Emerald Pond is one of the destination hikes I do every year since I first went in 2016. This gem of a hike has the best of all hiking - scenic overlook, strenuous uphill hike, wildlife, and a pristine swimming hole to cool off. Emerald pond is a spring-fed swimming hole right off the Bird Knob Trail. Apparently mountain swimming holes are rare in Virginia. Who knew?
This year, I took advantage of my time being furloughed to do this trail again. I brought my sister and her dog along for the adventure this go around. This hike starts at the old Massanutten Visitor's Center, on the wildflower trail. It then connects to the orange blazed Massanutten South Ridge Trail. So let me tell you, this part sucks. This is the part of the trail that is pretty strenuous. It is an uphill section with some rock scrambles. Once you finish the uphill climb, you are quickly rewarded with a scenic overlook of the Harrisonburg Valley. The rest of the trail is pretty flat. You then connect to the Bird Knob trail that takes you to Emerald Pond. There were only two other groups at the pond when we arrived. Perfect for the new social distancing world! The pond was still very clean. I am always surprised it's clean every time I go. The water just begs you to go in for a swim!
Here are some photos from the hike and some quick info on the trail
Here's what you need to know before heading there
Coordinates for parking at the old visitor's center: 38.64278, -78.61138
Fee: none, free
Camping: There are a few campsites on the trail and at the pond
Clothes: wear protective clothing while hiking for tick prevention. If you intend on swimming wear a swimsuit underneath. I recommend sturdy hiking shoes, especially for the beginning part of the hike. A good pair of tennis shoes can be worn but be careful about walking in the rocky areas. I strongly suggest wearing water shoes or flip flops when entering the pond. There are some sharp objects in the water like rocks, crayfish(?), etc.
Animals: There are a lot of ticks in this area. Wear protective clothing and bring bug repellant. I have encountered bears and copperhead snakes on this hike before. Be very vigilant on this hike.