Sunday, April 19, 2009

Captain Holly's Hiking Blog, 2009 Edition: Angel's Landing, Zion National Park

I did this hike on March 27, 2009.

It's time for another fun-filled summer of hiking in the great outdoors of Utah. This year I have several good hikes on tap, starting with getting to the top of Box Elder Peak and then conquering the highest mountain in Utah, Kings Peak.

But for starters I decided to do the toughest hike in Zion National Park: Angel's Landing.

The "peak" is actually just a large slab of Entrada sandstone stuck right in the middle of Zion's Canyon. Because of its location, it provides incredible views of the entire canyon. These views come at a price, though: It's extremely steep and not for the faint of heart.

The trail is well-maintained and is quite easy for the first half-mile or so. Then as you start your way up it is paved with concrete or asphalt in order to accommodate the huge volume of hikers who climb it every year.

After about a mile, you get to what's called "Walter's Wiggles", a set of switchbacks built into the side of the mountain, leading to a flat area where there are pit toilets and places to relax and have lunch.

After that, the "easy part" is done. Now comes the white-knuckle climbing portion.

The trail from here is steep slickrock scrambling. The Park Service installed a chain because without it many people wouldn't be able to make it to the top.

Once you get on top, the view is worth it.

But be advised it's a long way down, especially on the north side.

A wonderful hike, it only took me about 3 hours to get to the top and back. But it is very strenuous, so be advised.



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