During our family trip to Zion National Park, we decided to tackle Angel’s Landing, one of the park’s most famous hikes. The five mile round trip hike takes you along the Virgin RIver for a short time before beginning the 1,488 ft. ascent to the summit of Angel’s Landing, which is at 5,790 ft with stunning views of the entire canyon. Before I get into our adventure, let me backtrack a bit and describe the planning that brought us to the trailhead.
Prior to visiting the park, I consulted my trusty Falcon Guide for Hiking Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks to find out more information about different hikes in the park that would be family friendly. Since this was our first National Park trip after the birth of our son Kingston, I had to plan our hikes keeping in mind that I would be carrying a 25 lb 18 month old child in our Kelty Child Carrier. Not only would this be an extra 30 – 40 lbs of cargo for me to carry, I wanted to make sure we would not be putting him in any dangerous situations. Therefore, I planned our hikes with increasing difficulty starting with Canyon Overlook, Weeping Rock, the Narrows, and ending with Angel’s Landing as our final hike.
When gearing up, we knew it was essential to bring as much water and sun protection as possible because most of the hike provides little to no protection from the sun. Since we started the hike in the morning around 9am with the knowledge the hike would take approximately 4 – 5 hours, we knew we wouldn’t be back until around 2pm for lunch. For this reason we packed lots of snacks to curb our appetites and stay energized throughout the hike.
The shuttle bus dropped us off at the trailhead and we immediately set off on the trail. The first .5 miles was nice and easy, meandering along the Virgin River with intimidating views of the cliffs above. Soon, the incline of the path became steep as we worked our way up long-winding switchbacks on the well marked concrete trail. Morale was great at this point and Kingston actually fell asleep with the gentle bouncing of the carrier. As we continued to work our way up, the morning sun pelted us from all angles and facilitated the fatigue that was beginning to set in. However, we pushed on until we reached Refrigerator Canyon where we stopped for a quick rest in the shade.
Continuing on from Refrigerator Canyon, the incline leveled off a bit and we were able to make up some lost time. One of the coolest features on this portion of the hike was Walter’s Wiggles, a series of 21 steep switchbacks immediately before reaching Scout’s Lookout. Once we arrived at Scout’s Lookout, we had the opportunity to go to the restroom and socialize with the local cliff chipmunk population. These guys were very comfortable with visitors and were even trying to climb into our bags to look for food!
Scout’s Lookout was the last stop before the .5 mile climb up the steep incline via a chain rope to the summit of Angel’s Landing. As we set off to traverse the final leg of the hike to reach the summit, I quickly determined that the difficulty of the chains was not something I was comfortable with having Kingston in the carrier. I made the decision to turn around and call it a day. The reward was just not worth the risk in this situation and we were really proud of ourselves to make it to Scout’s Lookout, which had equally stunning views. After some photos, we turned around and headed back down the mountain, promising to come back and make it to the summit one day.
In all, the overall difficulty of the hike was moderate and could be accomplished by anyone in average physical condition, granted you do not have a fear of heights. I would highly recommend Angel’s Landing and Zion National Park to anyone interested in the outdoors. This park is truly a gem, which I am looking forward to visiting again in the near future. Next time, I intend to conquer Angel’s Landing and the Subway.
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