Overview - Date/Time: March 28, 2017/ ~10:50am - Weather Conditions: Clear skies, windy as you ascend - Time Duration: 2.5 hours - Distance: 6 miles roundtrip Difficulty: strenuous
This trail takes you 1500 feet above ground, the highest peak traversable in the park. If you are afraid of heights, have any physical conditions or poor sense of balance, avoid proceeding to the very peak of the trail. After a good 2.5 miles of nicely paved trails there will be a difficult and fairly dangerous uphill you must traverse to reach the top. Once you overcome it however, the view is unforgettable.
In order to reach this trail, you must take the shuttle bus to the Grotto stop, which is the fourth stop after Zion Lodge. From there you will cross the main road to reach a bridge that runs over the Virgin River and onto a dirt road. The road diverges into an uphill staircase-like path and one that goes right going against the flow of the stream. Take that right to begin your Angel’s Landing hike.
Immediately as you begin the trail, you can see in the distance a mountain that stands out from the rest of the canyon: that is the mountain that you will be scaling for the next hour or so. The road towards the mountain deserves some recognition as well; the river to the right seemed to be small in stature but you can see the fallen trees and lifelessness surrounding it, which is a testament to the power of the flash floods that occur in the canyon. Everywhere else along the path is decorated with vibrant green bushes and trees that give the road more life as you go through it. The path before the mountain is more or less flat with some small and manageable hills.
As the path begins to steepen and become zig-zagged, you will know that you have begun your ascent upward. As you scale on the side of the mountain, it will be uphill the entire time, so brace yourself for a big cardio-work out. As you go uphill you can see a long line of hikers scaling along the mountain side, and notice how small the forestry becomes as you go up higher and higher. Luckily, the road is well paved out and wide, so you can easily avoid the down-climbers. By mid-way you can already see a vast overlook of the canyon.
You are rewarded with a brief level ground as you pass through a channel between two mountains. There is another bridge along this portion but it will not be as big as the initial bridge. Here, you can see a close up view of the mountain side, and notice the small detail of the rocky exterior that has been formed by millions of years of erosion and flash floods. Consequently, it gives the rocks a smooth surface and marks that resemble a layered-cake.
Once you see a set of porto-potties and large groups of people resting on flat boulders, you have almost reached the top of Angel’s Landing. Already at this point you can see a vast landscape of the park. If you want to proceed further to the end of the trail, you will have to scale smaller peaks that have really smooth rocks that you can easily slip on, a super narrow trail that causes you to leapfrog over people heading the opposite direction, There are chains attached to the walls that you can hold onto to prevent any slipping, however they will not stay there for the second half of the peak. So proceed on this part of the trail at your own risk. We didn’t take this part of the trail because of the huge congestion of visitors coming back down from the trail and the slipperiness of the rocks made it difficult to keep our balance on.
This is a good trail to start your day with, not only because you get to avoid a huge crowd early in the morning, but you can get a nice view of the entire park right off the bat. As the trail becomes a pretty steep incline, you should be prepared for an up hill battle all the way through: stretch ahead of time, take plenty of rests as needed and drink lots of water. Lastly, if you are afraid of heights or you don’t have good hiking boots or have poor balance, don’t risk going through the final part of the hike, as it has unfortunately taken the lives of five people thus far in the past 100 years, according to the National Park Services. Be adventurous but also keep your health and your life safe as well.