Monday, July 07, 2014

Zion: Jenny Peak and Little Jenny Peak

This is my 500th post, so I thought I'd indulge myself and reflect on the past.

Many years ago I hiked Jenny Peak and Little Jenny Peak on the east side of Zion NP.  Jenny Peak is marked on the USGS topo maps as peak 6310.  This google map is centered on it.  Little Jenny Peak is farther south, right near the cliffs above Parunuweap Canyon.  I hiked that area a lot from 2005 through 2007, but I haven't hiked it since.

Here is an old post I wrote in 2007.  It has a link to an annotated Google map I created with popup photos.  That was before I carried a GPS receiver that could export my track, so the route was crudely drawn from memory.

If you're tempted to hike this area, then I should warn you...

WARNING 1:  Jenny Peak is now off-limits to hikers.  Several years ago the park service established a research area that encloses Jenny Peak and that area is off-limits to hikers.   My hikes in this area predate the closure.  Summitpost also indicates that it is closed to hikers.  They even mention a sign that was not there when I hiked the area. 

The research area is marked in bright green on Map D of the Zion Backcountry Management Plan on this NPS page.  Jenny is in the green zone, but Little Jenny is not.  The easiest legal route to Little Jenny would be via Gifford Canyon.

I don't suggest breaking any rules or laws.  Check with the rangers at the visitor center.  

WARNING 2: This route is dangerous and difficult.  It includes steep class 4 slickrock and a lot of route finding.  I'll describe my route and show some photos here for the historical record.


My route begins at a turnout on highway 9 sized for a single car, down a trail to Clear Creek below and then heads south down a canyon.  In 10 minutes you reach a really hard part.  I know that other hikers use different routes up the hills on the left side of the canyon.  I just walk right up the steep slickrock hill.



This hill is very steep, but only in short sections.  It is steeper than the hill from Canyon Overlook up to the East Temple Saddle.  It is not quite as steep as the south ridge of Lost Peak.  Like all such hills, coming down is harder than going up.  On one hike I chose to take an alternate route down adding 45 minutes and requiring bushwacking down a very steep tree covered hill (or an easy rappel down a 50 foot rock face if I had a rope with me).  This is the view north, toward Progeny Peak, from partway up the hill.


After getting up that hill, there's a surprisingly easy way to ascend the slickrock to the west and get to Jenny Peak.  Pine trees mark a spot where you can begin a long traverse north along a natural shelf in the sandstone.  In a few places, that shelf gets narrow and kinda disappears, but then resumes.  This shot looks back down toward the pine trees at the beginning of that ramp.


Do not try this traverse if you're afraid of heights.  There's a huge drop on your right.


The hard part is reaching the pine trees.  It requires about 50 feet of bushwacking.  The Zion BC map I linked to above shows that the traverse would cross the research area boundary.

At the end of the traverse, you're at the base of a series of slickrock bowls.  Just walk up them any way you like and head up and around the north end of the peaks.

Here's the route shown on a photo I took from the top of Progeny Peak.  


Here's the route shown on a photo I took from the top of the hill directly east of Jenny Peak.


Here are some of my photos from around the summit of Jenny Peak.




This one looks south zooming in on the direction I was headed.


Here's the southwest face of the hill with the twin peaks (looking northeast).  That's steeper than it looks.  Each time I hiked it I found myself traversing, using the natural sandstone inclines.


Approaching Little Jenny.


And finally, Parunuweap Canyon from the top of Little Jenny.  I'm sorry my photography skills aren't a match for Joe Braun and others.  But I still think it's a great view.




Here's a shot of my Magellan GPS map.  This particular hike was to Little Jenny.  You can see that it skirts the top of Jenny.  I'd hiked to the top of Jenny Peak the previous summer in 2006.

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