Not all hikes were created the same – at least not in Zion National Park. While Zion’s most famous hike – Angel’s Landing – is a signature for the park and a staple for those traveling far to get the most out of their trip, Angel’s Landing might not be for everyone coming to this desert paradise. For small children, the elderly, pregnant women, those with a fear of heights, or even just those with poor balance, Angel’s Landing isn’t recommended. Although the hike is traversed by hundreds of thousands every year, and only a few deaths have occurred in the last ten years, it’s better to stay on the safe side when safety is in question.
Visitors can still experience the beauty of Zion without the danger or strenuous conditions. A popular hike for families and groups is Zion’s Emerald Pools hike – a trail leading to three different pools of water tucked against the colorful mountains of the park. This mild hike is perfect in the summer when it’s hot out, but with warmer temperatures, expect larger crowds on this hike. Often described as an oasis in the desert, this trail is lush and shady, at the base of towering white and red sandstone mountains.
Lower Pools of the Hike
The entirety of the hike is 3 miles round trip, but since the pools are spread out, you can choose how far you go before turning around. The first pool is under a half mile from the start of the hike, which starts at the Zion Lodge and continues along the Virgin River. The Lower Pools is the easiest to get to, with the Middle Pools isn’t far from the Lower Pools, but is slightly harder to get to. The Upper Pools is the most difficult to get to (but still an easy, mild hike compared to others in the park). The last ¼ mile stretch is not shaded and usually hot, but doesn’t last long and is worth the effort once you get to the final pool. Waterfalls dot the area, and this is the perfect spot for you to take a break or eat lunch at a scenic location before heading back down. The hike is paved the entire way, and depending on your pace, takes anywhere between 2-4 miles round trip.
Here are some tips for if you plan to do Emerald Pools:
-Morning is the best time for this trip
-Spring and fall, when the trail is less busy, is a great time of year to go. The water can be murky during the summer.
-Bring sun screen, plenty of water, and a lunch for a picnic on the trail.
-The Lower Pools is accessible by stroller and wheelchair
-The round trip distance to the Lower Pools is 1.2 miles, 2 miles to the Middle, and 3 miles to the Upper.
For more info on the Emerald Pools or Zion National Park, visit nps.gov.