ZION: Emerald Pools, The Narrows, Canyon Overlook & Watchman Trails

To intro these hikes, first get your bearings on the park map…

Zion Map

Emerald Pools:   This hike has something for everyone.  The first part to the lower pool is an easy hike that is relatively level.  The second part to the middle pool is more difficult with a steeper climb, and the third portion to the upper of the three pools is even more steep with lots of steps.  The total elevation gain is around 400 feet, if you go all the way to the upper pool; and I believe the total hiking distance is under 3 miles.  Due to the elevation change and the shade, this trail is cooler on those hot days than most of the other trails.

Your first few steps take you on a bridge over the Virgin River.

Your first few steps take you on a bridge over the Virgin River.

The waterfall above the first emerald pool.

The waterfall above the first emerald pool.

The first emerald pool. Not very emerald while we were there - maybe better in the Spring???

The first emerald pool. Not very emerald while we were there – maybe better in the Spring???

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The walk around the first emerald pool and under the waterfall!

The walk around the first emerald pool and under the waterfall!

The steeper climb!

The steeper climb!

The second emerald pool. Again, not really emerald.

The second emerald pool. Again, not really emerald.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The third and final emerald pool.

The third and final emerald pool.

From the third pool, looking out in to the canyon.

From the third pool, looking out in to the canyon.

 

 

 

 

 

The trip back down.

The trip back down.

 

Be sure to cool down those barking dogs in the Virgin River at the bottom of your hike!

Be sure to cool down those barking dogs in the Virgin River at the bottom of your hike!

The Narrows:  Zion is famous for this hike where the trail is the actual Virgin River. You walk the river bed.  The typical Narrows hike begins at the final Shuttle stop – the Temple of Sinawava and you may hike about 2.5 miles up the River.  If you are interested in doing the entire Narrows, you need to have a permit, additional gear, and I believe the trail is around 16 miles starting at the North end and making your way to the Temple of Sinawava.  This is another trail that is much cooler, as it is shaded and the water temp is cool.  Since we were there in September, the water temp was refreshing, but not cold.  We were completely comfortable walking it in the evening.  We wanted to do this trail during the week in the hopes that it would be less crowded, but the forecast was calling for the storms that ended up creating the flash flooding.  So, we did it over the weekend while there was no chance of flash floods.

The river spreads from canyon wall to canyon wall. Do not take this trail if there is even a chance of a flash flood.

The river spreads from canyon wall to canyon wall. Do not take this trail if there is even a chance of a flash flood.

Hanging gardens on the canyon walls.

Hanging gardens on the canyon walls.

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Its uniqueness makes this a very popular trail.

Its uniqueness makes this a very popular trail.

Canyon Overlook:  This trail begins at the eastern entrance to the long tunnel in the Eastern part of the park.  It is a short hike and features steep drop offs and of course the overlook view at the end.

Yep, that is a rickety wooden bridge along the cliff for you to walk on.

Yep, that is a rickety wooden bridge along the cliff for you to walk on.

Canyon Overlook Trail 1

Is the view worth it? I think so.

Is the view worth it? I think so.

Watchman Trail:  The trail begins near the Visitor Center and climbs The Watchman mountain for a view of the town of Springdale at the park’s south entrance.  We did this hike after the flash flood, and it was a little eery.  There were so many places on the trail where the sediment had been washed across the trail, and we felt uncertain looking up at the steep cliffs knowing that the sediment that had held the rocks in place was now gone.  To make matter worse, we passed the Search & Rescue Team on our way in to the park who were still searching at Keyhole Canyon; and there was a helicopter in the valley at this hike that was taking off and then coming back to land multiple times.  So, we called it quits a little early.  We made the elevation, but did not continue across the mountain for the other view.  Our instincts were correct.  A few weeks later we were talking to a couple in Arches National Park, and they said that the eastern entrance to Zion was closed due to a severe landslide.  I do not know the details, but after that rain and flash flooding occurred, it is no wonder that some of the earth let loose as well.

Down in the valley, pre-hike.

Down in the valley, pre-hike.

Get ready for another climb! This is a 300-foot elevation gain.

Get ready for another climb! This is a 300-foot elevation gain.

Dang! I can't even see the trail in this one, but it is there!

Dang! I can’t even see the trail in this one, but it is there!

A view from near the top.

A view from near the top.

 

Hikes we can’t wait to go back for:  Angels Landing is at the top of our list.  Due to the weather, we did not have enough time to give it a go.  I am not convinced that I will make it to the top – I have a heights thing; but Chris definitely will without a problem – he is a sky diving fool!

There are plenty of other hikes we would like to check out some day, but those were the main ones that we wanted to complete.

Hope this quick list was enjoyable and helpful!

 

About Jen

I love travel, which led me to become a fulltime RVer. I love wellness, which I can talk about 'til the cows come home. I love being self-employed, which means I get to dabble in what interests me from essential oils to RV planners. But most importantly, I love my husband and our life together on the road!

2 comments on “ZION: Emerald Pools, The Narrows, Canyon Overlook & Watchman Trails

  1. Wow! Awesome trip, hike and blog! Thanks for sharing. We were in Zion (and Bryce) last spring and we loved it. We hiked up Angels Landing, and you are right to have it at the top of your list. You are going to LOVE it (it’s a little scary sometimes too, but as you said, persevere, and also, avoid looking down. YOU CAN DO IT). Here’s a story to give you some inspiration. While we were hiking up we noticed a young man (boy really, but he was in those awkward years, wedged in between both and not quite either) hiking up entirely on his own. He was pretty winded too, slightly chubby and seeming fairly out of shape. We honestly didn’t think he would make it, and by the look on his face, I think he was on the same page. Anyway, I gave him a few words of encouragement as we passed him and basically forgot about him (there are lots of other things to think about on the way up). Once at the top we were revelling in the beauty with everyone else. Suddenly there was a commotion from another group of very fit, young men. At first, we were scared something bad had happened but then we realized that that heavier boy from before was their friend, and he had made it up! They were cheering their minds out for him and congratulating him like crazy. And while that in itself was beautiful, I think the feeling in that boy’s heart must have been even more amazing. Despite all the cheering in the world from his friends, he knew that HE had made it on his own! Perseverance. First one foot, then the other. I don’t even know the kid, but I was so proud of him. So go for it. Don’t look down, and first one foot, then the other.

    I hope we can go back someday and try Watchmen Trail.

    Thanks again for your great blog and the inspiration!

    • Hi, Phil! Thanks for sharing that beautiful story! There is so much to love about it – that he made it to the top, that his friends poured out so much encouragement, and that you were there to witness it and share it with us. We are looking forward to our next trip to Zion – so much to explore. Plus, we were there in the Fall, when there was not much water. I am excited to see the difference in the Spring – especially on the Emerald Pools & The Narrows. Thanks again for sharing, and reminding me that Angels Landing should be a part of our next visit. -Jen

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