With Zion’s popular Emerald Pools Trail closed for much of this year due to a rockslide and now bridge repairs, the Kayenta Trail has become a popular alternative to see the lush wonderland of the pools. It’s not paved like the Emerald Pools Trail and is a bit longer and harder, so it is somewhat less crowded. It is a busy hike, though. Multiple people have died after falling at the pools, so mind your children and take care to avoid jostling other hikers.
Getting There • During the high season, take the Zion Canyon Shuttle from the visitors center to The Grotto picnic area, the fifth stop. During the off-season, drive 3.4 miles north of the junction with State Road 9 to The Grotto.
The Trail • From The Grotto shuttle stop, cross the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive, and then cross the bridge north to the trailhead and head west.
The trail rises above the Virgin River for about three quarters of a mile to a junction. Either fork in the trail is fine; the left fork goes downhill to an overlook of Lower Emerald Pool, and then there is a spur back up to the main Kayenta Trail. The right fork continues along the ridge.
The Middle Pool appears about one mile into the trail. From there it’s only about 0.2 mile to the Upper Pool and waterfall, but it’s quite steep and the trail is rougher. There are a number of informal paths just above Middle Pool; stay on the most pronounced trail to the Upper Pool. Try to avoid stomping off trail in this sensitive but crowded area.
Kayenta Trail at Zion National Park
Hiking time • 3 hours with exploring at the pools
Round-trip miles • 2.4 miles
Elevation gain • 360 feet
Difficulty • Medium
Trailhead restrooms • Yes
Fees • Park admission $30 per vehicle for seven days
Dogs allowed • No
Bikes allowed • No