The Lower Emerald Pool is an easy hike in Zion National Park along a paved walking trail to a waterfall flowing into an emerald pool of water. After crossing the Virgin River on a fun half-moon bridge, the Emerald Pools trail begins to climb slowly up the side of the mountain through a well-treed patch of forest.
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There are lots of rocks for your kids to climb on the Lower Emerald Pool trail, but beware the steep drop-offs down the side of the mountain.
The Lower Emerald Pool trail ends in dramatic fashion at the multi-stream waterfall, which falls into the pool from a rock ledge above the trail.
The Lower Emerald Pool Trail is such a fun thing to do in Zion with kids because the hiking trail continues along the rock wall and actually takes you behind the waterfall.
Prepare to get wet; your kids will think this is awesome!
The water in the emerald pool below the waterfall wasn’t emerald as advertised, but the hanging gardens surrounding the pool make this a special place and one of the best easy Zion hikes.
The Zion Emerald Pools are a great place to come to escape the hot Zion National Park weather.
Lower Emerald Pool Trail Stats
How Long is the Lower Emerald Pool Trail?
The round trip distance of this short Zion hike is 1 mile / 1.6 km.
How Steep is the Lower Emerald Pool Hike?
The Lower Emerald Pool Trail has a mild incline the entire way, but overall has very little elevation gain. Over the course of 1 mile, we only gained 69 feet / 21m in elevation.
How Hard is the Lower Emerald Pool Trail?
This popular Zion hiking trail is short and flat enough to be ranked “easy”. Our 3 & 5 year old kids easily did the entire Emerald Pools trail themselves, even after walking the entire Riverside Walk themselves.
How Long will the Lower Emerald Pool Hike Take?
Hiking to the Lower Emerald Pool with kids took us 1.5 hours to complete, which is a little slower than our usual hiking pace. There were lots of large rocks along the side of the trail for our kids to climb on, which made for some pretty slow going at times.
Without kids, we could have completed the Lower Emerald Pool trail in about 30 minutes.
Lower Emerald Pool Location
To find a Zion National Park parking spot, you’ll need to arrive quite early in the day, especially during peak times. We arrived at Zion at 8am on a Sunday in April and the lot was nearly full.
If you aren’t an early riser, you can take a free shuttle bus from many spots in the town of Springdale to the park gates. There are plenty of paid parking spaces in Springdale, but these too fill up early during peak times.
Between spring and fall, there are no private cars allowed on Scenic Drive within Zion National Park. The park operates a free shuttle bus service instead, which takes you to the major spots within the park.
The Lower Emerald Pool trailhead is located across the street from the Zion Lodge (Shuttle Stop 5). To find it, walk away from the Zion Lodge, follow the crowds and you’ll find it no problem.
Lower Emerald Pool Trail Highlights
There are several special viewpoints on the Zion Emerald Pools hike:
- At several spots along the Lower Emerald Pools hike, there are breaks from the dense forest trees, providing an opportunity to enjoy some pretty amazing vistas of Zion Canyon. Our kids liked to stop and look at the views of the canyon with the binoculars we brought along.
- As mentioned above, your kids will love getting wet as they walk behind the waterfall. Even for adults, the opportunity to walk behind a waterfall is pretty rare and is a fun experience.
- You can see some of Zion’s famous hanging gardens clinging to the rock face around the Emerald Pools waterfall.
Hiking Lower Emerald Pool Trail with Kids
- There are bathrooms and a water filling station for your hydration packs near Shuttle Stop 5 (Zion Lodge).
- This easy Zion hiking trail is paved the entire way. You can wear just about anything you’d like on your feet for this hike, but flip-flops may be a bit uncomfortable for this slightly uphill walk.
- This is a good hike to escape the heat at Zion National Park. The trees along this trail provide a decent amount of shade, so be prepared for cooler temperatures than the forecast calls for.
- This kid-friendly Zion hiking trail is stroller accessible, but the vast majority of parents hiking this trail had their kids in a backpack carrier.
- No dogs are allowed on this trail.
Where to Stop for Lunch or a Break
There weren’t many spots we could see along the trail to comfortably have lunch. The area near the Emerald Pools waterfall is quite pretty, but if you want to stop and enjoy the view, you’ll need to stand and share space with a ton of other people.
We’d recommend just having a snack by the waterfall and wait to have lunch when the hike is done.
The Zion Lodge has a cafeteria with outdoor seating. If you pack your own lunch, find some shade from one of the massive trees and spread out a picnic blanket on the huge grass lawn in front of the Zion Lodge.
Zion Hiking Safety
- The sun can get intense in southern Utah, so bring more water than you think you will need. Hydration backpacks were very popular with hikers in the park.
- There are some dangerous drop-offs on this trail without handrails, so watch your kids ones closely.
What to Bring
- Hiking hats
- Hydration packs for the adults and kids
- High-energy hiking snacks
- A small garbage bag to carry out your trash
Other Kid-Friendly Zion Canyon Hikes
If you are looking for additional easy, kid-friendly hikes in Zion National Park, we suggest taking a look at easy Zion hikes with kids:
- Hiking Weeping Rock Trail with kids
- Hiking Grotto Trail with kids
- Hiking Pa’rus Trail with kids
- Riverside Walk in Zion with kids.
Other more-challenging, yet very do-able kid-friendly Zion hikes you may enjoy are:
- Enjoy the cooler air and pine forests while hiking Northgate Peaks Trail
- Break a sweat for some incredible views on the Watchman Trail
If you have an adventurous parent in the family, consider treating them to a day without kids while they hike Angels Landing, while the other parent spends an enjoyable day with the kids doing some of the easier kid-friendy hikes in Zion.
Zion National Park with Kids
For more things to do in Zion with kids, family friendly Zion hotels and campgrounds, visit our Zion National Park with Kids post.
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