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Upper Emerald Pool

Hurricane, Utah

based on 22 reviews



2.92 miles

Elevation Gain

600 ft

Route Type



Added by Mariya Dondonyan

Walk along this waterfall path that opens up to beautiful views of the canyon at Zion. The Upper Emerald pool makes for a great photo opportunity.

Start this trail walking across the bridge over the Virgin River into the start of the trails that lead to the pools. The path takes you through the bottoms of the water falls and you see them falling over the rocks above you. Though this sight may be totally awesome, be careful as you walk along the path as it gets really muddy and slippery. But there are rails to help you along the way you can grab a hold on.

The trail leading to the Upper Emerald Pool is on the ridge between the two middle pools. This is where the trail becomes more rugged and steep. From the Middle Trail, a steep trail continues up the canyon up to the Upper Pool. The upper pool is larger, with a high waterfall coming into it from a towering cliff. Once you get to the top of the Upper Emerald pool, enjoy your view, take a photo, then find a boulder and enjoy a nice snack.

The Upper Emerald Pool trail is located in Zion National Park in southwestern Utah. At 1.2 miles roundtrip, it makes for a great short hike to see some of the park's iconic sandstone cliffs and refreshing waterfalls. The trail starts from the Grotto Picnic Area and crosses over the Virgin River on a footbridge before following alongside the river. Handrails help hikers navigate any slippery sections. The turnoff for the Upper Emerald Pool is about halfway up, and climbs steeply 0.5 miles up into the hanging valley. The 60-foot waterfall flowing into the picturesque pool creates excellent photo opportunities. The trail is open year-round and dog-friendly, though pets must be leashed. Park entry does require a fee paid at the entrance gate or online ahead of time.

For the return trip, you can either take the loop back to the Lodge or simply retrace your path. After enjoying the views from the Upper Pool, hikers can complete the loop trail back to the Grotto Picnic Area and Zion Lodge, or turn around and return the same way they came up. This scenic and refreshing short hike is suitable for hikers of all skill levels looking to see some of Zion's iconic canyon landscapes. If you're looking for a challenging hike in Zion? The Angels Landing trail is a must-try!

Here are some additional details about the Upper Emerald Pools trail:

  • The pools get their emerald color from algae growing in the water. This gives the pools a distinct vivid green hue.
  • The trail is paved and mostly flat until the junction for the Upper Emerald Pools. This makes it accessible for people with strollers or mobility devices.
  • During the heat of summer, the shade and mist from the waterfalls help cool hikers down. It's noticeably cooler up by the pools.
  • Wildlife like mule deer, squirrels, lizards and various bird species are sometimes spotted along the trails or drinking from the pools.
  • Sunrise and sunset are beautiful times to visit and photograph the pools when the light reflects off the cliffs.
  • Winter time when the pools are partially frozen over creates unique ice formations and photo opportunities.
  • The Upper Emerald Pools trail sees less crowds than other major Zion hikes like Angels Landing. It's a good option for those looking to avoid crowds.
  • Flash floods are a danger in the narrow canyons after heavy rainfall. Check weather before hiking and avoid during storms.
  • Permits are not required for day hikes, only for overnight backpacking trips into Zion's backcountry.

Upper Emerald Pools are definitely an unforgettable experience for visitors. If you have the chance to see the area, I would highly recommend the time to hike it.

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Upper Emerald Pool Reviews

Not sure which I liked better. Emerald Pools or Angeles Landing. Both are very popular, and well worth it.

This is a short hike in Zion Canyon close to the lodge. It's a popular hike among visitors and for good reason. It's a short hike but it's beautiful.

Hike along the river in Zion National Park. This trail starts off relatively flat but gets steeper near the end. I love trails by a river.

Easy, pretty hike. It's a short one in Zion, so it's popular and filled with people. I would compare it to a crowded hike in Yosemite. Nice hike to do if you arrive into Zion with only a few hours to explore on your first day!

I’ve done this hike a couple times now. One of my favorites the pools are beautiful!

It was a pretty intense hike up to the upper emerald pool. The hike takes you past the lower and middle emerald pools to the upper. The waterfalls and pools along the way were worth it!

Leave No Trace

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