Angel’s Landing is just that. The beauty of this summit is so angelic it is actually fit for an Angel to land. The hike is beyond rewarding and the views are endless. The name actually came from some people passing through who commented “Only an angel could land on top of that.” That was back in 1916 and by 1926 the trail was created. Now, not only can angels land on it, but we get to enjoy those views as well, but not without putting in some extreme work.
This hike is labeled as hard, and rightfully so. However, if you are an avid hiker and know how to correctly climb areas with chains it isn’t that terrible. Don’t read that incorrectly. It is still a hard hike, but it could be a lot less difficult if you are an avid hiker that knows how to traverse chain areas.
Everything will tell you that the hike is hard and that there are 21 short switchbacks (aka Walter’s Wiggles) but I’m going to tell you my experience. Depending on what you consider a switchback and when you start counting them there are 11ish switchbacks that start your ascent up the trail. These 11ish switchbacks lead to the canyon, which they call the refrigerator. Boy is this accurate. The second you come around the corner of that last switchback the temperature drops at least 5 degrees, and that’s early in the morning. I can only imagine how amazing it would feel in the afternoon. Also, with that being said, DO NOT DO THIS HIKE IN THE SUMMER IN THE AFTERNOON. That’s just crazy and you won’t be able to truly enjoy the infinite amount of surrounding beauty.
Once you get to the refrigerator you will start to do a long stretch with a steady incline. This incline will eventually lead to the start of 29 switchbacks. Yes, I said 29. I counted 29 switchbacks. The first 8 of these are long switchbacks and maybe some people wouldn’t consider them switchbacks, but I do, and you may as well. After those 8 you will be at Walter’s Wiggles. It is very clear that you have reached Walter’s Wiggles when you get there. You can see the obvious switchbacks that are clearly built up for the ascent. Here you will see several people taking a breather, looking like they might die and wondering if they are almost there. The answer is no. You haven’t even made it to the trail head yet. Yes, you read that correctly. All this hiking is just getting you to the trail head. Once you reach the top of these switchbacks you will see a sign to the left and a sign to the right. To the right is Angel’s Landing.
Here is where you will start to see who is ready for this and who may be in over their head. In fact, I found the first set of chains comical. You will have people trying to go up while other people are trying to come down. Honestly, that’s the most frustrating part. Having to wait for people because there are areas that you simply cannot have 2-way traffic. Anyways, this first set of chains is where you see people spreading their legs in funny motions thinking they need it for leverage or sliding down the mountain, confused as to what to do. My advice, going up, just get your footing right, have the correct shoes and just go. Going down, go backwards, as if you were rock climbing. It is much easier to descend the chain areas backwards, stepping down. Now, the funny thing is people who don’t know anything about how to do that will look at you like you are crazy, and some might even try it and you can see their faces light up when they notice how much easier it is.
After you get past this first part you will come to what seems like a nice ending. You may even hear people shout in a victorious way thinking they made it to the top. I certainly did. I mean, I heard people do it, not that I did it. Come on :p When you get to this point, just look right. Then you will see the actual trail. This is probably going to scare you. The people look like ants and it looks like you have sooooo much more to climb. The fact is that you really don’t. That ascent is only a half mile. You have already done a lot of the hard work and you are almost there. It is worth it. Trust me.
Once you get past this last half mile of constant chains helping you up you will come to a narrow area where you are almost straddling the mountain to get to the peak. Keep going. You will see the peak and all the people on it. This is selfie heaven. It is almost overwhelming with all the people and pictures being taken. I honestly only took a few, had some trail mix and lost myself in the serenity and views. That’s something I like to do when I reach the summit. Actually take it in and enjoy it. My advice is to do the same. Yes, the pictures are great, but they really don’t do it justice. However, the peace you will receive by putting away your device and actually enjoy it will be more than worth it.
One of the things I have noticed with my hikes is I always power through the descent. I take a ton of pictures and time on the way up, but on the way back down, it’s almost like a race. I’ve either had enough or I’m ready for the next hike. And after this one, that is exactly what I did. I made the descent in 30 minutes and headed straight for The Narrows. That is a different story, for a different time though 😉
So, all in all, if you are physically capable to do this hike, do not miss your opportunity to sit with the angel’s. It’s not often this kind of opportunity with this kind of reward comes about, and to say you missed it would truly be a travesty. Don’t take my word for it, get up there and find out for yourself.
- Angel’s Landing is rated one of the most unique hikes in the world
- Angel’s Landing is 5,785 feet above sea level
- The narrowest portion of the trail is only a few feet wide
- Angel’s Landing is 5.4 miles out and back with approximately a 1,500 foot elevation gain.