This is considered a pinnacle hike, in many ways. Zion National Park‘s famous schlepp up to where even some angels might fear to tread (it’s pretty high up there, folks) is a must-do for many visitors to this uber-popular park. It’s called Angels Landing because, supposedly, in 1916 hikers wandering through Zion Canyon gazed upward and declared that only an angel could alight upon the top of the monolith. The trail passes through Walter’s Wiggles, provides stunning views from Scout Lookout, and will make you understand why someone would think it a place for angels to land.
How to do this hike:
1. Take the Zion shuttle (April-October) to The Grotto stop and disembark. You’ll see the little bridge over the Virgin River; cross it and then turn right.
2. Start walking. This 1.9 mile section of trail is paved up till Scout Lookout. Be aware you’ll be doing some serious ascending.
3. When you reach Scout Lookout, take a look south and up. That hill climbing steeply toward the sky is the actual Angels Landing. Many people decide to call it a day at Scout Lookout (affectionately known as Chicken-Out Point for reasons which shall be obvious to you). If you’re game, keep going.
image: Alex E. Proimos/Flickr
4. It’s half a mile from Scout Lookout to the top of Angels Landing. You’ll also be climbing another 500 feet. This part of the trail is chained in many sections, the trail is skinny, and the drop-offs are impressive. Be really sure this is for you!
5. Once you’re safely on top, take in the stupendous views. Beware the edges, but know that there’s really plenty of room up there. You’re not standing on a tiny point; there’s room for lots of people.
6. Descend the same way. Be advised that this trail offers a nice pounding on the knees. You might consider trekking poles and walking sticks.
Tips on doing this hike:
1. Start early. You don’t want to be descending in the dark.
2. Most people will take about three or four hours to do the entire hike. Plan accordingly.
3. If you are terrified of heights, this is sooo not the hike for you. Well, maybe up to Scout Lookout, but definitely not after that.
image: Sjors Provoost/Flickr
4. Kids are not always advisable on this hike. Young kids, boisterous kids who may not listen to you and your warnings about edges, and clumsy kids are probably not a good bet for this potentially dangerous hike. Judge wisely.
image: Ada Be/Flickr
5. You can connect Angels Landing with longer trails, such as an additional three miles (uphill) to the West Rim.
Random facts about this hike:
1. The trail was built in 1926.
2. Walter has 21 Wiggles (little switchbacks) along the way.