The 5 Sections of the Angels Landing Hike

Group of women on the Angels Landing hike.

The Angels Landing hike is one of the most popular trails in Zion, with some of the most stunning scenery you will ever see. Hikers come from all over the U.S. and abroad for the challenge of this thrilling trail, which can take anywhere from three to six hours to complete. Experiences range from the challenging switchbacks of as “Walter’s Wigglesto the drop-offs and beautiful Angels Landing views of Scout Lookout. Get to know the five sections of the Angels Landing hike at Zion National Park.

Grotto Trailhead

This is the starting point for the legendary Angels Landing hike. The sixth stop on the Zion Shuttle, the Grotto Trailhead begins at the Grotto Picnic Area, past Court of the Patriarchs and Zion Lodge. This is the starting point for your uphill hike to the Angels Landing summit.

Refrigerator Canyon

The first two miles of the Angels Landing hike follows the paved portion of the West Rim Trail. Refrigerator Canyon’s hanging gardens offer a brief respite from the sun and a chance to cool off. This is the only shady part of the Angels Landing hike. By the end of Refrigerator Canyon, you’ve ascended 1,000 feet.

Walter’s Wiggles

Be prepared to get your heart (and thighs and calves) pumping as you tackle this series of 21 switchbacks known as ‘Walter’s Wiggles.” The wiggles are named for Zion National Park’s first superintendent, Walter Ruesch, who constructed the switchbacks in 1926. Walter’s Wiggles lead to Scout’s Lookout, where you’ll get an impressive view of Zion Canyon below. This is the turnoff from West Rim Trail to the Angels Landing summit. This is also the turnaround point for those unwilling to tackle the most challenging part of the hike to the top.

The Spine (Hogsback)

After Walter’s Wiggles and Scout Lookout, the last half-mile of the Angels Landing hike is nothing short of exhilarating – and definitely not for the faint of heart. This strenuous final section of the hike features steep drop-offs of 800 to 1,000 feet on either side as you ascend 500 feet along a narrow mountain ridge. Chains and carved steps provide a little support and security as you brave this harrowing section of trail.

Zion National Park Angels Landing
Angels Landing View & Summit

You made it! You’re now standing at 5,790 feet elevation with sweeping 360-degree views of some of the most breathtaking canyon scenery you’ll ever see. Relax, breathe, take it all in, and enjoy the Angels Landing view. Then head back the way you came. (Don’t worry, most hikers say the descent to Scout Lookout is much less harrowing than the ascent!)

Angels Landing

Angels Landing Hike Tips


Angels Landing is an extremely strenuous hike, and should not be attempted by inexperienced hikers or those in poor health. Take this hike seriously, and don’t attempt this hike with small children who can get out of your control fast. Bring water and snacks, and slow down when you need to.

Spring and fall are the best time to take on the Angels Landing hike. Although the trail is open year round (weather permitting), summers can be unbearably hot along the exposed trail and winters are unpredictable. Always check conditions at the Visitor Center prior to heading out. We can help you learn all you need to know about Angels Landing, including the new permit system. Want to hike Angels Landing with some support? Book a guided hike and have a Zion Ponderosa expert hiking guide show you the best way to tackle Angels Landing.

Click here to test your knowledge of Angels Landing with this fun quiz!

Comments 2

  1. Very well-stated and quite accurate. I just completed the hike at age 69, and feel it is a major (bucket-list) accomplishment. As I advised my own group, the appropriate approach to a hike of this nature is to respect the trail, but do not fear it. You’ll be just fine, and safe. And yes, the descent is far easier than the ascent, unless one has major joint issues, in which case the impact of descent must also be respected.

  2. Post

    Wonderful accomplishment—this is definitely a challenging hike! Thank you for sharing your tips.

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