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Thursday, June 25, 2015

U.S. Trails - Looking for the Emeralds at Zion National Park

For the visually oriented, skip straight to the pictures here.

I managed to get to Zion an hour earlier than the day before, and made my way up the Watchman Trail. It's a relatively quick route up and down. It is rather a misnomer since it doesn't lead all the way up to the Watchman, but it did bring me closer to it. The trail starts a couple minutes' walk from the Visitors' Center. The start of the trail goes alongside the Virgin River with jaw dropping views of park employee housing and RVs.

At the top there's a sign post that says "Loop Trail," which I gathered to mean "Follow this trail to loop back down." Apparently it really means "Follow this trail to go in a loop back to where you are standing right now." My bad.

Once back down, I jumped on the shuttle and made my way to the Lodge stop, where the trails to the Lower, Middle, and Upper Emerald Pools begin. The trails are easy, but easy also means lots of crowds, families, and little kids running amok. 

See photos of my Watchman and Emerald Pools Trails here.

Total miles walked today: ~6 (rest day!) 
Total water drank today: a rainfall x 2

Watchman Trail Summary
Difficulty: Like chewing ice, with steady inclines and no climbing
Length: 3 miles round-trip 
Altitude change: 300 feet
Time: It all depends on the temperature, crowd, your fitness level, etc., but probably it's about a 2 hour leisure hike round-trip
Tip: Go up in the early morning to get amazing views of the rising sun shining on the Altar of Sacrifice and the other features to its sides.

Emerald Pools Trails Summary
Difficulty: Like drinking water.
Length: Ranges, depending on which route's taken 
Altitude change: 400 feet
Time: It all depends on the temperature, crowd, your fitness level, etc., but probably it's about a 2-3 hour leisure hike round-trip
Tip: At Upper Emerald, if climb you climb up the rocks to the right, you can get a nice photo of the canyon wall reflecting off the pool. Also, take the Kayenta Trail trail back if you want to add an element of novelty. It'll lead you back to the Grotto shuttle stop.

Remember: hike at your own risk as your safety is your responsibility.

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