Emerald Pool Trail
Zion National Park

The Emerald Pool trail in Zion National Park has 3 levels: Lower Pool, Middle Pool and Upper Pool. Depending on your skill level you can choose to visit one or all three pools. The Lower Pool is categorized as an easy trail with 70 feet elevation gain. The Middle and Upper Pools are listed as "moderate" hikes with 150 and 200 feet elevation gain respectively. The trailhead is easy to find: it is on the west side of the Virgin River, across from Zion Lodge.

Upper Emerald Pool

Upper Emerald Pool
Trailhead to Upper Emerald Pool: easy walking.

Emerald Pool
Look over guard rails to see Lower Pool. Look up to see waterfall(s) from Middle Pool.

Lower Emerald Pool

The trail begins easy enough with a pleasant walk along an unpaved dirt trail. But this changes quickly as you approach the pools. The spray from the waterfall and people's footsteps transform the packed trail into a wet & muddy one.

It is slippery so take care. To see the Lower pool, you need to look down. There is a guard rail, so you should be safe; still take caution because it is slipper. One of the best features of the lower trail is that you standing under the waterfall.

It takes about half an hour to reach Lower Emerald Pool (one hour round trip).

Emerald PoolScene after Lower pool and before Middle pool. Note the people who have to walk under the waterfall to reach Middle pool.

Emerald Pool
Waterfall(s) from Middle Pool spills over this rim to feed the Lower Pool.

Middle Emerald Pool

To reach the Middle trail, you need to walk under the waterfall skirting around the side of the rockface. Once you've passed the waterfall, you can see the rim which holds back the Middle pool. In late summer and fall, the waterfall appears to be but a trickle. But in early spring, the waterfall can be quite powerful and dramatic.

The striations on the rim of the rockface indicate where the water would be spilling-over had you come during spring thaw.

The Middle pool itself is not terribly impressive; however it is very calm. Sometimes the pool reflects the blue sky and the surrounding green trees making it appear "emerald". The size of the pool will vary depending on the season. It is interesting to note that water seeping from this pool feeds the waterfall which you saw when you were at the Lower pool.

From the Lower pool, it takes less than half an hour to reach the Middle pool this makes it less than 2 hour round trip from the base of the trail.

There is no formal trial leading from the Middle pool to the Upper pool. You will need to clamber over rocks and pick your way between trees and branches. generally, hike towards the right and slightly uphill. Other trails lead to the Emerald pools, so if you find yourself going downhill for a long time, then you might be on the wrong path.
Emerald Pool
Middle Pool is small but reflects the surrounding sky, rocks, and trees.

Emerald Pool
To reach the Upper pool, you will need to climb over rocks and pick your way through fallen trees and loose sand.

Upper Emerald Pool
Upper Emerald Pool: a person can be dwarfed by the sheer rock face and humbled by the reflective pool.

Upper Emerald Pool

From here, it takes about another half hour to get to the Upper pool. Thus the entire hike -there and back- from Zions Lodge to the Upper pool takes about 3 hours. Honestly, if you are a seasoned hiker and there was no foot traffic, you can get there and back in 2 hours.

Trail conditions vary from season to season. In some years, the trail is closed due to land slide or unsafe conditions. You can almost always reach the Lower pool and its waterfall, but access to the Middle pool and the Upper pool depends on Mother Nature. Ask your ranger about the trail conditions before you embark.

Ascent to the Upper pool is a little more challenging. There is no trail per say, just keep climbing up and follow the signs until you reach an open area at the base of a sheer cliff. The Upper pool again is not incredibly large, but it is very calm and the surrounding rockface embraces the pool like a bowl. It is secluded and pristine: stunning in its serenity.

zion More Zion National Park links:
   • Visitors Center
   • Zion Mountain Carmel Tunnel (drive through)
   • Weeping Rock trail (easy, 15 minute)
   • Zion Riverside Walk (easy, 2-mile walk)
   • Emerald Pool trail (pretty waterfalls)
   • Zion Canyon Overlook trail (panoramic view, steep drops)
   • Angels Landing trail (incredible height, dangerous drops)
   • map of Zion Canyon area

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