The Angels Landing hike is one of the most famous and thrilling hikes in the world. While this part of the hike is only a half-mile one way, it’s a spectacular half-mile. However, in order to reach the trailhead, you must first hike 2 miles of a steep, but paved trail.
The Details of Hiking Angel’s Landing in Zion
Getting To the Trailhead
The trail head can be found just outside of the Grotto Picnic area in Zion Canyon. You can either park at or take the shuttle (if it’s running) to The Grotto. From the Grotto Picnic area, cross the Zion Canyon Road, and head toward the footbridge that passes over the North Fork of the Virgin River. Once across the bridge, follow it to the right to the West Rim Trail.
The Hike to the Scout’s Landing (West Rim Trail)
The first 2-miles are paved and well-maintained. It’s a steady uphill trek as the trail ascends a series of switchbacks, and while the hike itself isn’t particularly difficult, it is steep. If you need to, pace yourself. Most of the path is sunny, but when you reach Refrigerator Canyon (about 1 mile in) – you’ll get some time to enjoy the shade and often a cool breeze as you continue along. As you move on from the cooling air of Refrigerator Canyon, but before you reach Scout’s Landing, you’ll proceed through a section of 21 sharp switchbacks called Squiggle the Wiggles. You’ll know it as soon as you get to it. Once you reach the end of the arduous switchbacks, the path will open up to a large sandy area called Scout’s Landing. Here, you’ll find some beautiful views as well as a good opportunity to take a short break.
As you enjoy a moment of rest you’ll notice the cliffs of Angel’s Landing looming up ahead, and if you’re feeling up for the challenge, venture onward.
*Note* Do not hike this part of the trail when it is wet, storming, or when high winds are present. Also, make sure to allow yourself plenty of time to get back (if leaving later in the day) before sun down.
From Scout’s Landing to Angel’s Landing
The next half-mile to the top of Angel’s Landing, is along a narrow sandstone ridge with sheer cliffs on either side. The trail is narrow with drops 1200′ on one side and 800′ on the other. Running through the middle of the ridge is a metal chain for hikers to use to assist them as they climb. This part of the hike also includes some amount of rock scrambling an even a tiny bit of climbing. However, upon reaching the top, you’re in for an amazing view – about 1500′ below, the Virgin River winds around the Organ. Looking northeast across the canyon is Observation Point and to the east is Cable Mountain.
*Note* While exploring Zion in 1916, Frederick Fisher exclaimed, “only an angel could land on it,” and thus the monolith was named Angels Landing.
Tips For Hiking the Angel’s Landing
Bring Plenty of Water
As with pretty much any hike, bring plenty of water with you. The hike to the top of Angel’s Landing can be mildly strenuous, and it can get pretty hot – you’re going to get thirsty baking in the sun. This trip takes about 2-4 hours depending on how much time you spend enjoying the views and how fast you hike. Make sure you have enough water to last. A safe bet is 1.5-2L of water.
You Can Do It!
The first part of the hike (to Scout’s Landing) is a fairly strenuous uphill trek. Take your time and pace yourself and you’ll surely make it to the top. Refrigerator canyon is a great place for a nice rest in the cool breeze. The second part of the hike to the Angel’s Landing summit is more nerve-wracking than it is difficult. Taking your time will get you to where you want to go – just be courteous not to block the other hikers.
Enjoy the beautiful scenery. It’s a great hike, and ends with a gorgeous view of the canyon. If you’re considering doing this hike, chances are you’ll be able to do it. But if you do have second thoughts, Scout’s Landing is a perfect place to stop and turn around – you’ll still get a great view.