Blogposts + Photos from Hikes we’ve done
Angels Landing, Zion National Park Utah
There’s no view more dramatic than what you see hanging onto a chain bolted into a cliff.
Angels Landing is one of the world’s most renowned hikes, and is an unforgettable short adventure hike worthy of all bucket lists. The views of Zion Canyon’s 270 million-year-old rock layers will time travel you back to the Triassic period when this section of the Colorado Plateau was a flat basin at sea level. Anyone in an average physical condition can make this heavenward trek, but it can be mentally challenging with its steep switchbacks and sheer drop-offs. There are chains bolted into the cliff to provide secure handholds. People who have a severe fear of heights should not attempt the final stretch, but can enjoy the trail all the way to Scout Lookout. Trail Details…
The Grotto Trailhead – Zion Canyon
Strenuous; steep with exposure to long drop-offs
5 miles (round trip), 4-5 hours
The best time of year to hike Angels Landing is in spring, summer and fall. Summer afternoons are very hot–get up early in the morning while temperatures are still cool. During winter the trail ices over and can be extremely dangerous. Do not hike during a thunderstorm–lightning will strike.
Drinking water and restrooms are available at the Grotto. Carry water and snacks. Use a small backpack so your hands are free to hold the chains.
The trailhead is at the bridge across the road of the Grotto Picnic Area, in Zion Canyon. The first part of the hike follows the West Rim Trail, which is clearly identified by a sign. The trail is broad and well maintained. The first section is fairly level as it follows the river and then crosses the canyon bottom. Switchbacks allow the trail to climb the canyon wall, up to Refrigerator Canyon. That canyon is pleasantly cool, scenic, and walking is easy.
The trail then climbs another series of switchbacks, called Walter’s Wiggles. These 21 switchbacks are very tight and you gain elevation rapidly, but this section is short and not oppressive.
The Wiggles put you on top of the ridge, at Scout Lookout, where views are amazing. Restrooms are available here, but no drinking water. From Scout Lookout, gaze at the ridge to the south and you’ll get a good idea of the difficulty of the rest of the hike.
For the final 1/2 mile, the trail follows the ridge across a saddle and up the hogs back. This is where things get interesting, steep, where you are grateful for the chains.
Cloud’s Rest, Yosemite
Looking to tag a life-list summit without queuing up? Pass on Half, Dome and opt for this 14 mile climb to Yosemite’s unsung granite peak
To take in one of Yosemite’s most stunning and wide-ranging 360-degree panoramic views, stretching from Hawaii in the west to Nebraska in the east. Or thereabouts. You can definitely see a lot of stuff from here.This hike is all about the destination, from which you’ll have striking views in every direction, including, perhaps most gripping of all, straight down. Turn a complete circle and you’ll be able to see any number of Yosemite landmarks, including Tenaya Lake, Half Dome, Mt. Hoffman, Sentinel Dome, North Dome, and bits of Cathedral Rocks and El Capitan, plus Merced Lake and dozens of peaks you probably won’t be able to name.
Tioga Road at the west end of Tenaya Lake
Strenuous, but not in the Half Dome category (speaking of strenuous, bring binoculars and you can watch hikers making their way up the Half Dome cables from here). An 8 out of 10. The most difficult part, unless you’re afraid of heights, will be a thousand-foot-gaining series of switchbacks about a mile and a half into the hike.
14.5 miles (round trip)
The best time of year to hike Clouds Rest is in spring, summer and fall. Summer afternoons are very hot–get up early in the morning while temperatures are still cool.
The trail is well-marked, well-traveled, and in good condition.
Be careful not to sprain your shutter finger at Tenaya Lake, a beautiful, crystal-blue tarn gouged by glaciers eons ago. Hop on the Sunrise Trail for a flat, 1.6-mile warm-up to the glittering azure of Sunrise Lakes. Then, let the climbing begin.
From here on, you’ll gain nearly 1,500 feet over 4.5 miles and climb, literally, into the clouds. Don’t worry about throngs of summit-hungry hikers: Clouds Rest lacks the crowds that nearby Half Dome attracts. Climbing along evergreen stands, isolated, alpine lakes and the eroding curvature of Tenaya Canyon, you may begin to feel you’re the only person left in the world.
Five miles in, the route steadily ascends to a ridgeline. The back end of Cloud’s Rest appears to the west. Hug the eastern edge of the mountainside and muscle your way through the 500-foot climb to the summit. All the glacier-carved wonder of Little Yosemite Valley and the surrounding peaks unfolds at the top of Clouds Rest (9,926 ft.). 360-degree views stretch for hundreds of miles. Even better: you’ll likely be looking down on Half Dome (8,836 ft.). Soak it all in and then backtrack to the trailhead.