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East Zion, Utah, United States

G2 - Zion National Park

A full day of Zion backcountry adventure to the Summit of G2.

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Difficulty: Difficult
Length: 9.7 miles / 15.6 km
Duration: Full day
Overview: The most memorizing view, for first time visitors, of Zion National Park is waiting for the shuttle system bus and looking up! Directly east of the visitor center is the shear sandstone face of G2 connected to Bridge Mountain on the north by a small saddle. This difficult, full day (12 hour), adventure through the backcountry of Zion National Park arriving at the summit of G2 is an adventure not likely to be forgotten.

GPS track can be downloaded from Other Resources under "Trip Report".

Tips: Backcountry Route! Safely hiking backcountry routes depend on your own good judgment, adequate preparation, and constant attention to your surroundings. Your safety is your responsibility.

Full day hike. Plan on 10 - 12 hours.

In my pack:
75' 6mm static pull rope
25' webbing, locking carabiner (3), ascender, rapid release (2), repelling device, GPS, Camera, Cell phone, TOPO map, compass, gloves, extra batteries, extra socks (2), first aid kit, headlamp, knife, sunscreen, bug spray, matches, light sticks, emergency Bivouac kit.

Carried but didn't need:
75' 11mm rope, harness, nuts

Lunch & lots of energy snacks
Water: 3 liters**(77 degrees F)
**4 liters minimum on warmer day, water exists in Hepworth valley, but it is stagnate horrible looking stuff. Filter and chemicals might make it drinkable in an emergency. Stash at least 1 liter for the hike out.
Good shoes for slickrock scrambling.
Permit: NOT required

Points of Interest


Parking and Trailhead

Heading east on hwy-9 immediately as you emerge from the long 1.1 mile Zion Tunnel is a small parking lot and restroom facility on the right hand side. This is the parking lot for the Zion Overlook trail and also holds the only restroom facilities on this side of the park. If this parking lot is full, use the overflow parking lot further down the road (200' feet) and walk back.

Standing in the small parking lot (next to the restroom) look up Pine Creek and locate the dryfall entering Pine Creek from the South, this is Gifford Canyon and the direction of travel.

Alongside the bridge is an established trail that will drop you down into Pine Creek. Turn left upon entering the slot canyon creek bed and hike the short 75 feet or so to the dry fall. Negotiate the dryfall by following the well beaten path on the left side, over steep but manageable slickrock until you are standing in Gifford Canyon creek bottom above the dryfall.

Hiking Gifford Canyon

Gifford Canyon is a common hiking area for people interested in a little more than an established trail. The wash is wide, with nice slickrock falls and fallen trees.

Dryfall and Exit from Gifford Canyon

Walk along Gifford Canyon until you find a very large sandy area below a massive dryfall that enters the canyon from a shear drop off on the East side (about 3/4 mile). Walk toward the solid red sandstone wall and continue up the creek bed (note: there is a wash that enters on your right hand side, at this sandy area, avoid this wash and stay with the main drainage). After negotiating a small dryfall, look for a wash that enters Gifford Canyon on your right, best noted by a large pine tree that splits Gifford Canyon to the left and the wash to your right. There are a couple of slickrock dryfalls also on the right but you are looking for an actual wash as noted above.

Exit from Gifford Canyon

Hiking up this new wash for a short distance you will be greeted with a buttress wall about 30 feet high. Continue to follow the stream bed until you emerge onto a hillside of slickrock. Sparse trees and bushes dot the hillside. Toward the skyline to your right is a very prominent cliff and to your left is a series of cliff faces with pine trees lining the ridges. Work your way up the hillside staying toward the right side as the sandstone is less steep. Eventually turn to your left and aim for the now sizable cliff face with pine trees on top.

Shelf System Scramble

Continue to work your way higher until you reach the cliff and shelf system on the South side of the hillside. If you have really good eyes, you can spot a very large solid white boulder sitting on the red slickrock near a pine tree. This serves as an entry marker for the shelf system scramble. From here look for the wash running down from above you on your right, hiking up this sand, stone strewn wash is the direction of travel.

A well beaten game trail leads to a 25' foot cliff face. There is a lot of animal activity in the area from the amount of droppings and tracks which make trail identification easier.

This portion of the hike is class 3 scramble. The scramble ends by topping out onto a high point next to a large pine tree. A cairn greets you at this junction and lets you know your on the right track. Continue right through the wash, up and over another small cliff band until you reach the large (very large) sandstone bowl.

Sandstone Bowl

Upon entering the sandstone bowl avoid the temptation of hiking down into the bowl. Instead work your way along the inside rim, where the red sandstone meets the white rock creating a nice walkway. Once inside the bowl pick the easiest route to the top. The closer you are to the path the water takes the easier it will be to climb up and out (about 1/2 way around the bowl).

Cryptobiotic crust

Cryptobiotic crust can be found in this area, it is a dark, crusty-looking soil. Please do not step on it, it is alive and is a very important ecological base for desert environments.
Other Resources


A nice walk awaits you upon reaching the Plateau. Head North-northwest. Looking back over your shoulder to the east you will see Twin Hoodoo Peak on your Right and Peak 6310 on your left (These are sometimes identified as Jenny Peak and Jenny's nipples). Only 1/4 mile separates the two peaks. The saddle between the two is part of the Parunuweap Pass hike. To the south is a glimpse of Hepworth Peak, to the north is the top of Destination Peak. West is Gifford Peak.

Continue your stroll along the plateau, headed north, northwest toward Destination Peak. Soon you reach a view point where the plateau begins to drop into a wash and a beautiful view of seldom seen parts of Zion National Park open to your view. The massive south face of Destination peak, with West Temple framed between G2 and G3. Bridge Mountain creates an awe inspiring reverence for this part of the park.

This massive East/West canyon framing G2 will be the means of travel between Gifford and Destination Peaks.

East / West wash and Fan shaped Buttress

Continuing north-northwest follow one of the fault lines dropping from the plateau to the wash below. Use caution on the steep slickrock. Plenty of weakness and shelf systems allow for decent to the sandy wash below.

Looking at the large buttress that runs from top to bottom on Destination Peak, allow your eyes to move from the bottom of the buttress to the west. A distinctive fan shaped buttress can be seen. This is the direction of travel. Travel through the several wash levels to arrive at the base of the fan shaped buttress. Step to the south side of the buttress for impressive views into the East / West canyon.

Destination Peak Ramp

From the fan shaped buttress, about halfway along the wall and look at the ledge system. You need to work the weakness in the face and arrive at the top to begin your descent into the East / West canyon.

The ledge systems provide ample footing, and the solid bushes on the left side allow for firm grip and good foot holds. The view from the top into the East-West canyon present an excellent reason to rest and take in some nourishment before starting your descent.

Note: There is also a good fault line moving north from this same point in front of the fan shaped buttress which provides another route to the top.

Move north along the ridge until a tree and obvious trail turns west and onto the slickrock ramp. The ramp runs north and south. North to the prominent "V" shape to ascend Destination Peak and south to the bottom of the East / West canyon below the large dryfall.

Note the several large cairns on your decent to the canyon floor. These will serve as a reminder to exit the long ramp on your return trip.

Stay on hikers left during decent, using the many shelf systems, trees, and bushes to allow for weakness in the slickrock.

Hiking the East / West Canyon

The East / West canyon is a pleasant hiking experience. Not a slot canyon, it becomes narrow for a short distance, but no technical use of ropes or rappelling gear necessary. Most of the hike is a wide sandy / slickrock class 1 stroll.

The Vortex

The north face of Gifford Peak contains massive slashes that run the length of the mountain. The Vortex is an opportunity to enter one of these slashes. Somewhat hidden, but easy to find if you are looking, the Vortex is a shear, narrow, canyon of smooth vertical rock. Cool and pleasant even in the heat of summer, this sandy side trip is worth the time to see.

Hepworth Wash

Upon exiting the East / West canyon, turn north following Hepworth wash. This large wide wash is easy hiking. Negotiate several easy dryfalls during this class 1 stroll.

Hepworth Arch

Tucked back against Destination Peak is Hepworth Arch. Easily seen and noted, from the large wash drainage on the hikers right, this blind arch is beautiful on the return trip as the setting sun lights up the surrounding red rock peaks and heightens the colors.

Hepworth Marsh

As Hepworth wash widens and slows, large grass and reed areas produce a marsh effect. Pools of stagnant water reside in the area, but should only be used with filtration and probably chemical cleaning. Use caution if hiking through the marsh. I noted several deep holes, covered with weeds, that would cause ankle problems if stepped into by accident.

Bridge Mountain Wash

Looming large and to the west is Bridge Mountain. Follow the wash that enters Hepworth wash marshlands from the west toward the base of this beautiful landmark of the main Zion canyon.

Bridge Mountain Summit Ramp

A dead, fallen, and burned tree marks the summit ramp for Bridge Mountain. I used the shade and flat rocks to rest, eat lunch and stash a liter of iced water among the sandstone rocks and small trickle of water for the return trip.

Bridge Mountain / G2 Saddle

Continue hiking up the Bridge Mountain wash toward the saddle. To the hikers left is a bush covered hillside, follow one of the game trails up the steep sandy slope to the base of G3 cliff face for easier hiking. The saddle is loose sand and rock, hiking poles help make the climb easier with more stability and the use of upper body strength to aid in the assent.

G2 Scramble & Crux

The scramble up G2 is class 3. Use the plentiful ledge systems and weakness to move higher. A singular cliff band runs the width of G2 and squeezes the assent to a couple of crux points along the way. The crux is a slab of slickrock 35' x 15', just steep enough for feet to slide with regularity. Good finger holds on the left hand side, lead to a finger crack about 3/4 the way, allowing lateral movement to better footing. A nice tree allows for belay or rappel on decent.

Summit of G2

Above the crux the hillside turns to sand and soft footing. Steep, but still class 2, the west side of the summit holds a view of the mini arch before making the final push. The summit is obtained by moving to the north side below the summit and working through a ledge system clogged with bushes. Once on the ridgeline, move east to the summit and the registration cairn.

The views are spectacular from this high vantage point. Most stunning are the 4 distinct box peaks of Destination, Gifford, Hepworth and Roof. Views into Parunuweap, the Watchman, townships of Springdale and Rockville. West Temple and the main canyon of Zions are all a wonder to behold. Spend ample time to soak it all in, but be mindful of the return trip timetable.
Pictures in this guide taken by: steve625
This difficult full day adventure through the heart of Zion backcountry is an adventure not likely to be forgotten
Visited on Apr 27, 2012

by steve625 on Jun 29, 2012

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