Along with The Narrows, this is one of Zion National Park's most iconic hikes. Not only does the 1,490-foot climb to the top of the knife blade fin called Angels Landing provide center stage, 360-views of Zion Canyon, but it will also test any hiker's comfort with heights and raise a few hairs on your neck. This hike isn't for everyone, but it will leave those who do make the entire hike breathless.
In 1916, one of four explorers to the region, Frederick Fisher, is said to have regarded the narrow iron oxide monolith with some trepidation, remarking that "only an angel could land on it." Other names have been proposed over the years, but "Angels Landing" has endured. By 1924, the 21 switchback section of the West Rim Trail known as Walter's Wiggles (named for an engineer) was already under construction, and since then visitors from near and far have made the 5-mile hike their primary priority while visiting Zion.
After Walter's Wiggles, the trail leads to Scout Landing, a flat perch at the intersection of the West Rim Trail and the Angels Landing spur trail. From here the thrill of the adventure begins as you walk on the extremely narrow trail guided only sporadically by a cable hand wire. The drop on your right is 800 feet; the drop on your left is 1,200 feet. To preserve the natural quality of the rock, guard rails have not been installed. Since the park's establishment* in 1919, five fatalities have been recorded from falls off the trail, so caution is absolutely critical. Surprisingly, nearby Emerald Pools Trail has recorded more deaths from falling, totaling seven.
* Although the area was officially named Zion National Park in 1919, it was named Mukuntuweap National Monument in 1909 by then president William Taft.
Note: This hike is not appropriate for kids 12 and under or anyone else with unsure footing. However, the 2.1-mile one-way hike up to Scout Lookout is still incredibly rewarding and is suitable for a much broader population of visitors.