Hiking Trails National Parks Travel

Zion National Park: Hiking Emerald Pools Trail and Staying Overnight in Springdale

Zion National Park Emerald Pools Springdale

After hiking Angels Landing, Julia and I continued to explore Zion National Park by making our way to the Zion Lodge and the Emerald Pools Trailhead. The Emerald Pools are on the West side of Zion Canyon, which meant we’d be hiking in the cool shade for the entirety of this trail.

There are three Emerald Pools, Lower, Middle, and Upper. This hike is a 2 mile out-and-back roundtrip with 350ft of elevation gain. 


Zion National Park Emerald Pools Springdale
Starting At Zion Lodge
Zion National Park Emerald Pools Springdale
Crossing The Bridge To Start The Trail

Leaving Zion Lodge, the trail crosses the Virgin River via a bridge and begins towards Lower Emerald Pool with a .6 miles stretch that is on a paved walkway. The majority of this trail is flat, with only a few short uphill patches, before descending below a waterfall and hanging garden.


Zion National Park Emerald Pools Springdale
Towards The Lower Pool

It was quite amazing to feel the scale and presence of the sandstone walls that rose like an amphitheater as we approached the Lower Emerald Pool. With water falling and dripping down the walls, I was enchanted by the peaceful and meditative sound only found in these nature environments. It was a fairly cool day with temperatures in the lower 40s. A small stretch of trail requires that you walk underneath the fall. Although it was cold, I really enjoyed feeling the spray of cold water that fell upon me.


Zion National Park Emerald Pools Springdale
Looking Up At The Fall
Zion National Park Emerald Pools Springdale
On The Trail

The trail begins a very gentle ascent after leaving Lower Emerald Pool to Middle Emerald Pool. The water that was falling down the sandstone walls in the Lower Pool, comes from the Middle Pool up above. It’s only a few short steps up on the trail to reach the Middle Pool.

There is a trail junction at this section that gives you two options. You can continue on towards the Upper Emerald Pool or head back towards the Grotto (The Angels Landing Trailhead). The trail towards the Grotto allows for a nice loop hike if you’re trying to avoid and out and back.


Zion National Park Emerald Pools Springdale
Looking Out Towards The Canyon
Zion National Park Emerald Pools Springdale
Middle Pool
Zion National Park Emerald Pools Springdale
Continuing On

The stretch of trail from the Middle Pool to the Upper Pool has the most uphill hiking on this hike. It’s hardly substantial though, and can be completed by anyone with even a moderate level of fitness. We saw a lot of children of all ages enjoying this hike.


Zion National Park Emerald Pools Springdale
Upper Pool
Zion National Park Emerald Pools Springdale
Walls Of The Upper Pool

After reaching the Upper Emerald Pool, we made our way back down on the same stretch of trail to reach the Zion Lodge. The afternoon fall colors were really starting to shine, which was nice given the amount of darkness and shade we had just hiked through. We spent a little more time exploring the park before making our way to the visitor center to buy some patches and stickers, and eventually left just before sundown.


Zion National Park Emerald Pools Springdale
Zion National Park
Zion National Park Emerald Pools Springdale
Fall Colors At the Zion Visitor Center

After driving as much as we had to get to Zion, we decided to stay as close to the park as we could manage. The town of Springdale is the support town for Zion National Park, just a few miles outside of the park gates. Thanks to this being the off season, we were able to get a pretty decent hotel right in the heart of Springdale.

I’m a very healthy eater by nature and tend to follow a very strict diet when I’m home. That all goes out of the window while I’m travelling though, as I like to eat out and enjoy as much fat, salt, and calorie rich meals as I can manage. For dinner, we ate at a place called Oscar’s Cafe, which turned out to be a real gem. I would highly recommend it if you’re stopping through Springdale on a visit to Zion National Park.


Zion National Park Emerald Pools Springdale
A Great Burger
Zion National Park Emerald Pools Springdale
Beautiful Views From Spingdale

After dinner, we made our way back to the hotel, and relaxed for a bit before planning our day ahead. In the morning, we would be getting and early start and driving to Bryce Canyon to take in the magnificent hoodoos!


I'm Drew, creator of Trail to Peak. Trail to Peak brings content to life on the web through breath-taking photography and captivating video. I launched Trail to Peak in 2014 with a goal to inspire readers to get outside and enjoy the great outdoors. I have traveled to 19 countries, walked Camino de Santiago, hiked the John Muir Trail, trekked through the Andes of Peru, and am constantly seeking new adventures in my home state of California. Joining me on my weekly adventures is my partner, Julia, our son, Owen, and our two goldendoodles, Isla and Lilly.

23 comments on “Zion National Park: Hiking Emerald Pools Trail and Staying Overnight in Springdale

  1. Great photos!
    I love Zion, my favorite national park.

  2. You hiked Angel’s Landing? RESPECT. I hiked to all three pools this summer and only a bit of Riverside Walk. I also really like your photos of everything 🙂

  3. i plan on going to zion national park next year, so this is a great little post for me to get a feel for it! i plan on hiking through the narrows.

  4. Wow, breathtaking! Fascinating landscape forms!

  5. Okay, this is now on my bucket list. What spectacular vistas and getting up close and personal with that canyon. Plus for someone like me it’s fitness-compatible. Thanks for posting!

  6. Looks absolutely stunning! The walking sounds wonderful and so does the food!

  7. This is the hike I did end up doing. All these photos are familiar to me. Thanks for sharing. I might dig up my old photos now and reminisce!

    • Thanks for reading! I’d be interested to see photos from other seasons and years, as I hear the flow of water was unusually low when we visited.

  8. Absolutely beautiful! Haven’t been there yet but definitely on the list.

  9. Ah, your pictures are stunning! I wish we’d gotten to see the Emerald Pools on our visit to Zion. Your pictures are unforgettable.

  10. That’s a lovely hiking trail with lots of picturesque sights to see. 🙂

  11. Such a nice place ! I love it so much ! Zion is one of the best park ever ! I did narrows and angel’s landing, awesome trails ! Nice job !

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