Zion National Park: Lower Emerald Pool

This easy, 1.5-mile dayhike skirts the canyon-carving Virgin River en route to an algae-tinted desert oasis and a dripping, 100-foot waterfall.
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This easy, 1.5-mile dayhike skirts the canyon-carving Virgin River en route to an algae-tinted desert oasis and a dripping, 100-foot waterfall.

This easy hike to the Lower Emerald Pool begins at the Zion Lodge shuttle stop and rounds the northern edge of a giant lawn before crossing the park road toward the official trailhead. Stop to orient yourself at the map kiosk before hoofing it over the Virgin River's footbridge and beginning the gradual 0.6-mile northbound climb to the Lower Emerald Pool.
The paved trail skirts the river for 300 yards and turns sharply left, continuing under the maple and shrub-shaded canopy. Keep your eyes on the trail as you climb: there are several sections where hillside erosion has left an abrupt edge hanging several feet above the ground. This out-and-back ends at an overlook of the algae-tinted lower pool and a towering 100-foot overhanging waterfall that drips—and sometimes rages—over the trail. Use the handrails to explore the muddy, trailside oasis before turning back toward the lodge. If you have the time and energy, consider continuing to the middle and upper pools and completing the entire 2.6-mile loop trail.
-Mapped by Kristy Holland

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 2.5

Waypoints

LEP001

Location: 37.251903, -112.956018

This hike begins at the Zion Lodge shuttle stop. Turn right off the bus, stop to fill water bottles and use the toilets if necessary, and head west along the edge of the giant lawn.

LEP002

Location: 37.251058, -112.957939

Though traffic on the park road is generally light, watch for cyclists, shuttle buses, and even wildlife on the road as you cross to reach the Emerald Pools Trailhead.

LEP003

Location: 37.251068, -112.95903

This bridge spans the Virgin River and marks the beginning of the loop trail that leads to all three of the Emerald Pools. This mapped route turns right on the bridge's west side and proceeds to the nearest of the three seep- and spring-fed pools.

LEP004

Location: 37.253475, -112.95795

As the paved trail turns away from the river, it continues the gentle climb. Watch your footing as the trail's right side drops downhill (very abruptly in some places).

LEP005

Location: 37.256855, -112.962575

An interpretive display explains the natural history of the pools and offers an overlook toward the green, murky water 40 feet below the trail.

LEP006

Location: 37.257412, -112.962617

Above the pool, a 100-foot waterfall drips year-round toward the lower pool, but after heavy rains or during spring runoff, there is a thundering cascade. From this turnaround point, the trail continues north toward the Middle and Upper Emerald Pools (0.3 and 0.6 mile further up the trail).

LEP007

Location: 37.251451, -112.955825

The Zion Lodge has restroom facilities, a cafe, restaurant, and lodging for park visitors. It's a great place to stop and rest before tackling other Zion dayhikes.

Drip Fall

Location: 37.257369, -112.962874

Looking east and south toward the trail's beginning from underneath the dripping fall. © Kristy Holland

Trail Sign

Location: 37.251681, -112.956512

To reach the trail to the Emerald Pools, follow the signed sidewalk back toward the park road. © Kristy Holland

Road Crossing

Location: 37.251049, -112.957832

Emerald Pools crosswalk just west of the Zion Lodge. © Kristy Holland

Bridge

Location: 37.251032, -112.95884

This bridge connects the Emerald Pools loop with the trailhead, on opposite sides of the Virgin River. © Kristy Holland

Edges

Location: 37.254636, -112.959269

The edges of this paved trail drop sharply downhill. Watch your step as you wind along the shaded trail. © Kristy Holland

Mud

Location: 37.257283, -112.962831

Use handrails to navigate the muddy trail beneath the dripping overhang. © Kristy Holland

Lower Emerald Pool

Location: 37.257181, -112.962745

This spring- and seep-fed pool is the lowest and most accessible of the three. © Kristy Holland

Lawn

Location: 37.251084, -112.956501

This giant lawn in front of the Zion Lodge is a good spot to relax and recover after the hike. © Kristy Holland

Riverside

Location: 37.252638, -112.958389

The gentle incline above the Virgin River. © Kristy Holland

Junction

Location: 37.251169, -112.959162

This mapped route follows the 0.6-mile trail north toward the Lower Emerald Pool. © Kristy Holland

Overhang

Location: 37.257147, -112.962724

The softer, lower layers of this sandstone cliff eroded first and created an overhang and waterfall above the lower pool. © Kristy Holland