Angels Landing is one of the world's great hikes - perhaps the best short adventure hike in any US national park. It provides amazing views of Zion Canyon. Physically, this hike isn't that challenging. Virtually anyone in average physical condition can make the trek. But it is mentally challenging because the final leg is very steep, with sheer drop-offs. Chains have been bolted to the cliff to provide secure handholds. People seriously afraid of heights should not attempt the final leg, but can still have a very enjoyable hike up to Scout Lookout. Read more...
The Grotto - Zion Canyon
Strenuous; steep with exposure to long drop-offs
5 miles (round trip), 4-5 hours
Best hiked in spring, summer and fall. Summer afternoons are very hot but mornings are pleasant. Ice makes the trail extremely dangerous in winter. Don't hike during thunderstorms because of danger from lightning.
Drinking water and restrooms are available at the Grotto. Carry water and snacks. Use a small backpack so your hands are free to hold the chains.
The trailhead is at the bridge across the road of the Grotto Picnic Area, in Zion Canyon. The first part of the hike follows the West Rim Trail, which is clearly identified by a sign. The trail is broad and well maintained. The first section is fairly level as it follows the river and then crosses the canyon bottom. Switchbacks allow the trail to climb the canyon wall, up to Refrigerator Canyon. That canyon is pleasantly cool, scenic, and walking is easy.
The trail then climbs another series of switchbacks, called Walter's Wiggles. These 21 switchbacks are very tight and you gain elevation rapidly, but this section is short and not oppressive.
The Wiggles put you on top of the ridge, at Scout Lookout, where views are amazing. Restrooms are available here, but no drinking water. From Scout Lookout, gaze at the ridge to the south and you'll get a good idea of the difficulty of the rest of the hike.
For the final 1/2 mile, the trail follows the ridge across a saddle and up the hogs back. This is where things get interesting, steep, where you are grateful for the chains.