Wildcat Canyon Connector
Description: The Wildcat Canyon Connector Trail is a day hike that takes you from the Hop Valley Trailhead to Lava Point.
Distance: 8.7 Miles
Highest Elevation: 7,720 Feet Above Sea Level
Jurisdiction: Zion National Park
The Trailhead for Wildcat Canyon Connector may be found by following these directions:
From Virgin, Utah, follow Kolob Terrace Road 13 Miles.
Park at Hop Valley Trailhead. This trail will pass the Wildcat Canyon Trailhead and will end up at the Lava Point Trailhead.
This trail runs across the mountain country that lies between the Hop Valley Trailhead and Lava Point, connecting the West Rim Trail with the Hop Valley Trail. Along this route lies a plethora of unmarked canyons with their trails and scenery. Perhaps the most prominent landmark of this particular hike is The Northgate Peaks.
Beginning at the Hop Valley Trailhead, you will head northward to a junction and turn east to follow an old road. When you cross Kolob Terrace Road, you will have an excellent view of Red Butte, Gregory Butte, Timber Top Mountain as well as several other prominent hills such as Spendlove Knoll and Firepit Knoll. A long time ago, the entire area was full of volcanic activity, as is evidenced by the cinder cones that make up both Spendlove Knoll and Firepit Knoll.
The trail will cross the Kolob Terrace Road and enter Lee Valley. From here, you will see some amazing views of Pine Valley Peak, the Northgate Peaks, North Guardian Angel, South Guardian Angel, the Altar of Sacrifice and West Templed. You will eventually cross a dirt road and follow some old cedar posts where the trail is less pronounced and you will cross a fair amount of smalls draws followed by your arrival at Pine Springs Wash, a usually dry wash full of Navajo sandstone and black volcanic boulders. After the trail crosses Pine Valley Wash, you will wind your way around a ridge full of small hoodoos and ascend slickrock, where your trail is marked only by the cairns (purposefully built rock piles) that lie along the way. Once you reach the top of this slope, you will walk across the hillside until you reach a small saddle of an area that lies behind Pine Valley Peak where you will have an extremely clear observation point for North Guardian Angel.
Once you are close to the Northgate Peaks Trail Junction, you will see, to the north, Pocket Mesa, which is a series of whire cliffs. In order to reach the pothole seep that lies below Pocket Mesa, you must turn left at the first trail junction and continue on to a sandy wash. Follow the sandy wash upstream and turn right at the fork in the wash. This will take you to water at the eastern side of Pocket Mesa.
If you wish to go to Lava Point, however, you should continue straight through both trail junctions. The Wildcat Connector Trail will guide you upwards through the forest until a view of Russell Gulch opens up to you with its white cliffs. The trail will head up through Russell Gulch. Following this trail, you will soon have grand views of Zion before heading east into a meadow and then north through the forest and into the waters of Wildcat Canyon. In the fall, especially in October, this area is full of fall colors from the oak, maple and quaking aspen.
From here, the trail will descend around Wildcat Canyon and pass a spring that flows through the lava rocks and dense vegetation. The trail then heads across the wash and takes you to the far side of the canyon and follows a draw to the top of Horse Pasture Plateau. From Horse Pasture Plateau, you will follow the trail to an area just before the West Rim Trail where there is an old grain drill. From this old grain drill, you can clearly see Lava Point. Once you do reach the West Rim Trail, simply turn left onto it and continue a tenth of a mile for a final climb which takes you to Lava Point.