The last stop that I made on my Zion adventure was the Emerald Pools hike. This is an easy and quick hike that is great for all ages and hiking abilities. There are three stops along the way; the lower, middle, and upper pools so you can plan your hike accordingly or hit all three for a 3 mile roundtrip hike. This is one of the parks most popular hikes so it gets very crowded on the narrow parts of the trail, but it is worth every busy step.
The trailhead begins across the road from the Zion Lodge. After crossing the footbridge, you'll follow along a paved trail shaded by cottonwood and elder trees. At 0.6 miles, you'll reach the lower pool. From there, the trail winds behind two waterfalls (or trickles if you come in a dry season as we did). Whatever the water level, it's a gorgeous trek below the falls and through the splashing water.
From the lower to middle pools, the trail becomes more rugged and narrow. From this point on, the hike was very crowded. Another 0.4 miles up, you reach the middle pools. As soon as the trail turns away from the lower pools there is also a sign for a side trail to the grotto which is 0.8 miles. Continuing to the middle pools, this area has incredible views of the surrounding mountains. Be aware if there's rushing water, you have small children, or there's lots of slippery moss and algae. Do not cross the chain to get near the ledge as we saw some hikers do! This area is not only fragile and protected but a very dangerous fall to the lower pools.
The final 0.5 miles to the upper pool is the most strenuous as it's all uphill. But to reach the gorgeous pool with massive canyon walls surrounding it is worth every inclined step. Because of the vast amount of visitors, swimming is no longer allowed in the pool but there are plenty of large boulders to relax and have a snack on. Occasionally, canyoneers can be seen repelling down the surrounding rock faces. This is a 3 mile out and back hike, so when you're ready, simply turn around and follow the trail back down. Watch the full episode on Emerald Pools and hiking The Narrows! [embed]https://youtu.be/6mnh0XnH3_o[/embed]
WHAT TO KNOW:
- Location: Zion National Park, near Springdale Utah
- Trailhead: Footbridge directly across from Zion Lodge
- No Permit Required
- Distance: 3 miles roundtrip; 0.6 miles to the lower pools, 1 mile to the middle pool, and 1.5 miles to the upper pool
- Elevation: 69' ascent to the lower pool, 150' ascent to the middle pools, and 350' ascent to upper pool.
- Difficulty: Lower pool - easy; middle pools - moderate; upper pool - moderate/strenuous
- Best Time to Hike: Year-round. I suggest on a weekday in spring for the best water level and least amount of crowds.
- What to Bring: Water and non-slip hiking shoes.
- NEED TO KNOW: Never cross the chains or go off the trail. Watch small children near ledges. Be aware of slippery surfaces when the water is high or moss is present.