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Angels Landing

There's no view more dramatic than what you see hanging onto a chain bolted into a cliff.

Angels Landing is one of the world's most renowned hikes, and is an unforgettable short adventure hike worthy of all bucket lists. The views of Zion Canyon's 270 million-year-old rock layers will time travel you back to the Triassic period when this section of the Colorado Plateau was a flat basin at sea level. Anyone in an average physical condition can make this heavenward trek, but it can be mentally challenging with its steep switchbacks and sheer drop-offs. There are chains bolted into the cliff to provide secure handholds. People who have a severe fear of heights should not attempt the final stretch, but can enjoy the trail all the way to Scout Lookout. Trail Details...

Start Location

The Grotto Trailhead - Zion Canyon

Difficulty

Strenuous; steep with exposure to long drop-offs

Distance

5 miles (round trip), 4-5 hours

Elevation change

1,488 feet

Weather

The best time of year to hike Angels Landing is in spring, summer and fall. Summer afternoons are very hot--get up early in the morning while temperatures are still cool. During winter the trail ices over and can be extremely dangerous. Do not hike during a thunderstorm--lightning will strike.

Other factors

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.

Route description

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.

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Trail Details

Grotto Trailhead (37.259392, -112.950038)

The trail begins across the river from the Grotto Picnic Area. It travels over pretty level terrain until you hit the switchbacks that take you up to Refrigerator Canyon.

Refrigerator Canyon (37.269802, -112.950396)

Refrigerator Canyon is always shady and cool, with a comfortable breeze that can enchant hikers in the sweltering heat of daytime.

Walter's Wiggles (37.275641, -112.951597)

Walter's Wiggles is a series of 21 switchbacks that quickly rises to the top of the ridge at Scout Lookout. From here you can preview the last half mile of the hike and is a common turn around point for those who consider it too difficult.

Hogsback (37.271108, -112.949816)

From Scout Lookout, you cross the Saddle and then climb the ridiculously steep and narrow Hogsback, using the chains that are bolted into the stone to keep from sliding over the edge of the cliff.

Angels Landing Summit (37.269125, -112.947894)

Once you've conquered the Hogsback, you are ready to mount the Landing. Hardy trees have made their homes clinging to the steep slopes of the Landing, offering shelter to birds, foraging chipmunks, and exhausted hikers.

 

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