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Pine Creek Canyon, UT

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Guide 14 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List UT > Southwest
4.3 of 5 by 3
Canyons are inherently risky. Flash floods occur without notice on sunny days. Technical skills & surrounding topography knowledge required yet does not eliminate risk.
View 10
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Difficulty 1.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Shuttle 1.3 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,120 feet
Elevation Gain -700 feet
Accumulated Gain 100 feet
Avg Time Hiking 2-8 hrs
Kokopelli Seeds 1.63
Interest Off Trail Hiking, Seasonal Waterfall & Seasonal Creek
Backpack No
Dogs not allowed
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
1  2016-05-14 autumnstars
3  2014-07-28 cactuscat
34  2011-09-05 Vaporman
45  2011-05-08 Vaporman
26  2010-07-27 Vaporman
Author nonot
author avatar Guides 93
Routes 236
Photos 1,969
Trips 476 map ( 4,511 miles )
Age Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   May, Jun, Jul, Aug → 9 AM
Seasons   Early Spring to Late Autumn
Sun  6:15am - 6:37pm
0 Alternative
Smell that pine-fresh scent!
by nonot

Overview: A short technical canyon in the heart of Zion National Park.

Warning: Canyoneering involve hiking through slot canyons. Always check the weather before your trip and do not go if there is any chance of rain.

For this technical trip, ensure you take appropriate gear, which will include a helmet, harness, rappelling device, wetsuit, 200 ft rope, safety leashes, and adequate footwear for hiking and swimming.

Be warned that during the middle of the day the canyon will be crowded and long waits will be encountered. Unfortunately for you if you're cold and wet you will get colder, possibly too cold with insufficient wetsuit plan ahead!

This canyon is usually full of floating vegetation mats and debris: leaves, bits of bark, etc. Immature members of your party will be likely making poop jokes before warned it will be annoying the whole trip and you may get this juvenile discussion from multiple groups.

The vegetation and debris is usually particularly bad right at the great cathedral. Be prepared to have to push your way through lots of floating logs, do not send a weak swimmer or someone with little upper body strength first if you observe a good deal of logs from the top of the rappel.

History: The Zion Mt-Carmel tunnel goes along this canyon. The final rappel is right near one of the old viewing windows. Built in the time of model-T's, this tunnel is now too narrow to accommodate today's large RVs in different directions at the same time.

Hike: From the small parking area just east of the tunnel, head towards the bridge and follow the trail of use along the south edge of the bridge to reach the bottom of the drainage. Suit up here if you have not already. Shortly down canyon you will do a short downclimb and wade/swim into a pool and climb up a small fin to an anchor on canyon right LDC. Rig this rappel for approximately 60 ft. It is a double drop - 1st 15 ft into the shallow pot, then a walk to the edge and continuing another 20 ft or so to a (usually) swimming disconnect. Be careful the rope does not get stuck in the crack when pulling the rope after your rappel.

Shortly afterwards is a short 10 ft rappel from a log. Immediately afterwards is an amazing feature of this canyon. The Great Catherdral rappel starts in a sculted curve in the canyon and rappels approximately 60 ft into a grotto with 2 major arches and spectacular curves in all directions. Be cautious setting up this rappel and use your safety leash on the slippery, smooth, sloping rock lest you fall. Usually this is also a swimming disconnect.

After this is a section of walking through flat entrenched hallways. Looking up you can see the deep sinuous slot continuing hundreds of feet above you. A downclimb and more walking will bring you to a short rap and a possible swim. The canyon will begin to open up and then suddenly turns left.

Now in the sun, stay towards canyon right LDC until you approach a large drop off. Find the anchor on right LDC and rappel approximately 50 ft + another 6 feet until you reach the slickrock at the bottom. Go through a narrow constriction and find the terminal cliff of Pine Creek. Climb up on left onto the platform and find the small crack that leads to the airy anchor. The last rappel is currently 85 feet. It used to be 100 ft but the lower grotto of Pine collapsed a few years back creating a large debris pile. At the bottom of this rappel is a clear spring.

Now done with the last rappel, remove your gear and hike downstream. Do NOT take the use trail that appears nearly immediately downcanyon on the left side, this is an erosion path that the park does not want canyoneers to use (it is also an awful trail FYI). Instead stay in the streambed and hike and boulder down canyon. Find the fun and safe ways to get around the car sized boulders and stay in the watercourse. After about 30-40 minutes of walking you will see the brick wall that designates the switchback that you parked at above you and to your left LDC. From the nice swimming pool (though when I went it didn't look that nice) find the short steep trail that leads up to the road and your car. Should you miss this exit, the hiking is still pretty nice and you will hit another waterfall near the Spry terminus and another swimming area before nearing the bridge over the creek.

Water Sources: Nothing you'd want to drink, bring it with you.

Camping: In Zion Nat'l Park at South Campgrounds or Watchman.

Check out the Triplogs.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your canyon trip to support this local community.

2010-07-31 nonot
  • nps related
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

Most recent Triplog Reviews
Pine Creek Canyon
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I was talked into guiding two gal friends down this popular canyon on Labor Day before driving home and was not surprised to find the canyon loaded with other canyoneers. :roll: But it's a fun scenic canyon and def much more fun than driving home early. :GB: I lucked out again by quickly hitching a ride back up thru the tunnel after dropping the vehicle at the middle switchback. We put on full 3mm wetsuits since we've frozen our rears off in this canyon in the past, but due to lower water late summer conditions they weren't really needed and we were quickly dropping them while waiting at the last rappel. After waiting a good half hour, it was our turn to drop into the narrows and do a quick 3 rappels that drop us into the Great Cathedral and the deep dark narrows beyond. : rambo : The pool at the bottom of the Cathedral was chest high but the rest of the narrows was pretty much dry as a bone though still just as scenic as ever. Popping out of the narrows, we waited slightly to perform the sloping 80ft rappel and waited much longer before dropping down the super sweet 100ft free hanging rappel. :GB: It started to rain while I was setting up that rappel and continued to rain most of the boulder hop & hike down canyon. We were soaking wet by the time we reached the vehicle but were happy when the rain stopped and we could change into dry clothes while soaking in the memories of another great canyon. :GB:
Pine Creek Canyon
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It's nice to have a short & sweet canyon to play in before making the long drive back home. Doing this canyon last year was rather unpleasant due to a recent flash flood, but thankfully this time if was MUCH cleaner. :D After setting up the shuttle and gearing up, we dropped into the canyon but were quickly held up by three groups ahead of us slowly making it thru the initial rappel sequence. So after waiting about a half hour, we finally were clear to proceed down the first 2-stage swimmer rappel, follwed shorts from a 10ft drop from a log, and then finished with a super sweet 60ft fluted rappel into the Cathedral with a cool arch. :y: We stayed fairly warm up to that point, but after stuffing all ropes we proceeded into the dark, cold, and wet narrows and nearly froze our rears off. :o The narrows are quite sweet to play in and I managed to snag many photos while making our way thru the many canyon obstacles. Thankfully we didn't bump into any other groups in there until the canyon opened back up. When we did hit another group, we stopped and soaked up some sun to warm back up before proceeding to the final two rappels. The first one is an easy sloped rappel while the final rappel is another super sweet overhung 95ft rappel down some unique twisty sandstone narrows. :D Once down, we dropped gear and made the 'long' boulder hop down canyon with many down climbs back to our lower car. Such an amazingly beaUTiful canyon to finish this adventurous weekend off with! :sweat:
Pine Creek Canyon
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This is my second time through Pine and the water was cleaner (though there was more mulch in it) than my previous trip. We were also the only group in the canyon the whole day besides the rangers following us.

Completed the canyon in 2 hrs. Spent some extra time hiking downstream. I never found a great looking swim hole (the canyon had flash flooded 2 days ago and was still quite muddy) but did find the neat waterfall at the Spry terminus.
Pine Creek Canyon
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Middle Echo Canyon is still closed due to ice!?! :roll: So we decided to do this 'easy classic' instead and try my luck at hitching a ride. Luckily I'd been shaving every day and smelled good and got picked up by the third vehicle to come my way. :GB: I chatted the nice guy up about Zion & hiking & canyoneering so that he was ready to be rid of me once we were at the top of the tunnel. His wife was either in deep sleep or he offed her that morning and I didn't want to stick around to find out. :lol: We quickly dropped down below the bridge and starting gearing up since the narrows, pools, and rappels begin just beyond the bridge. :D The park rangers were also there canyoneering with us, checking our permits, and answering our many questions. This canyon also flashed on Saturday just like Spry, Lodge, & Grotto so it was still very full of dirty water with loads of debris floating in it as we got further down canyon. :yuck: The water was still kinna clean when we quickly hit that first double dropping rappel and the rangers let us go in front of them so we could enjoy that dirty swimmer before them. ;) That was quickly followed by some narrows and another 10ft drop into another swimmer. We soon hit that 'Great Cathedral' 65ft rappel and they graciously let me go first since I had the other rope. Blah, more like Manure Cathedral!!! :yuck: That swimmer at the bottom was the dirtiest & smelliest of the day & all the floaties kinna looked like cow patties. It's tough trying to clear the camera lens to get a good shot of your buddies on rappel when you're covered in crap... :roll: :lol: For the next 20 minutes, the canyon takes you thru some dark wet narrows with amazingly tall & curvy walls. :o Eventually the canyon opens up some with a 65ft rappel near one of the tunnel vents allowing you to hear vehicles driving by in the tunnel. Just around the corner is the super sweet 100ft overhanging final rappel. :y: People consider this an easy canyon with an exposed anchor station like that?!? Below that rappel is a cool spring that we washed up in and dropped our wetsuits. The next section involved loads of boulder hopping & down climbing as we slowly followed the creek back to my car packed at the 2nd switchback. Thankfully we could take a quick dip in the creek before climbing up to my car and making the long drive back home to PHX.

This canyon has been on my list for a few years now, yet this was probably my least favorite of the 4 canyons we did this weekend. Not that I didn't enjoy this canyon, its just that the other 3 were that much more enjoyable. :D This photoset isn't of the greatest quality due to it being such a dark & wet canyon but since there isn't one up on HAZ yet I'll share what I was able to get. ;)
Pine Creek Canyon
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Fun and not too difficult. Very cold nasty pool when rapping into the Cathedral. Last one was free hanging a hundred feet, awesome!

Busy in the canyon that day, a number of groups making their way down.

We had much better luck with the girls thumbing a ride to pick up the shuttle than me trying to thumb a ride back.

Permit $$
Information is listed below

Zion National Park
Zion Per Car/7 Day Entrance Fee (Permits such as backcountry and such may pertain too)

Map Drive
Paved - Car Okay

To canyon trip
From where highway 9 leaves the main part of Zion canyon (where the canyon shuttles split and head for the lodge) drive up highway 9 and go over Pine Creek, head west and do a switchback and head east until you approach the next switchback. Park here on the outside of the road at this 2nd switchback. This is the shuttle spot. Take you other vehicle up the remainder of the switchbacks and through the tunnel. Park in the small parking area just east of the tunnel's exit.

Permits are required for canyoneering, get them at the backcountry desk. There is a daily limit for permits so you may wish to reserve them ahead of your visit for an extra fee.
page created by nonot on Jul 31 2010 1:48 am
1 TB Flash Drive... $40
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