Emerald Pools is a Zion classic: an oasis in the middle of the desert. The hike is a collection of short trails that meander past a small, lushly-vegetated stream that rolls down from the cliffs and forms several interesting "pools." If you have only two hours to spend on a leisurely non-strenuous hike this is highly recommended. As this hike is not very difficult and it is located just across from the Zion Lodge, this trail gets crowded in the summer months, so be prepared to share the views with many other people. There are three pools: LOWER EMERALD POOLS -- In less than half a mile, the vegetation becomes more lush and the trail makes its way along a tall alcove under two tall waterfalls and the pools below. MIDDLE EMERALD POOLS -- Beyond the alcove, the trail gets more difficult and steps up and around to bring you on top of the cliff that you just walked under. The middle "pools" are the streams that form the waterfalls. This section is quite beautiful. UPPER EMERALD POOL -- The final stretch is a hot and sandy quarter mile, but it is well worth the effort to get to the final pool at the base of the 300-foot cliffs above. Most of the time, you can see a faint waterfall coming from the mouth of Heaps Canyon far above. The entirety of the hike is through riparian habitat surrounded by mixed oak and juniper woodland. On the cliffs above are some Ponderosa forest as well as dry desert hillsides.
The pool don't boast a huge bird list but all the typical canyon specialties can usually be found here. Species typical of the canyon like BLACK-THROATED GRAY WARBLER, PLUMBEOUS VIREO, and CORDILLERAN FLYCATCHER can be seen here. CANYON and ROCK WREN are often heard singing while WHITE-THROATED SWIFT and VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOW flutter overhead. CALIFORNIA CONDOR have also been seen soaring overhead form this location with the more common TURKEY VULTURES and the occasional PEREGRINE FALCON. BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK, YELLOW WARBLER, and HOUSE WREN are 3 of the most common species found here during the summer months and can usually be heard singing or seen right along the trail. PAINTED REDSTART have been reported here but this is not one of their usual haunts. The birding is easy and you're likely to see plenty on this hike. Some surprise finds here during the winter months include both COMMON and RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS on these tiny ponds.
All Zion National Park hot spots directions in Zion Canyon, or to the east will originate from the visitor center parking lot for consistency. Anything in the north and west sides of the park will come from the nearest major intersection. Catch the Zion Canyon Schedule at any pick up locations inside or outside the park. Stay on the shuttle until you reach the Zion Lodge Stop. Follow the signs to the trail on the opposite side of the road that lead to the pools.