed by the Northgate Peaks and North Guardian Angel. There is a trail leading southeast through the basalt field that will eventually arrive at the valley below and a sandy bottom wash. Follow the wash southward for a quarter-mile and soon a trail becomes evident on the left side. Pick up the trail as it contours the wash and then steers into the manzanitas to the east. The goal is to arrive at the eastern shoulder of the North Guardian Angel.
Guardian Arch - From the eastern shoulder a slickrock bowl falls away to the east. Drop into the bowl and contour around its head onto the ridge of slickrock to the east of the wash forming below. Once on top of the ridge, travel southward and look for cairns that will indicate the steep path to follow into the Left Fork of North Creek. Be sure to glance to the right occasionally and look for the freestanding arch, Guardian Arch, where the slot canyon deepens to the west.
Left Fork of North Creek - The descent is over a half-mile with nearly 1200' of elevation, and it can be quite steep in sections. No rope will be necessary, but careful travel is a must as the path leads from slickrock, through thick vegetation, and short down-climbs. Arriving at the Subway, is refreshing and is a good place to take on water (purify) for the beginning of the long ascent to South Guardian Angel.
Left Fork Arch - Look directly across from where the trail entered Left Fork and identify the slope and Left Fork Arch, 30' up from the bottom of the drainage. There is a short 15' 4th class boulder problem that leads above the arch and to easier travel. Some may prefer to use a rope belay for those less experienced or unsure here.
Summit of South Guardian Angel- Continue up the steep draw, and follow the wash to the left and over a boulder to arrive at a trail that will switchback and eventually arrive at a ridge top. From the ridge, drop down into the wash below, cross the streambed and ascend the hillside to the southeast. Go up and over the ridge and drop into the wash below on the other side. Now travel southerly (easiest manner possible) following the wash for nearly .75 miles until the end. Don't be lured into a false wash entering from the right at about a half-mile on the way. Now the sandy bottom wash becomes an array of slickrock bowls that need to be negotiated as the route bears west-south-westerly. Keep eyes open as at one point the route will travel up to a small vertical sandstone wall on the right. Follow the ramp to its high point and do a tricky 3rd class up-climb onto the next layer above. From here set sights to the hoodoos above as the terrain will soon begin to ease and the white sandstone of South Guardian Angel will present itself. From the level area around the first hoodoos the ascent is mild until arriving at a second set of hoodoos near the eastern base of the ever steepening sandstone monolith. From a group of ponderosas perched at the eastern base of the slabs the climb becomes steady 3rd ,and low grade 4th class scrambling as the eastern ridge is followed to the summit. Look for the register on the tallest peak, it is buried under some rocks. Be sure to sign it.
GPS Coordinates WGS84 Datum
Wildcat Canyon/ Northgate Peaks
Bottom of Left Fork of North Creek
Top of South Guardian Angel
Left Fork of North Creek
Kolob is the name of the star nearest to where "God" lives.
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Suggested Gear: A sturdy pair of shoes are recommend to hike the trails in Zion National Park. Many quality shoes will help grip the rocks and prevent injury.
Zion National Park, Utah
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It's a better site than the NPS's anyway."
Written by the authors of the book: Favorite Hikes in and around Zion National Park