Zion National Park Hiking Trails: Emerald Pools Trail Hike
Trail name: Emerald Pools Trail
Location: Zion National Park
Difficulty: Easy, moderate, and strenuous hikes to three separate pools
Distance: 1.2, 2, or 3 miles round-trip
Total elevation gain: 70, 150, or 300 feet
Average time: 1–3 hours
Family-friendly: The hike to the lower pools is accessible by anyone, but the other two hikes are progressively more challenging
Dog-friendly: Dogs are not allowed.
Access to the west entrance
Driving north from St. George on Interstate 15, take exit 16. Driving south from Cedar City on I-15, take exit 20, continue to La Verkin, and turn onto State Route 9 toward Zion National Park.
Access to the east entrance
Take U.S. Route 89 to Mount Carmel Junction, then follow State Route 9 to Zion National Park’s east entrance.
Take the park shuttle to the Emerald Pools parking lot. If you are hiking in the afternoon, be sure not to miss the last shuttle back. You can check the Zion National Park shuttle schedule here.
Across the street from the Zion Lodge, you’ll find the trailhead to the Emerald Pools Trail. If you wish to access the lower pools first, choose the paved lower trail. Lined with cottonwoods and box elder trees, it’s a mere half-mile hike to the lower pools. Here you’ll find a lush understory described by the trail’s namesake where waterfalls cascade from the pools above, creating a refreshing mist that is particularly soothing during the heat of summer.
The trail continues behind the falls. simply continue onward to reach the next pools. The trail is no longer paved at this point and crosses the stream that empties into the first pools. The edges can be slick, so be mindful of children. While water from Behunin Canyon fills the first pools, water from the Heaps Canyon watershed fills the second. Enjoy a magnificent view of Red Arch Mountain from the middle pools.
The trail extends between the two middle pools toward the upper pool. Although the trail becomes steeper and more challenging here, it’s well worth the effort to make it to the top. Sandstone cliffs loom above a verdant paradise.
As always, remember to bring plenty of water, snacks, a camera, and sunscreen.