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Hiking Angels Landing

For some strange reason my family decided to hike Angels Landing the day before Thanksgiving. Looking back, I guess it was the right decision—don’t want to puke chunks of turkey over the side of the mountain and hit some poor hiker in the face.

I remember it being a bit chilly. My brother Mike (the mountain man) showed us up by wearing shorts and a light jacket. When we finally reached the summit a few hours later, it felt like we were walking on the clouds.


Angels Landing received its legendary name in 1916. Fredrick Fisher and crew spotted the summit, and he quickly made the connection that would last through the ages when he said, “Only an angel could land on it” (

A short 10 years later, Thomas Chalmers Vint and Walter Reusch helped lead the creation of the Angels Landing Trail. This trail extended the current West Rim Trail. In the early 1930s, Walter helped form the last set of 21 switchbacks before the summit, hence the name Walter’s Wiggles.

Directions to the Trail

The trailhead is accessible via the Zion shuttle at the Grotto stop. For turn-by-turn directions from Google Maps, click here. The shuttle runs from March through October. From November through late February the canyon can be assessed by personal vehicle.

The Trail: After parking in the Grotto Picnic Area, walk north across Zion Canyon Scenic Drive to the footbridge over the Virgin River.

On the other side of the bridge, take a right (north) to follow the West Rim Trail for 2 miles. Directly in front of you on this trail is the summit—Angels Landing.

Next up you will see a set of switchbacks leading away from the Virgin River commonly mistaken for Walter’s Wiggles. In my opinion, this is where the going gets tough. No water is available at any portion of the hike after leaving the Grotto Picnic Area, so be sure to plan accordingly.

After these switchbacks hikers receive a wonderful break from Mother Nature via Refrigerator Canyon. Temperatures drop as the canyon blocks most natural sunlight from entering.

After exiting the canyon, hikers hit Walter’s Wiggles—a series of 21 sharp switchbacks.

Directly after the Wiggles comes Scout Lookout, the perfect spot for a family picnic, and probably the last safe place to turn around and head back to safety.

After Scout Lookout, hikers follow the last half-mile of the trail to the summit. This section is littered with narrow paths, sharp drop-offs, and loose rock. Chains placed deep into the mountain help alleviate some of the fear, but huge chunks of the path push on without them.

While definitely not for the faint of heart, the views from the top are definitely worth the scary moments.

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Joes Guide To Zion National Park
Modern Hiker

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