Along with the Narrows and Angels Landing, The Subway is one of the classic hikes in Zion National Park. We would be taking the “easy” route out and back from the bottom, but it can also be done from the top, a more challenging trek which requires rappelling and swimming. Because this is a long hike, around 9 miles round trip, and involves much rock scrambling, boulder hopping, and walking through a creek, I was a bit hesitant to go along, but decided I would give it a try. Jim opted out of this one, since he figured there were far too many opportunities to slip and fall.
We arrived by 8:45 and were surprised by the number of cars already in the parking lot. The hike requires a permit, and only 80 people per day are allowed in the canyon. Andre and Rose were kind enough to fill out the application online and pick up the permit the day before.
The trail begins off Kolob Terrace Road, technically called the Left Fork Trail, as it makes its way to the Left Fork Of North Creek deep in the heart of Great West Canyon. The first half mile or so is a gradual descent along an easy, sandy trail, then it takes an abrupt downward turn along rocky, steep switchbacks, rapidly descending 400-500’. We got lucky as it had rained the previous day, so the wet soil made our feet much less likely to slip out from under us. It was still a challenging descent, which we would have to repeat in the other direction about 7 hours later, something none of us were looking forward to.
We would soon be down in the canyon,
after the steep, rough part of the trail.
It turned out to be a perfect day, sunny and mid 50s when we started out.
Once down to the creek, this is where the fun begins. There is not really an official trail, but in some places it was obvious where others had walked.
There were many obstacles where Susan and I kept saying “Oh, shit!”. She joked that if she had a blog, that would be her title for this hike.
The hike involves many, many crossings of the creek. We tried to keep our feet dry as long as possible by hopping on rocks, but my foot slipped off a rock early on and the water went over my boot, so I just gave up and walked through the stream a good bit after that.
Around the halfway point there is a giant boulder covered with dinosaur tracks. You could easily miss it depending on the route you pick.
Approaching the Subway there are some lovely tiered cascades.
There were ways around but I joined Susan and walked through the creek. Surprisingly it was not slippery if we avoided the green rock.
The canyon walls were becoming more rounded.
But don’t forget to look up.
One more obstacle to get around before reaching the Subway.
At this crack in the rock spewing out rushing water, you are almost there.
It really does sort of look like a subway tube.
A group of young people were having a great time sliding down the rock into a big pool. None of us had any interest in joining them, as not only was the water cold, the air was pretty chilly, too.
Hanging gardens on the canyon walls
The last two photos I took before the memory card was full.
What an amazing place!
After a leisurely lunch break and photo session we made our way back. It took us 3.5 hours to get to the Subway and 3 hours to return, a long day of hiking. I had pretty sore legs for the next couple of days . Mark told me the next time I do this it will seem easier, and although I am so glad I went, I think this will be a once-in-a-lifetime for me!