Gifford Peak Trail

HARD 1 reviews
#55 of 76 trails in

Gifford Peak Trail is a 5.2 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Springdale, Utah that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding and is accessible year-round.

5.2 miles
2299 feet
Out & Back



nature trips



wild flowers


  • 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.
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  • 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.
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  • Dryfall and exit from Gifford Canyon Junction
    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.
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  • 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.
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  • 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 off to your left, 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.
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  • 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).
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  • 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.
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  • Plateau
    A nice walk awaits you upon reaching the Plateau. Head West. 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 west. 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.
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  • Entrance to Gifford Ridge Line
    Continuing down into the wash between Gifford Peak and the plateau. A small shelf system accented with a pine tree is noted as the entry onto Gifford Peaks north face ridge line. Remember this entry / exit point. It is easy to miss on the way down.
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  • North Face Ridge Line
    The ridge line is class 3 Zion scramble. Continue to use the shelf systems, rock weakness and vegetative lines to make the ascent. A game trail is evident and leads into a gully further west on the north face. Scramble up the wash and around a dead Ponderosa pine tree. The wash narrows into a slice of rock, a class 4 shelf system presents itself on the eastern wall. This is the first major obstacle of the ascent. Work up the shelf system and back onto the ridge line again.
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  • East to South side traverse
    Moving easy now the class 2 traverse leads around to the east side, and continues on to the south side of Gifford Peak. Beautiful views of the smooth slickrock canyon can be seen between Gifford and Hepworth Peak. Avoid the first line up and continue working around the face toward a gully. The gully rises with a buttress to a saddle. The saddle presents the crux for the summit,
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  • Crux
    The crux is a 30' foot class 5.2 face with a dead log leaning against it. Protection would be difficult to place and the holds are good and evenly spaced, I found it convenient to free this section and rappel from a strong bush on the descent.
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  • Summit of Gifford Peak
    From the crux the summit is class 2 scramble. I found a glass jar with two entries surrounded by a few rocks at the summit. I replaced some of the rocks and found a nice large flat rock to cover the jar, so you might have to look carefully to find the summit registration. Like most summits in Zion, the views in all directions are spectacular! But no other peak shows the rugged beauty of G2, G3 and Bridge Mountain as seen from Gifford Peak.
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Friday, March 16, 2012

I absolutely love this series of hidden peaks! Not to easy nor to difficult to summit they open your eyes to a portion of Zion National Park few will ever see.