Angel's Landing is one of the most popular hikes in the United States and is located in Zion National Park. You might have already seen photos and videos of people holding on the chains to hike the narrow trail to its summit. When my friend and I visited Zion on our road trip through the American Southwest, we were a little intimidated by this trail that. is rated very difficult. We are both healthy and pretty active, but we are not the type of people who train everyday at the gym or who run marathons. This trip was also pretty last minute, so we didn't have time to train for it. Let's just say we decided we were going to try it, but made the deal that at any point if one of us decided we were done, we were going to turn around and go back down and there would be no shame in it.
We planned our hike to give ourselves the best chance and started early in the morning so we would be in the shade for as long as possible and the heat would be less of a challenge. When we visited in September 2019, it was about 33 degrees Celsius in the afternoon.
This hike can be split in three sections. The first part is made of switch backs all the way up the vertical face of the mountain to the area where two mountains split that you can see on the picture above. Then you arrive to the section called Walter's wiggles, another section of switchbacks that are tighter and steeper that you can see on the picture below. And finally, the summit, where you have to hold on to chains and walk by the cliff on both sides.
Personally, I think the first part of switchbacks was the worst. It seemed infinite and we were in the sun for the most part so it was very hot. Usually when you hike a mountain, you will be going up and then the trail will go down a little bit and then up again and keep switching all the way up the mountain. Angel's Landing isn't like that. It's just up all the way to the summit and although the switchbacks aren't very steep, they give you no respite. You can stop at any point for a break and there is plenty of space for people to pass you if needed in that part, but it is rough on cardio and on your legs.
Once you are done with all the switchbacks and reach the summit section, it is more technical, but it gets easier in my opinion. Your mind is fully on planning where your next step should be instead of how out of breath you are. It also gets so beautiful that you are just blown away by it and grateful that you get the chance to see this view.
In this part, there is no rush. You take your time and if people want to pass you or if you want to pass other people, it can wait for a larger part of the trail where it is safe. Honestly, most people were very nice while we were there. Super respectful of others' limits and helping each other. Of course there were also people without water and hiking in flip flops, but what can you do...
When you reach the summit, you get a 360 degree-view on the whole valley and it blows your mind. It's been years and this is still my favorite hike ever, not only because I am proud that I reached the summit, but because the view was incredible. You feel like a bird flying through the valley and the feeling is indescribable.
We took our time on the summit, had a quick lunch and then slowly made our way back down. The switchbacks are still killer on the way down, but at least you are not as out of breath.
All in all, it took us approximately 3 hours for the hiking part and we took a small break before the summit and stopped for a long while on the summit. I would say from the time we stepped off the bus to the time we stepped back on, about 4 hours.
I seriously recommend doing this hike if you are able. It was easier than I thought it would be, but still a big challenge for me. I think if you are used to hiking mountains you can do it, but the heat and the switchbacks will be rough. The chains part was also more technical than I was used to, but it's not slippery so it wasn't that hard.
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