This is a short and potentially quick out-and-back hike, depending on how long you decide to stop at each pool. Given the high volume of visitors that flock to this attraction, the trail has been brandished with guardrails and barriers to keep both people and the natural environment safe.
Features: Birding — Cave — Fall Colors — Lake — River/Creek — Views — Waterfall — Wildflowers — Wildlife
Family Friendly: Short enough that almost any kid can complete it, but hard enough to make it rewarding, this hike ends at an awesome cascade the whole family can enjoy. The lower and middle pools are great, too.
Need to Know
This hike gets an easy rating due to the gradual grades and well-maintained nature of its paved paths. However, if you decide to visit the upper pool, the difficulty is much higher. The trail to the upper pool is steep, sandy and often very hot. Most tourists will turn around at the lower or middle pool.
From Zion Lodge, cross the footbridge that leads over the Virgin River. On the western bank, turn right onto the Lower Emerald Pools Trail
and follow it to the north for a quarter-mile above the river. The trail then turns westward into Heaps Canyon and parallels a stream to the first of the Emerald Pools
Enjoy the beauty of the cascade, which flows at varying rates depending on season and precipitation, and then continue on the trail to the middle pool. The middle pool is located on the cliff above the lower pool and feeds the falls. If you're feeling adventurous, hike up the steep and sandy Upper Emerald Pools Trail
to view the highest of the pools and another waterfall.
From here, either retrace your steps to Zion lodge or take the Kayenta Trail
to the Grotto picnic area.
Flora & Fauna
Immutable yet ever changing, the cliffs of Zion stand resolute, a glowing presence in late day, a wild calm. Melodies of waters soothe desert-parched ears, streams twinkle over stone, wren song cascades from red rock cliffs, cottonwood leaves jitter on the breeze. But when lightning flashes water falls erupt from dry cliffs, and floods flash down waterless canyons exploding log jams, hurling boulders, croaking wild joyousness, and dancing stone and water and time. Zion is alive with movement, a river of life always here and always changing.
The riparian area of the Virgin River supports enormous cottonwood trees and a diversity of herbaceous plants and grasses. Nearby, saturated wetlands make nice habitat for cattails, willows, aquatic plants, and rushes. Water seeping out of the Navajo sandstone creates tranquil springs and the unique â€œhanging gardensâ€ for which Zion is famous, full of ferns, wildflowers, and mosses.