June 10, 2014 by Deborah W. Trotter
Hiking to one, or two, or all three of the Emerald Pools is a very popular way to get off the shuttle buses and onto the trail in Zion National Park. Conveniently located just across the road and the River from Zion Lodge, the trail has something for everyone. But it’s a different experience each time you do it, and you never know exactly what you will find.
Last month when we visited Zion, we hiked to all three pools as a warm up for our hike up Angels Landing later in the day. Having done this more than once in the past, we knew the drill. Lower Emerald Pool is .6 miles, Middle Emerald Pool is 1.0 miles, and Upper Emerald Pool is a slightly strenuous half mile beyond that.
As per usual, we got a cool misting at the lower pool from the water coming off the rocks above the trail,
we took in the view out into Zion Canyon from the middle pool,
and we relaxed in the shade that was just descending over the upper pool as the sun retreated behind the surrounding edge of the canyon.
Different that day from previous visits were the frogs frolicking in the shallows of the middle pool,
and the timing of our arrival at the upper pool that afforded a reflection photo opportunity, as fleeting as it was lovely.
There was also less water in the pools that day than we have seen at other times, and it lacked any emerald hues.
When we left Upper Emerald Pool, we decided to try something new, and, instead of retracing our steps, we took the Kayenta Trail one mile north along the Canyon wall to the next shuttle bus stop. The trail is mostly level and as you hike along above the Virgin River, you have endless views of the Canyon, accented that early May day by magenta prickly pear cactus blooms.
I will never tire of spending time in Zion National Park. It is small, and therefore crowded during common vacation times, but it is open all year round. The off-season beckons.