Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Lower Emerald Pools (Zion National Park)



Lower Emerald Pools

Overview:
The trail to the Lower Emerald Pools is a beautiful trail offering views of the Virgin River and the stunning cottonwoods along the river banks. Though the Lower Pools are just farther than one mile from the trailhead, this is an easy hike because it's a relatively flat trail with only a 70 foot elevation gain. This journey mimics that of Weeping Rock owing to the many places along the way where water flows through the Navajo Sandstone and under the trail. Don't try and drink any of the water along the way because it contains a harmful bacteria, and don't try to feed or play with the squirrels as they are wild animals prone to bite anyone who gets too close.

Note: There is a park entrance fee of $25 to enter Zion National Park, and swimming is not allowed in the Lower, Middle, or Upper Emerald Pools.

Trailhead:
  • From St. George

  • Head north on the I-15

  • Exit the freeway on exit 16 onto SR 9 East towards Hurricane/Zion National Park

  • After 12.1 miles, take a right on SR 9, 500 N in LaVerkin

  • Follow this road for 21 miles till you arrive at the entrance of Zion National Park

  • From April to October, Park at the museum and the shuttle will take you to the Zion Lodge stop

GPS: 37.250714, -112.959553
Distance: 1.2 miles out and back
Difficulty: 1
Hike Time: 30 minutes - 1 hour
Trail Condition: Well marked and well maintained
Season: Early Spring to late Fall

Detailed Description:
The easiest way to access the Lower Emerald Pools is via the trailhead at Zion Lodge. Cross over the bridge, and follow the signs. Zion National Park is one of the most popular national parks in Utah, so expect to run into crowds, especially on this hike, because being across the street from the lodge, and being a relatively easy hike to a very beautiful destination makes it one of the more popular hikes in Zion. The crowds are even more prevalent if you come on free national park weekend like I did.

When you arrive at Lower Emerald Pools, you can walk under a small waterfall caused by the Middle Pools, so be prepared for a slight soaking. There also is quite a bit of vegetation growing in the area under the falls reminiscent of a desert oasis. Swimming is prohibited in the pools, but you can still cool off under the waterfall if you need to. If you have time, visit the Middle Emerald Pool and Upper Emerald Pool. Thsee hikes are a bit more challenging because of the added elevation gains, but if you can make it, you'll discover more natural beauty you won't want to miss!

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