Various popular trails in Zion National Park remain closed after damage was sustained during an intense thunderstorm on Wednesday last week.
Angels Landing, Kayenta Trail, Upper Emerald Pools, West Rim from the Grotto Trailhead to Cabin Spring and the far end of the Lower Emerald Pools are among the trails closed. According to park officials, the trails will remain closed until engineers can reroute or repair them.
Trail staff and engineers have been examining and assessing the damage done on each trail over the past few days, with further assessments set to continue on into next week. In the majority of the drainages in Zion, minor damage has been found to trail surfaces, culverts and retaining walls.
The Refrigerator Canyon on the West Rim Trail, a large portion of the Kayenta Trail and the Far end of the Lower Emerald Pools Trail received substantial damage creating safety issues which vary from extensive rockfalls, loss of structural integrity from erosion, and trail and wall failures.
In Refrigerator Canyon, an 18-foot gap in the trail that is over 5 feet deep, opened up along the area where hikers pass to get to and from Angels Landing after a section of the retaining wall failed. This gap not only closed Angels Landing but closed the West Rim Trail between Cabin Spring near the wilderness campsite #1 as well as the Grotto Trailhead. Park officials encourage visitors to hike Observation Point or the Hidden Canyon Trail, which offer equally breathtaking views of the Canyon. The West Rim campsites are accessible through the Lava Point Trailhead.
Lower Emerald Pools
Along the Lower Emerald Pools Trail, a 20-foot by 10-foot boulder, which supported part of the trail, fell causing a deep hole along the trail. Due to the boulder falling, two retaining walls, which also helped support the trail, failed. While the Lower Emerald Pools waterfall is still visible from the trail, park visitors are no longer allowed to walk behind the waterfall due to safety concerns. Park officials encourage visitors to hike the Riverside Walk or the Pa’rus Trail as alternatives.
Kayenta Trail & Upper Emerald Pools
On the Kayenta Trail, several large boulders fell crushing around 50 feet of the trail, making it impassable. The Upper Emerald Pools Trail has also been closed due to the fact that there is now way to access the trail without using the Lower Emerald Pools Trail or the Kayenta Trail. Park officials are suggesting visitors hike the Watchman Trail as an alternative to both closed trails.
While park staff and engineers continue their assessments and strategies as to how to fix the damaged trails, they ask for patience as repairs go underway, and remind everyone that Closures are enforced to help keep visitors safe from the unstable and unreliable trail integrity at this time. Violating posted closures could result in a fine.
Park Superintendent Jeff Bradybaugh released a statement saying, “While we are examining possible temporary reroutes to open trails, cliffs and steep terrain limit those opportunities. Extensive repair work will be required before some trails can be opened.”