Middle Emerald Pools Trail

The Middle Emerald Pools Trail Centennial Fundraiser is currently one of the National Park Foundation’s Top 50 Centennial Fundraising Projects and the Zion National Park Foundation is hoping to match the funds they raise. Construction of the Emerald Pools Trails: Lower, Middle and Upper began in 1932 by the Nation Park Service. They were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987.

After a record breaking snowfall on the plateau of Zion, there was a period of warm weather in December of 2010 and 9 consecutive days of heavy continuous rain that caused major flooding in Zion Canyon. The Virgin River peaked at 5,860 cfs causing the park to close the canyon. It was during this major flooding that there was a small landslide on the Middle Emerald Pools trail just past the junction with the Sand Bench trail.

According to James Brown, Zion Trail Crew Supervisor, “The section of the slide that was most severe was the top of the slump, where the land slid 20 vertical feet. Initially the park tried to reopen the trail but in just one weekend, the slide moved half a foot. This caused the park to close the Middle Emerald Pools trail and even today it continues to move a few inches or so each time it rains.”

The trail cannot be put back in the same area but the plan is to reroute the trail in order to safely reopen it. This project would include new infrastructure including drainage structured like culverts and water bars, stone retaining walls, and check steps (stone or log fronted steps with crushed rock inside) to retain the soil. This trail was one of the most popular trails in Zion National Park. With an increase of supporters and awareness it is our hope that this iconic trail in Zion will once again be open to the public.

Visit our “Give Now” page to contribute to the rehabilitation of this historic trail.

~ Photo courtesy Zion NP. James Brown, Zion Trail Crew Supervisor, stands where the 2010 landslide covered a section of the Middle Emerald Pools Trail. Previous to the slide, at this location the trail gently ascended and made a switch-back to return towards the big rock above James’ head. The ground slumped taking out both levels of trail.