Zion National Park: Pine Valley Peak

Categories: Hiking, Zion

Zion is so crowded these days that it can take me two hours to get to the Eastern portion of the park, and then there is often no parking anywhere once I get there. So, last summer I spent most of my time hiking around the edges of the park and exploring, among other things, the Kolob Terrace. This was the beginning of a habit i developed that is still ongoing, to explore all the open slickrock areas of the Kolob Terrace.

Wilderness Hiking, Zion, Kolob Terrace, Southern Utah, Desert, American Southwest, Pristine Sandstone, Canyons, Redrock, United States, Secret Places

I climbed over another rise of sandstone and encountered this canyon. That meant turning back around and walking along the backside of the rocks on the left, trying to avoid chaparral and sand gorges.

Wilderness Hiking, Zion, Kolob Terrace, Southern Utah, Desert, American Southwest, Pristine Sandstone, Canyons, Redrock, United States, Secret Places

I climbed over another rise of sandstone and encountered this canyon. That meant turning back around and walking along the backside of the rocks on the left, trying to avoid chaparral and sand gorges.

Temperatures were already getting hot in the valleys because I waited a little bit late in the year to get started. To adjust to the heat my first jaunt was from higher up, where spring was not yet over. Pine Valley Peak is a prominent white pyramid visible from far away in nearly every direction and is very close to the Northgate Peaks trailhead. I decided one day to explore the base of it and see how far beyond it I could get. This little hike ended up being a loop for me. I came out on the road hundreds of feet lower and quite some distance away. Before I even had time to mentally settle in to the long walk back up the road I was offered a ride from a stranger, despite me looking for one.

Wilderness Hiking, Zion, Kolob Terrace, Southern Utah, Desert, American Southwest, Pristine Sandstone, Canyons, Redrock, United States, Secret Places

Wilderness Hiking, Zion, Kolob Terrace, Southern Utah, Desert, American Southwest, Pristine Sandstone, Canyons, Redrock, United States, Secret Places
On the south side of Pine Valley Peak looking at Northgate Peak
Wilderness Hiking, Zion, Kolob Terrace, Southern Utah, Desert, American Southwest, Pristine Sandstone, Canyons, Redrock, United States, Secret Places
The East side of Pine Valley Peak looking NW towards Red Butte.

It took me  along time to get around Pine Valley Peak because there is a deep sand gorge that snakes along the bottom of it. The gorge has near vertical walls overhanging with roots so it must be crossed before it gets to that point. Skirting the gorge means trudging through thick brush and scrambling along crumbling steep ledges.

Wilderness Hiking, Zion, Kolob Terrace, Southern Utah, Desert, American Southwest, Pristine Sandstone, Canyons, Redrock, United States, Secret Places
Looking Southwest past Cave Knoll.
Wilderness Hiking, Zion, Kolob Terrace, Southern Utah, Desert, American Southwest, Pristine Sandstone, Canyons, Redrock, United States, Secret Places
Directly below me was a large sand wash and some sandstone knolls. Below those are the privately owned Lee Valley.
Wilderness Hiking, Zion, Kolob Terrace, Southern Utah, Desert, American Southwest, Pristine Sandstone, Canyons, Redrock, United States, Secret Places
I navigated my way along the sparsely forested rock slopes.
Wilderness Hiking, Zion, Kolob Terrace, Southern Utah, Desert, American Southwest, Pristine Sandstone, Canyons, Redrock, United States, Secret Places
I got back around the rocks i had to circumvent and at the edge of the slope it started looking like i could get down, if I had wanted to.
Wilderness Hiking, Zion, Kolob Terrace, Southern Utah, Desert, American Southwest, Pristine Sandstone, Canyons, Redrock, United States, Secret Places
I had grown tired of fighting all the chaparral in the direction i was trying to go, and with no real signs my efforts would pay off I gave into the temptation to descend into this hidden canyon.
Wilderness Hiking, Zion, Kolob Terrace, Southern Utah, Desert, American Southwest, Pristine Sandstone, Canyons, Redrock, United States, Secret Places
I can always tell I’m on the right track when I find undisturbed piles of perfectly packed moqui marbles.
Wilderness Hiking, Zion, Kolob Terrace, Southern Utah, Desert, American Southwest, Pristine Sandstone, Canyons, Redrock, United States, Secret Places
A split hoodoo. The canyon beyond flows along the bottom of the Peak in the same direction as the split.
Wilderness Hiking, Zion, Kolob Terrace, Southern Utah, Desert, American Southwest, Pristine Sandstone, Canyons, Redrock, United States, Secret Places
From in the bottom of the canyon I spotted a table-like rock feature (upper right) that was far below me when i was on the South slope of Pine Valley Peak.
Wilderness Hiking, Zion, Kolob Terrace, Southern Utah, Desert, American Southwest, Pristine Sandstone, Canyons, Redrock, United States, Secret Places
This broad sand wash seemed oversized considering how short the watershed was for the canyon I dropped into.
Wilderness Hiking, Zion, Kolob Terrace, Southern Utah, Desert, American Southwest, Pristine Sandstone, Canyons, Redrock, United States, Secret Places
The wash continued to broaden until i was walking along the bottom of Pine Valley Peak. The sky finally started to improve from glazed to partly cloudy.
Wilderness Hiking, Zion, Kolob Terrace, Southern Utah, Desert, American Southwest, Pristine Sandstone, Canyons, Redrock, United States, Secret Places

Afterwards looking at the West Temple I decided I should try and find a way to climb up to all the crazy hoodoos on top of this cliff barrier. I did just that, a year later.

Wilderness Hiking, Zion, Kolob Terrace, Southern Utah, Desert, American Southwest, Pristine Sandstone, Canyons, Redrock, United States, Secret Places

Looking back at the West Temple afterwards I decided I really needed to try and find a way to all the wild looking rock landscapes in front of it. A year later, I did just that.

Wilderness Hiking, Zion, Kolob Terrace, Southern Utah, Desert, American Southwest, Pristine Sandstone, Canyons, Redrock, United States, Secret Places
I used the familiar cliffs of “Jobs Head” as a landmark, knowing that direction would bring me to either the road or the Connector Trail.
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