Emerald Pools Trail

Emerald Pools Trail



This trail has a well-deserved reputation of being a family friendly, leisurely hike that introduces you to some of the beauty of Zion that requires just a bit of work to get to. It is one of the most popular trails in zion (and therefore one of the busiest!), but the green vegetation and ample water makes it a must-see.

Elevation Range:   349 ft
Low Elevation:   4276 ft
High Elevation:   4625 ft
Distance:   3.0 miles
Area:   Zion National Park
Cost:   $34 Zion National Park Entrance Fee
Rating:    (4.5)
Aerobic Intensity:    (2.0)
Technical Difficulty:    (2.0)
Scenery:    (4.0)
  1 ratings
Last Edited: Oct 03, 2016


Depending on the time of year you do this trail, you can either drive right to the trailhead or you can take the shuttle up the canyon.  Either way, make sure to get off or park at the lodge, and then cross over the street to the trailhead there.

There are several different trails that wind up at the emerald pools, but over the years many have become less used and there is now one primary route up through the pools.  From the trailhead, turn to the right and start walking as the trail goes along the Virgin River.  The trail is paved at the bottom and well-shaded, with plenty of trees and shrubs able to take advantage of the water in the area.

The trail eventually makes a turn to the left and starts heading away from the river, and after a short time you will get to the alcove surrounding the lower pool.  There is plenty of water that makes it over the sides of the short cliffs above you, and this is a great chance to get a little bit wet if it is a hot day.  The sandstone is dark in the spots where the water works its way over, and there are ferns, moss, and other greenery fed by the water.

The trail will wind around the bottom of the circular alcove, with varying amounts of water making it onto the trail from up above.  There are handrails on the trial, use them since it can get slick!  After exiting the alcove the trail will start going steeper upwards, with the paved trail ending and the trail tunring to dirt.  There are some steps made out of stone, and the trail starts switching back and forth until arriving at the middle pools.

The middle pools are a collection of pools where there is some standing water from various up-canyon water sources.  This water is what flows over and runs into the lower pools below.  Stay on the trail here, and enjoy what is starting to become an elevated viewpoint.  There is a steep fall below if you go over the edge of the cliff.

The last 3/4 mile segment of the trail is the toughest, but absolutely worth it.  The trail starts heading straight up the slope as a sandy trail with large rocks and boulders to work your way around.  Once you are within a couple hundred yards of the top, the trail gets even rockier as you have to work your way through some significant boulders and around some trees to get drop into the area of the upper pools.

Once through, you can enjoy the water flowing out of the hundred-foot waterfall and into the pool below.  If your timing is good, you can see canyoneers come out of heaps canyon at the same point, and rapell down into the pool below.

Have a snack, drink some water, enjoy the realtive coolness from the canyons around you, and then retrace your steps to return back.


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 Getting There

  • From I-15, take exit 16 (Hwy 9) towards Hurricane
  • After 12 miles, turn right to continue on Hwy 9
  • Travel 20 more miles until arriving at Zion National Park
  • Pay the entrance fee, and park. It can be hard to find a parking spot depending on the time of year; parking outside of the park and using the Springdale shuttle to enter may be the best option.
  • During off-season (approximately Oct. - Apr.), you can drive directly up the canyon and park at The Grotto Trailhead/Picnic Area.
  • If the canyon is closed to traffic, board the shuttles at the visitors center to get up the canyon and get off when they announce the Zion Lodge.
  • At the lodge, cross the street to the West, and cross the river over the bridge. Make a right, and there is the trail.


 Additional Information