Distance: 4.8 miles (7.8 km) round trip
Summit elevation: 5,785 ft (1,763 m)
Elevation gain: ~1,500 ft (457 m)
Date: March 16, 2011
Angel's Landing (left of center) from the Grotto in January 2011
Angel's Landing in Zion National Park in southwest Utah is one of the most spectacular hikes in North America. The short trail ascends to the rock formation in the middle of Zion Canyon and has sections were the trail is only a few feet wide while there are 1,500 foot vertical drops on both sides.
The trail up to Refrigerator Canyon
The trail is accessed from the Grotto and follows the Virgin River for the first half mile before rapidly ascending into Refrigerator Canyon, which can have air temperatures ten degrees cooler than the surrounding area. At the upper end of the canyon begins the ascent to Scout Lookout through a series of 21 consecutive switchbacks known as Walter's Wiggles.
The trail from Scout Lookout to Angel's Landing
Scout Lookout can be safely accessed year round, although there will likely be ice on Walter's Wiggles in winter. From here to the summit of Angel's Landing it is very dangerous when snow/ice is present as footing can be slippery even when the rock is dry. This section is narrow with vertical drop offs, steps cut into rocks, and chains to provide handholds. Several fatalities have occurred on this trail.
Looking down Zion Canyon from Angel's Landing
The summit is wider and has space for plenty of people to sit and enjoy red rock canyon. The summit, while far below the canyon rims, has a view that is stunning even on cloudy and windy March day, such as the day I made the hike.
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