Subway Bottom-Up, Zion National Park

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  • As a Zion icon, the Subway easily competes as the most popular enrty-level canyoneering route in Zion. A series of slots, alcoves, pools, and waterfalls of marvelous beauty await dedicated hikers and photographers looking to experience it's classic curved walls. Due to its popularity, the Subway is managed by a quota reservation system and requires a permit to visit. For those without technical skills and the necessary gear to complete the Top-Down version of this canyon, the Bottom-Up is a great choice and allows visitors to explore many spectsacular parts of this canyon. From the trailhead, hikers drop into the Left Fork of North Creek by traversing through steep switchbacks until hitting the river.  Navigating up canyon, hikers encounter gradually narrowing walls until passing through the tunnel-like feature (giving the canyon its popular name, the Subway) and ending at Keyhole Falls.
  • Trailhead: From Springdale, drive west on State Route 9 through Rockville and into Virgin (15 minutes). 1/4 mile after the Zion River Resort (on left), turn right on the Kolob Terrace road. Drive north for 8 miles until you reach the posted Left Fork Trailhead(on your right).

    Mileage: 7 miles (11.3 km), round-trip

    Elevation Gain: 1000 feet (300 meters), net gain

    Approximate Hike Time: 6 - 10 hours, round-trip

    Difficulty: Strenuous, with off-trail hiking, navigation, and stream crossings

    Crowds: Depending on when you start your hike, you may see fewer hikers but this trail is still a popular trail.
  • Best Times of Day:
    This hike takes an entire day, and is best started early in the summer to avoid a blistering hot hike back to the car.

    Best Times of Year:
    Check with either the Backcountry Desk inside the park or with Zion Adventure Company for current conditions.
    Autumn and early summer are best for this exposed trail 
    Summer hiking can be HOT, so bring plenty of water and snacks
  • About halfway to the Subway feature in the canyon there are dinoursaur tracks located on grayish boulders along the water.

  • Water Sources: Left Fork River. For your safety purify all water before drinking.

    Extra Notes: Reservations are highly recommended and may be made up to three months in advance via a lottery system on the Zion National Park website.  Last minute permits are sometimes available at the Backcountry Desk, but often sell out very quickly. Have a detailed route description and take note of the switchbacked at the beginning of yur day so you don't miss it on your way out.