Trail Review: Angels Landing at Zion National Park
We traveled to Zion National Park to hike The Narrows. We accomplished that – which was amazing – and had one more day to do another hike. My hiking partner, aka daughter, chose Angels Landing.
This will no doubt go down as one of my most memorable hikes.
I do not have a fear of heights, but scurrying up, over, and around a narrow cliff takes mental strength.
Location: Zion National Park, Utah
Trail Type: Out & Back
Elevation: 4232ft – 5718ft
We visited Zion in August, so the only option for us to reach the trailhead was to take the shuttle that follows the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive.
We were up bright and early, parked at the Visitor Center, and got in line to board the shuttle by 6:00am. Great minds think alike as a kazillion other people had the same idea.
We disembarked the shuttle at The Grotto stop. This is the place to use the restroom before heading out. We crossed the road, and began our adventure by walking over a bridge that spans the Virgin River.
West Rim Trail
The majority of the hike is along the West Rim Trail. The path is well maintained and wide enough to feel confident as you walk along the edge of a canyon wall.
The trail begins with a gradual incline. Then, it is kicked up a notch. There are switchbacks that had me huffin’ and puffin’ and walking slower than I would have liked. Eventually, it flattens out a bit along a beautiful area with lots of vegetation.
Next obstacle: Walters Wiggles. This section features 21 switchbacks that gain elevation quickly. It was not the most pleasant thing I’ve ever hiked, but I thought the lower section was more difficult.
After Walters Wiggles is a sandy flat known as Scout Lookout.
If I’m honest, I was hoping my hiking partner would decide she didn’t want to do Angels Landing and instead we would continue along the West Rim Trail. But nope, she was feeling fierce that day.
Scout Lookout is amazing. Hiking the 2 miles to reach it is definitely an accomplishment of its own and the view is spectacular.
From Scout Lookout you get a glimpse of Angels Landing and the chains. After accessing the situation, you have 3 options. 1-realize you have already had an amazing hike and head back to the canyon floor. 2-decide the chains aren’t your thing, but you aren’t done hiking so follow the West Rim Trail. Or 3-think the chains don’t look too scary and hike Angels Landing.
We chose option 3. I actually didn’t think it looked too scary. …which was true. The first section wasn’t bad.
We used the chains for a short section and made it here. I thought/hoped we had made it to the summit. I was surprised at how relatively easy it was.
We, of course, had only just begun.
It just got real. Using chains, we climbed this sandstone spine to the summit.
I was expecting it to be scary, which it kind of was. I know my body was full of adrenaline. But, mostly I was surprised at how steep the climb was. My thighs were burning.
We made it to the top and were rewarded with views of Zion Canyon 1500 feet below.
We crawled behind a rock and tree for a little R&R in the shade. We saw multiple condors soaring right about our elevation, which made my bird-loving heart happy. We also saw a guy propose. She said yes. ❤️
I am just in awe of this geological feature.
After a little break, we retraced our steps back towards the river.
This short section of gray rock near the summit was one of the scariest places. It was like walking on the peak of a roof. Of course we always had to watch our footing, but here it seemed especially important.
On our way to the summit everyone was heading that same direction. But, on our way back down many people were also going up. Thankfully, everyone was patient and remembered their manners. A group going down would complete a section, then a group would head up.
About to walk down Walters Wiggles.
Oh, those collapsible trekking poles would be wonderful right about now.
Woah! Such an incredible view of the trail.
Since it was early morning and we were in a canyon, the giant rock walls protected us from the sun most of the hike.
Even though it was only 10:30, we were hot. The Virgin River called to us and we soaked our feet before heading to the shuttle.
It’s true. It’s an adventure I will never forget. I am so grateful to have experienced it.
If I could change one thing it would be not hike Zion in the summer. It’s just too hot for my temperate Pacific NW body. We left our hotel to head to the park at 5:20am and it was already 84° outside. The sun wasn’t even up yet. Blech.
I’m kind of curious if I was unintentionally squeezing my leg muscles throughout the hike. I have conquered a lot of steep hikes. But, this one was more rough than normal for me. At one point on our way down I had to stop because my legs were jello. I was incredibly sore for days afterward. Possibly the most sore I have been. My hiking partner wasn’t sore even a little bit.
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