The Subway Trail

HARD 159 reviews
#6 of 84 trails in

The Subway Trail is a 6.5 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Virgin, Utah that features a waterfall and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding and is best used from June until October.

DISTANCE
6.5 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1414 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

birding

hiking

nature trips

walking

river

views

waterfall

rocky

scramble

no dogs

In order to hike the subway trail, hikers need a PERMIT from the administration of Zion National Park that can be picked up from the visitor center. This is day-use only hike. The Subway Trail can be accessed off of Kolob Terrace Road at the Left Fork Trailhead. The trail gets its name from the pipe-like gorge formed by the canyon walls of North Creek. This is a canyoneering tour through the left fork of North Creek. It is a long day hike to dinosaur tracks, keyhole falls, and the subway. The trail follows a the creek and hikers have to pass through creek in many locations along the hike. The trail is not maintained. It is recommended that you are either an experienced hiker or have an experienced hiker to guide you on this slot canyon trail, as unlike the Narrows, it is a semi-technical hike that can require rappelling and swimming through deep pools of cold water. The subway section of the trail can also be very slippery so proceed with caution. This hike starts from the bottom of the Subway Trail, however many hikers do this trail from the top down off of Wildcat Canyon Trailhead, as the bottom up route is much more difficult. This area can be prone to flash floods so be mindful of rain and talk to park rangers before heading out on your hike if you have any concerns.

14 days ago

not gonna lie we got lost on the way back, be very careful because there is a false exit and you want to be SURE not to take it.

the trail was BEAUTIFUL though. not to difficult other then the small hiccup at the end. And the tunnel and waterfalls were amazing!

1 month ago

Fun hike.

1 month ago

Spectacular hike. 9/10 difficultly.

1 month ago

amazing hike. don't forget to bring enough clothes in order to get into the pools in the end (I switched shoes just for the end) totally worth it!

1 month ago

Giving this hike 3 stars in comparison to the top down hike. As a down and back hike, you're obviously covering the same terrain twice, which I'm personally not a huge fan of.

Hiking along the river is beautiful but offers little new or unique scenery until the very end as you near the subway trail end.

The top down version by comparison is AMAZING and is only a small increase in time investment.

1 month ago

Awesome

2 months ago

Great views, beautiful weather, couldn't ask for more!

2 months ago

Amazing trail. Be sure to hike from the top down or you will truly miss out on the experience. Trail isn't always clear; unless you're a great trailblazer, be sure to go with someone who's done it before. Repelling gear needed and wet suits highly recommended. Worth every minute!!

2 months ago

This is the best hike and date I've ever been on! The scenery is unbelievable.

hiking
2 months ago

this is a great trail! however it is 16km round trip! not 10km!! lots of rocks and crossing the river about 10 times before reaching the subway... great trail!!!

hiking
3 months ago

Awesome

3 months ago

I went the first week of April, so there were higher volumes of water and it was swift at the Subway. The water was around 6 inches above the pools in the Subway, so you really had to keep a lookout for them. Keep your eyes open for the dinosaur footprints about 2.3 miles in... they're on a white slab of rock on the left-hand side of the river (when going upstream.) Bring plenty of water. It's a long, hot hike with a canyon to climb out of on your way out.

3 months ago

Beautiful hike and views. Be ready to get wet as there will be many times you have to cross back and forth across the river. Make sure you take note of the exact spot when you decent into the canyon and get to the river. You will need this for the way out. I recommend starting as early as you can as the sun really heats up on the way back. You will need more than 3L of water. Rocks are very slippery and there isn't an exact trail just follow the river.

3 months ago

Awesome hike. Picked our way up the river, saw a few dinosaur footprints. The subway formation was beautiful, but go a little farther to see the waterfall room

hiking
3 months ago

I hiked "bottom-up," which is essentially an up and back hike from the Left Fork Trailhead to the Subway, and then back. If you choose this option, you do not need any special gear (i.e. ropes or harness). Our group ( 4 guys ages 27-33) took six hours to complete, which included a 15 minute stop at the Subway. Our group was moving relatively fast, so I would expect the normal hike take about 8 hours.

Some specifics:
You do need a permit to hike this trail. Our entire group submitted lottery applications, and 1 of us "won" a spot (which is enough to get the whole group in). The downside is you have to obtain the permit from the visitor's center, and the closet one is in the main entrance of Zion. From there, you have to backtrack 20 minutes to the trailhead. Our group drove from Vegas the morning of, and because we needed the permit, we didn't actually stark hiking until noon. If you're able to obtain the permit the day before your anticipated hike, do that.

Weather for mid-August was low 90's. We applied sunscreen about 4 times throughout the trails. It is mostly canyon-like hiking, with the vast majority of the hike being exposed. The beginning portion of the hike is a decent into the canyon with a fair bit of loose rock. Once in the canyon, you simply follow the creek upstream. The "trail" was seemingly on both sides of the creek, as plenty of people have traveled either side. The subway itself is gorgeous, but portions are super slick. I brought my DSLR camera in a dry bag, and it was worth it because I got close to slipping in the subway a few times. If you plan to swim back into the waterfalls behind the Subway, you'll have to stash your bags somewhere in the Subway and swim in cold water about 50 yards.
On the way back, the most difficult part is the assent out of the canyon. I took about 2 small breaks to let my legs un-cramp, and I saw a few other groups stopped as well. Once you get out of the steep area, be vigilant for where the trail returns to the Left Fork Trailhead parking lot. I've heard stories of people walking past this route and continue past it. Frankly, it's pretty obvious where to go as there is some signage, a spray white arrow, and some cairns to guide you back to the parking lot. If you want to be super cautions, you can turn on your GPS and use the Alltrails App to be super sure (cell coverage existed during a lot of the hike).

Small stuff:
Clip your toenails. This goes without saying for a lot of hikers, but it's worth mentioning especially for this hike. The amount of forward movement your foot has into the shoe (from descending, jumping on rocks, etc...) is more noticeable.
Bring a change of socks, but don't change immediately after you get our of the Subway. I made the mistake of bringing dry socks, but i changed into them right after getting out of the Subway. Since my shoes didn't have the proper amount of time to dry, the new socks got wet as well. In retrospect, it would have been better to change into my dry socks about a mile away back from the Subway.\

Overall, the hike was great. I would definitely do it again.

3 months ago

very very challenging but absolutely breathtaking! We parked at the Left Fork Trailhead on Kolob Terrace Road. It took us 9+ hours in and back. Don't do this hike if you aren't planning to do the whole thing because the best part is the end!

Bring a camalbak and extra socks because you will get wet!

4 months ago

Fun adventurous hike. It's pretty strenuous but well worth it.

4 months ago

If you are going to do this hike, leaving early is the best. We left at 6am and got to the subway by 9am. We would have been the only ones in the subway, but some photographers had started the hike with a guide at 3am. The climb down into the canyon and back up were toughest (in my opinion). I recommend trekking poles! Keeping track of the path with a lot of river crossings was also a bit hard. So happy I did this hike. Also- permit required if you didn't know that.

Beautiful! One of my very favorite hikes!

4 months ago

Amazing hike. Lots of fun. Went with the group of 6. Our mistake was that we didn't bring any rope. There is one cliff edge to repel. A rope would have helped us, but we still figured it out, did something like human chain and made it safely of that cliff. It was such a great time, beautiful views, I would do this hike again.

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