HIKED EMERALD POOLS
Zion National Park Travel Blog› entry 3 of 6 › view all entries
May 23rd, 2009 – by: mellemel8
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE HIKE AND DAY:
- We arrived within 3hrs. We left at 9am. We noted that UTAH is an hour ahead.
- The drive was incredible through the 15 across Arizona.
- The weather was perfect. I just had to turn off the air conditioner driving up hill.
- The drive was so fast. I plan to drive up to Brice national park in June and it’s another an hour more.
- We drove through towns called, virgin, and hurricane.
- We pitched the tent and unloaded then walked to the visitor center to find a trail map.
- Zion is a tourist spot. there was shuttle to take us to the different trails listed.
- Our campsite was near restaurants, markets, and a movie theater. Why would you want to watch a movie in Zion?
- The view was majestic. We were nestled between 2 mountain ranges.
- We grilled hot dogs for lunch before hiking.
- We hiked all 4 trails.
- I heard people screaming that the water was hitting them. geeeeeeez it's just water, it's not wine. if it is i will be under it with my mouth open HAHAHAHAHA.
- We saw squirrels and caterpillars on the trails.
- There were small waterfalls.
- The trails were mixtures on sand, concrete, and big boulders.
- The weather was wonderful. In the shade was nice and cool.
- There were beautiful flowers on the trails and flowers blooming on cactuses.
- It is called emerald pools because the water is green from the algae.
- This was a busy day. There were so many people on this trail.
- Went to visit the meetup.com hiking group campsite. We hung out and had beer. Since one of the guys needed a jump start his truck. we bartered on beer. we met Kelly and Mike, the organizer of the hiking group.
- Even though this is not my type of camping. After a long day of hiking. A shuttle back to the campsite is helpful and relaxing.
Emerald Pools is one of Zion's sweetest signature trails.
Emerald Pools at a Glance
Photo Album: Emerald Pools Pictures
Trail Map: Emerald Pools Map
Map: Zion National Park Map
Day Hike: Yes
Trail Distance: 3 miles round trip
Lower Pool: .6 mile one way. 30 minutes. 69' ascent.
Middle Pools: 1 mile one way. 1 hour. 150' ascent.
Upper Pool: 1.5 miles one way. 1.5 hour. 350' ascent.
Kayenta Trail: 1 mile one way. 1 hour. 150' ascent.
Accessible Trail: The lower pool only.
Trail Usage: Heavy in the summer. One of the three most used trails in the park.
Difficulty: Lower Pool - Easy.
Sun Exposure: Full sun in most places.
Permits: Not needed
Trail Conditions: Well maintained. Paved lower trail. Dirt and rock, middle and upper trails.
Trailhead: Footbridge across the road from the Zion Lodge.
Trailend: Exiting on the Emerald Pools Trails leads to the Zion Lodge. The Kayenta Trail exit leads to the Grotto Picnic area.
Best Season: Year-round.
Trail Access: Late March to November, park at the Zion Canyon Visitor Center, and ride the shuttle. The rest of the year, drive into Zion Canyon and park at the Emerald Pools parking lot.
Off the Beaten Path: No, this is a popular trail.
Classic Zion Hike: Yes
Elevation Gain: Lower Pool - 69'. Middle Pool - 150'. Upper Pool - 350'.
Restrooms: Zion Lodge and Grotto picnic area.
Water Availability: Water bottles can be filled at the Grotto picnic area or the Zion Lodge.
See our vacation planning section for classic Zion National Park trails or glance at our favorite Zion National Park trails list or choose from a complete Zion National Park hiking guide. Get on the Zion Canyon Shuttle to hike the trail on this page.
Emerald Pools Trail System
Lower Emerald Pool
At the trailhead, choose the scenic Lower Emerald Pool Trail rather than the steeper Middle Emerald Pool Trail. Much of the paved lower trail is shaded by cottonwood and boxelder trees as it winds along the North Fork of the Virgin River. It's just over a half-mile to the lush alcove of the lower pool. Moisture seeps from sandstone and mist sprays from the falls, feeding lush hanging gardens in the recessed rock.
Middle Emerald Pools Trail
Continue behind the falls. The unpaved trail emerges into sunlight, leading to the middle pools. After a couple of short switchbacks, and a gain of over 100' in elevation, hikers come to the plateau of the middle pools. At the middle pools, shallow streams cross the trail, before the water spills over the lip to the lower pool. The first middle pool is formed by the Behunin Canyon watershed - one of Zion's drier canyoneering routes.
A gallery of Zion landmarks compete for attention from the lofty perch of the middle pools, but Red Arch Mountain is center stage. Lady Mountain, one of the original trails in Zion Canyon, towers almost 3000' above the canyon floor. The difficulty of maintaining the "via feratta" of Lady Mountain and nearly impossible conditions for rescue forced the park to disassemble the chains and ladders along the trail and discontinue promotion of the hike in the 1970's.
Upper Emerald Pool Trail
The trail leading to the Upper Emerald Pool is on the ridge between the two middle pools. Though most of the foot traffic ends at the spur to the upper pool, where the trail becomes more rugged and steep, the upper pool at the end is worth every step. This secluded oasis is framed by colossal cliffs on three sides. Watch for canyoneers rappelling from Heaps Canyon down the backside of the boulder-rimmed pool.
There are three ways to enter or exit the Emerald Pools Trail System, so unlike most of Zion's trails there is no need to backtrack. For a variation on the exit, take either the Middle Emerald Pools Trail back to where the trail began or the Kayenta Trail to the Grotto.
The Emerald Pools Trail was completed in 1925 and named due to the green tint the algae gives the three pools. Rock slides have changed the trail system over the years. Heaps Canyon and Behunin Canyon were named after Mormon pioneers from the late 1800's. The old stone building at the Grotto is the original Zion National Park Visitor Center, the second visitor center is now the Zion Human History Museum.
One of the first shuttle stops is to a short, uphill path leading to a view point to see a trio of similar shaped cliffs.
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