Angels Landing is a bucket-list trail for many outdoor enthusiasts. But unlike other bucket-list hikes like the Appalachian Trail or the Pacific Crest, Angels Landing is one that takes just a few hours rather than a few months — as long as you’ve properly prepped for it.
Thanks in part to social media snaps of the stunning views from the summit, thousands of people flock to Zion National Park each year with dreams of scaling Angels Landing. But despite its popularity and breathtaking views, the trail is dangerous, especially if you’re unprepared. There is plenty of hiking trails ideal for beginners with little to no hiking experience, or even those who have hiked before but aren’t prepared for Zion’s sometimes challenging conditions. Angels Landing isn’t one of them.
If you make it to the top of this steep, lengthy climb, you’ll find yourself traversing a narrow ridge above a steep, deadly drop-off, with only a chain to offer you a handhold.
While everyone, if they’re able, should try this hike at least once in their lifetime, you shouldn’t do it unprepared. If this hike is on your bucket list, keep reading for a few tips to help you prepare to scale Angels Landing.
Start Prepping Early
Depending on your current fitness level, you should plan to give yourself anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to get ready for your hike. Starting your preparations as soon as you start planning a trip will ensure that you have plenty of time to get to a comfortable fitness level.
Don’t Skip the Cardio
Hiking to the summit of Angels Landing will involve an elevation change of more than 1,600 feet. The average (prepared) hiker will take between 4 and 5 hours to hike the 4.4-mile out-and-back trail.
Building strength in your legs before attempting this hike is important. But if you want to make it to the top, don’t rely on strength training alone. Building cardiovascular strength is also essential.
Hiking local trails, and especially hiking trails with some elevation change, is perhaps the best cardio for preparing for your hike to Angels Landing. But other cardio activities are also great training. Swimming, cycling, and even jogging or brisk walking are also great cardio exercises.
Try an At-Home Hiking Workout
Want to take your hiking training to the next level? There are plenty of exercises you can perform at home that will help to strengthen the muscles in your legs and abs to better prep your body for your hike. Lunges, squats, and deadlifts with a kettlebell are just a few of the moves you can do at home during your training.
Know Your Body
Perhaps the most important thing you can do to prepare for any big hike is to learn how to read and understand your body. Before you start hiking up a trail that you’ll have to climb right back down, you need to know your limits and be prepared to admit when you’ve had too much. The last thing that you want to do is find yourself in need of emergency rescue in the middle of your bucket-list hike.
Give Your Gear a Trial Run
You can probably hike the Pa’rus Trail in your tennis shoes or outdoor sandals and regular vacation clothes. But hiking Angels Landing safely requires a bit more gear.
From a solid pair of hiking boots with plenty of grip in the soles to clothing that will help you stay cool in the sun or warm on a freezing day, having the right gear makes all the difference. Once you’ve gathered your hiking gear, give it a test run. Blisters and chafing can turn a fun hiking trip into a miserable experience. Do yourself a favor and make sure that your gear won’t stand in the way of a fun, comfortable experience.
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
Starting at least a week before your big hike, start hydrating. Even if you aren’t visiting Zion in the middle of summer and triple digit temperatures, you’ll need to be hydrated to make it through this strenuous hike. Pack more water than you think you’ll need during your hike, just in case.
Having some trail snacks on hand will also help give you that extra energy boost you might find yourself needing part way through.
Talk to a Ranger
No matter how much preparation you’ve done ahead of time for your hike, it’s a good idea to stop by the visitors center on the day of your hike, or the day before if you plan to start early. Once there, find a ranger, and ask about the trail conditions.
During the winter months, ice can make the trail particularly dangerous. And during the summer months, crowds may form, and make the trail less enjoyable. Talking with a ranger will help you to get a better idea of what to expect during your hike so that you can make an informed decision about whether or not to go on with your planned hike.
Planning Your Next Hiking Trip in Zion National Park
Hiking to the top of Angels Landing comes with more than just bragging rights — you’ll also enjoy some pretty incredible views. But if you’re not quite up to the challenge, don’t fret. There’s no shortage of other incredible hikes available in the park, catering to every ability level.
Ready to start planning your next adventure in Zion National Park? Book your stay at Watchman Villas to stay in the middle of the action. With a shuttle stop right outside, you can get to the park and on the trail early, without worrying about finding parking.