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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Angels Landing Trail, Zion National Park

Angels Landing Trail
Zion National Park, Utah 

5 Miles round trip to the edge of Angels Landing
4 Miles round trip to Scouts Lookout (before the chains)

Trail head: Grotto Picnic Area 

Angels Landing Rock Formation: 1,488-foot (454 m) tall

Elevation at the top of Angels Landing: 5,790 feet

View of Angels Landing from the parking lot, Zion National Park

Angel’s Landing is one of the most famous and iconic hikes in Zion National Park. Angels Landing and The Narrows are usually the most talked about hikes, and find their way to the top of everyone’s MUST Hike List. 

The challenge.
 The first 2 miles of the trail are hard work, but the last 1/2 a mile is for thrill junkies only.

Angel’s Landing is the high, steep cliff face overlooking Zion Canyon. "While exploring what was to be present day Zion in 1916, Fredrick Fisher proclaimed “only an angel could land on it” and consequently the monolith was named Angel’s Landing" Source

Virgin River, Zion National Park
To start, you will cross a bridge over the river, and head up the paved trails.  The trail starts out  relatively flat but starts to switch back up the steep trail quickly.

Insanely gorgeous view down the canyon from the Angels Landing Trail, Zion National Park

Soon you are rewarded with this view down the canyon. I could spend the day here it was so insanely beautiful. The trail will head up some steep switchbacks until you reach Refrigerator Canyon. This canyon is a nice flat(ish) paved trail, between the canyons where the temperature drops, and the shade is a nice relief. 

 After leaving this canyon, you head up again and approach Walter’s Wiggles, the very steep switchbacks leading to Scouts Lookout and the section of the trail where the chains start. Walters Wiggles are a serious glute workout (21 switchbacks), I promise! After Walters Wiggles, you reach the start of Scouts Lookout. Here you will find some bathrooms, as well as a lot of people waiting for their friends and loved ones to make it back from "the chains".

Refrigerator Canyon, Zion National Park

Walters Wiggles, Angels Landing Trail, Zion National Park

This is the spot where I enjoyed a cold beer, and watched the hikers leave nervous and excited, and come back either feeling accomplished or in tears (a whole lotta tears).
First views of the chain section of Angels Landing Trail, Zion National Park
The hikes claim to fame is the last half a mile of the hike, where the paved trail ends, and “the chains” begin. The last half mile of the hike is up the rocky spine of Angels Landing. A set of poles and chains runs through the middle of this half mile stretch.

The easy beginning of the chains on the Angels Landing Trail, Zion National Park

If you are not a fan of heights like me, you can still enjoy a hike to Angels landing up to the point where the chains start, known as Scouts Lookout or “Quitters Corner”. The trail up until this point is a challenge, with steep climbs and large drop offs, but with the actual comfort of the trail. 
Scary part of Angels Landing I did not make it to- "Leap Of Faith"- 1000' drops on a 2' trail
Angels Landing photo (Zion National Park) -- © 2007 Joe Braun Photography
The view from the very edge of Angels Landing. 

The trail gets as narrow as 2' in some spots, with 1,000’ drops on each side. The only thing keeping you plummeting to your death is steady foot work and a firm grasp of the chain. Not only is the trail narrow, with 1,000’ drops, but it is a verrrry popular trail with a lot of traffic, and a lot of people pulling on that chain in front of you and behind you. 

No. Thank. You. There have been a few deaths at this section of the park. But when you compare it to the thousands of people who use this trail, it really isn't common. Just make sure you have some steady foot work. If you have any fear of heights, they recommend you stop at Scouts Lookout.  Eight Reasons you shouldn't hike Angels Landing.

Warning signs at Angels Landing Trail, Zion National Park

Canyon Views, Angels Landing Trail, Zion National Park
If this does not sound like your cup of tea, don’t worry, you can enjoy the hike up until this point. The views are phenomenal along the entire hike. Do not let this trails history/talk scare you away. The views are spectacular and you can still experience amazing views up until Scouts Lookout.
Heading back down the Angels Landing Trail, Angels Landing Trail, Zion National Park
Steep drops and gorgeous views, Angels Landing Trail, Zion National Park

Canyon Views, Angels Landing Trail, Zion National Park
Canyon Views, Angels Landing Trail, Zion National Park
Steep climb on the Angels Landing Trail, Zion National Park
End of the trail, the Virgin River, Angels Landing Trail, Zion National Park
The hike back down is gorgeous, with more astonishing views. If you only make it to quitter corner, you are still enjoying a gorgeous 4 mile hike, with some serious incline and view for days. Power to you if you make it all the way to the landing, and a high five if you only make it to Quitters Corner like me ;)

Avoid this trail in icy conditions, and in the summer, 
make sure you start before the heat sets in. Good Luck!

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