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Emerald Pools Trail

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Closed due to bridge closure at Zion Lodge. Take Kayenta Trail to Emerald Pools instead.

The Emerald Pools are a beautiful highlight in Zion National Park. If you want to keep this short and easy go to this post on Lower Emerald Pool. It is only an extra moderate mile to add in the Middle and Upper Emerald Pools, so this post will all three of them.

Beginning in May 2023, the bridge across the Virgin River at Zion Lodge is closed, so the Kayenta Trail from The Grotto is currently the only route there.

Getting Around in Zion National Park

Zion National Park has a shuttle system and cars are not allowed in the main canyon unless they are staying in the Zion Lodge. You can drive the scenic drive towards the east entrance.

Zion Shuttle System

The shuttles in Springdale and in the main canyon make for a great experience to be able to hop on and ff the shuttle and not have to fight for parking. Get off at #5, the Zion Lodge Stop.


This map is helpful to see how the traditional trail and Kayenta Trail arrive at the Emerald Pools Trails. Lower and Upper Emerald Pools are the highlights, but there is also Middle Emerald Pool at the start of the red trail.

This post is explaining the easiest green trail, the begins at Zion Lodge and heads up the Lower Emerald Pool Trail and then continuing on the red trail to Middle and Upper Emerald Pool Trail, which would add one moderate mile round trip.

Grotto Trailhead

Begin your hike at the Zion Lodge. You might find wildlife like mule deer and grey foxes if you are there near sunrise or sunset.

Cross the road and the bridge and then take the trail that switchbacks up on the far side of the bridge. The first is a view from near the beginning of the trail across from the lodge. The second is actually from the Kayenta Trail looking over at the Emerald Pools Trail. Can you see the lower ledge of the canyon and then below it is a straight path that is the roughly paved trail to Lower Emerald Pool?

I have hiked in multiple times, but before I had a hiking blog, so I didn’t take many pictures. This trip this trail is closed. Here is a photo from Joe Braun on the trail to Emerald Pools from the Zion Lodge.

Lower Emerald Pool

It is only 0.6 miles to the Lower Emerald Pool. The Emerald Pools is a classic Zion hike, so it can get crowded. Go early in the day to beat the heat and have fewer people on the trail.

The Lower Emerald Pool is in incredible spot! The falls are best in the spring and right after rain. Almost all the time there is a little mist that sprays you as you go under the falls.

It’s refreshing on a hot day to go under the falls.

Head around the corner to the right under the falls. Some of the people in these photos are headed back the way you came.

To your right there will be a viewpoint of the Lower Emerald Pool.

Middle Emerald Pool

To continue on you need to head up the stairs to the left that go between the rocks.

The trail heads slowly uphill with a few little steps to help with erosion.

Middle Emerald Pools isn’t quite as impressive, but still lovely.

Upper Emerald Pool

Head up the path towards the Upper Emerald Pool.

Along the way there are some beautiful views looking out of the canyon.

I also saw this sphinx moth caterpillar near the trail.

Here is the Upper Emerald Pool and the tiny misty waterfall flowing into it.

My family has grown in the eight years between these photos!

When I had younger kids they loved playing in the soft sand here!

There is plenty of shade and lots of rocks to sit on near the Upper Emerald Pools so it’s a great place to take a break.

Stats to Emerald Pools: Distance – 2.2 miles round trip
Approximate hiking time – 60-90 minutes
Elevation gain – 269 feet
Difficulty – Moderate 
Trail – Trail roughly paved with a few stairs, then packed dirt with rocks
Bathrooms – At trailhead
Seasons to hike – Year-Round (use micro-spikes in winter)
Permits needed – $35/vehicle for 7-day pass or National Parks Pass
Pets allowed – No


We have so much beauty in Utah to explore! I love hiking and photography and can help you find your next favorite hike! All photos were taken by me!

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