Good grief!! Barely April and already there's a traffic jam at the gate.
There are two shuttle routes: one from Springdale into the park, and another on the Zion Canyon Loop. We rode the park shuttle to the end, took some pictures, then rode another one back to the stop at The Grotto to start our hike.
We'd hiked to Emerald Falls before, but had never gone beyond the lower pool. We decided to take the Kayenta Trail up to the upper pools, then loop back down another trail back to Zion Lodge. After crossing the Virgin River and taking the requisite pictures of Angel's Landing, we turned left onto the trail.
The view is always dramatic and impressive in Zion, although this day the sky wasn't always as cooperative as I'd like. As long as I'm looking up anyway, I want perfect blue sky as background.
Total elevation gain is only about 350', even to get to the Upper Pools. The round trip loop is about 3 miles, so that's not bad--even for old people like us. There was a steady stream of people heading up and back down. Here we were on one side of a little canyon and could see across to Lower Emerald Falls--that would be the bottom ridge where that black smudge is in the picture.
Eventually the Kayenta Trail met up with the Emerald Pools Trails-- plural because there are three levels, whimsically named Upper Pools, Middle Pools and Lower Pools. We continued up the Middle Emerald Pools Trail. This is another view of the Lower Emerald waterfall, still from a long ways away. This time you can see the water running down the black smudge in the middle.
The pictures I've chosen don't show all the people that were on the trails. Some were going the same way we were, but as many were coming back. Eventually, climbing up steps, then going down others, we ended up at the Middle Emerald Pools, where we shouldn't have been surprised to see the crowds of people.
We wended our way through the throngs and continued to where we could actually see the pools. That's plural again because there are two Middle Emerald Pools. Continuing with the naming convention, one is the Upper Pool and one is the Lower Pool. Haven't a clue which one they call this, but it's pretty.
Above one of the middle pools is a waterfall--it's another black smudge just below the notch.
It's only another .3 mile to the Upper Pool. When you get there, there's a barricade to help cut down on the tourist mortality rate.
That's the pretty view. Directly behind you is the Upper Emerald Pool, not quite so nice.
We were planning to take the Middle Emerald Pools Trail from here down to Zion Lodge, but heavy winter floods washed part of it out. That meant we had to backtrack to the Middle Emerald Pools and go down that way. The trail leads under Lower Emerald Fall. This is one of the few places where there are railings.
The other trails were rocky and unpaved. The Lower Emerald Pools Trail is paved, and it's a little over 1/2 mile down to Zion Lodge across another bridge over the Virgin River. I stood on the bridge and took a picture up river, then turned around and took another one.
Would I come back to Zion? Of course. But before I do, we're going to Snow Canyon State Park.
In the meantime, click for more pictures of this trip. Zion Natl Park