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Pine Creek-Standard Route

Pine Creek-Standard Route

Pine Creek-Standard Route

Page Type: Route

Location: Utah, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 37.21220°N / 112.9423°W

Object Title: Pine Creek-Standard Route

Route Type: Hiking, Bouldering, Scrambling, Canyoneering

Season: Spring, Summer, Fall

Time Required: Half a day

Difficulty: Class 4

Route Quality: 
 - 1 Votes


Page By: Scott

Created/Edited: Jul 11, 2007 / Jul 12, 2007

Object ID: 310620

Hits: 2914 

Page Score: 74.92%  - 5 Votes 

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There is currently only one recommended route through Pine Creek and drops into the canyon right at the highway. The route has several rappels (5-8 depending on the route and group). Conditions vary tremendously. Sometimes the canyon is a dry romp and sometimes it is filled with ice cold water. Flash floods change the canyon periodically and in fact a few years ago one of the old rappels actually disappeared and was taken out by a huge flash flood.

The canyon included some dark passageways, so for the best lighting, an 11 am start is recommended. The canyon begins right at the highway and then the canyon quickly slots up and has several drops and obstacles. The convoluted walls are really nice and the passages interesting. The slot opens up after the last drop and then there is an hour or two ob boulderhopping to get to the lower trailhead. Most parties seem to take about 4 hours for the route.

Dark slot
Dark section of the slot in Pine Creek.

Getting There

Pine Creek (along with Fry Canyon much farther east), actually has the easiest access of any slot canyon I know of. The slot actually passes under the highway!

Lower Trailhead

This is where you will exit the canyon. If hitch hiking, you will probably want to start here as you will be clean and dry before doing the canyon.

After obtaining the proper permit from the visitor center, drive up Zion Canyon to Highway 9. Turn right/east here and follow the road to the second switchback. Park here.

Note: Observe the surrounding landmarks so you will know the correct place to exit the canyon after completing it.

Upper Trailhead

Continue up Highway 9. Go through the tunnel and park at the parking lot just east of it and right after exiting the tunnel.

Dark passages
Kimberly in one of the dark passages of Pine Creek. The canyon is very hard to photograph unless you hit the correct lighting at the right time of day.

Route Description

From the parking lot, look for a trail down into the canyon just to the east of the bridge. Stay on the main one and keep off the blocked off trails.

Follow the canyon a short distance down. Soon you will reach the first rappel, which goes over two drops.

Several other rappels are down canyon. The third rappel and the best one is into what is known as the Double Arch Alcove or the Great Cathedral. This is where a swim is usually located.

After about four rappels and opening up, the canyon passes through one area of boulders where the tunnel window in the highway is visible. There are at least two ways to pass the jumble of boulders and drops. There is a bolted anchor on a ledge on the right side looking down canyon. You can also do the boulder jam and falls directly, but don’t leave any more bolts. There are also bypasses to the left, but this can create erosion and is not recommended.

The final rappel is a bolted drop of 100 feet into a clear pool and spring. If it’s hot out, take time to cool off and relax here as shade is in shorter supply down canyon.

It’s about a mile down canyon and to the road/trailhead at the second switchback. There is much boulderhopping. Most of the pools can be avoided, but if it’s hot out, you might as well wade through them.

You will see the wall of the highway on the left if you keep your eyes open. A trail leads from the creek to the highway which is the end of the trip.

Most parties take four hours, including taking lots of photos.

Double Arch Cavern/Great Cathedral
This is the rappel into what is known as the Double Arch Cavern or the Great Cathedral.

Essential Gear

Bring a climbing helmet, several slings, rings, descending gear, and a harness. A wetsuit is needed outside the summer season and often during the summer season. Check with the visitor center for current conditions.

One 60 meter rope will do, if you are 100% sure your rope really is 60 meters or 200 feet, but be aware that you can't see the bottom of the last rap from the top. Have the center marked. Otherwise, bring two 40-50 meter ropes.

Last Pine Creek Rappel
This is the final rappel in the canyon.


Tight NarrowsAfter the final rapOne of the first rapsFloating alongDouble Arch Cavern