Saturday, April 4, 2009

Emerald Pools Loop Trail, Zion National Park, Utah

This is one of the more popular hikes in Zion National Park (easy-to moderately difficult) to three pools (lower, middle and upper), with small trickling waterfalls that feed them, and the fern rich oases that thrive at each pool.

There are a couple options for trails to take starting at the trailhead - you can see all the pools and see views of Zion Canyon via the upper segment of the loop trail, or you can take the lower segment of the loop trail to see one or all of the pools, and then come out the same way. We decided to do the entire loop trail, which was only a couple miles. The quickest route to the lower pools is the paved (accessible) trail to the right after you cross the bridge over the Virgin River. This trail follows the river and gradually climbs 70 feet working its way back into this small side canyon until you reach Lower Pools. The trail continues behind the recess of the waterfall that feeds this pool and offers great views out into Zion Canyon and mountains opposite this side canyon. The pool itself was small and really didn’t have an emerald color, but perhaps during a different time of the year, the pool looks more emerald in color. We did see some nice looking algae, however, that had some emerald color…………

Heading onto Middle Emerald Pool, the hike itself became more interesting, as we had to climb over rocks, a bit, and through a short, narrow canyon. This part was not paved, and thus less people. The Middle Emerald pool is actually atop the Lower Emerald Pool, and the waterfall created by the middle pool is the water that “rains” into the Lower Pool. If you head to the Middle emerald Pools, be sure you take a very short detour away from the cliffs-side and see the more beautiful piece of the Middle Pool – this one actually had an emerald color to it (somewhat). The choice here is to continue on the loop and head back to the trailhead, or walk 1/3 of a mile to Upper Emerald Pool, which is what we did.

Upper pool is the larges of the pools, and the most fun to hike to, see it’s over lots of rocks, has narrow passages, and even less people go this far. Again, not emerald when we were there, there was a bit of snow remaining from the last snowfall, a sandy beach, and lots of water. This is probably a great place to picnic (and perhaps swim) in the summer months.

Continuing back on the trail, you need to go down the 1/3 mile back to the loop trail, which then descends rapidly to the “other side” of the bridge. From here there are great views of the Virgin River, as well as the mountains which made Zion famous.

This is a definite hike for those visiting Zion, but it is busy, so be sure to go in early morning or late afternoon.

1 comment:

Jerry and Suzy said...

You guys do a wonderful job of (1) getting to places worth seeing, (2) taking and showing clear, sharp pictures to get us tantalized, and (3) telling your story to make it even more inviting! We are still looking forward to meeting you in person (sorry we slipped past each other in Benson). And again, thank you for remembering to mention accessibility!

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