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The Emerald Pools


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The Emerald Pools should be your first day hike in Zion. It's a great introduction. It's an easy trail, almost totally level with a few sets of steps getting from one pool to the next. It's not a long hike. You'll spend a maximum of two hours there. It's accessible. The trailhead is directly across from Zion Lodge. Just cross the road, cross the bridge and turn left. If you're camping or coming in on the shuttle, get off at the Lodge stop and follow the above directions. You won't need as much water on this hike : no more than two bottles and possibly just one.

But it's a beautiful hike. You'll see high waterfalls, the gurgling and splashing Virgin River, photogenic small pools of water below the falls, and what look to be finely painted rocks (actually mineral deposits being exposed by water).

The Emerald Pools Observation Point Angel's Landing West Rim East Mesa The East Rim Y

The round trip from the bridge is 2.5 miles. As you can see by the photos, the trail to the lower two pools is wide and even wheelchair accessible.

Be aware that bathing in the pools or walking through them is not permitted. You can do that in the nearby river.

The trail is actually a loop. One trail leads to the Upper Pool, the other the Lower two pools. So if you hike out to the lower pools, follow the stairs up to the upper pool, and follow that trail back, you'll see slightly different views.

The connector trail between Lower and Upper Pools is very rocky and uneven. It's only three tenths of a mile long, but anyone with mobility issues will find it difficult. They may choose to follow the Lower Pool Trail back to the bridge.

The trails are sublime. They're enveloped in Box Elder, Juniper, Maple and Oak trees. Through them you're looking straight up at Deertrap Mountain, Red Arch, The Great White Throne, Mount Majestic and The Spearhead. The shade, all the water and the huge rock formations keep the microclimate along the trail and pools cooler than the rest of the park.

These trails have been closed lately for extensive repairs, but they're open again as of Spring 2020.

If you visit in mid Summer or beyond, expect the waterfall to be diminished. If you want to see it in its full glory you need to be here either in Spring or after a full day or two of rain.

In June, July and August expect heavy crowds on the trails and lingering around the pools. They will include wheelchairs and baby strollers. If you're staying at the Lodge the best way to avoid them is to hike in the early morning, before the shuttles begin to run at 10 a.m. This means the first crowds should hit the trail at around 10:30 a.m.

You could hike directly from the Emerald Pools up to The Grotto, the Angel's Landing trailhead. The trail continues on the west side of the river, so you won't have to go back across the bridge. It's about a mile, so you could easily do it before heading back across to the shuttle or the lodge.

Especially if you flew in, this would be a good hike to do while you take a day and acclimate to the altitude and heat.

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