The Subway Trail

HARD 197 reviews
#6 of 87 trails in

The Subway Trail is a 7 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
7.0 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1305 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.

hiking
8 days ago

One of my favorite hikes. spectacular ending. make sure to pay attention and have a plan. I came across some lost hikers when I was out there.

10 days ago

Stunning!

hiking
11 days ago

An awesome hike, it worth to do it! I did top to bottom. I had wetsuit 3/4 mm. The water wasn't too cold with wetsuit! Use GAIA GPS app and you don't have to worry to get lost!

hiking
11 days ago

After doing strictly hikes for elevation the last couple days this one is a completely different beast. For 7 or so miles it’s an all out scramble up to the subway formation which requires you to hopscotch from each side of the creek attempting to follow the sandy pathway. There is no defining direction and at times you don’t know which side is correct, but if you follow the water you will be fine. Luckily, we started with another couple (thanks Paul & Marlene!) at the top early in the AM and as a team found our way together. I wore my keen hiking boots and wool socks and got wet the entire hike (there is no way around it). I guess neoprene socks would help, but oh well! There are times where you must walk on the rocks in the water and they are covered with algae which makes it very slippery so watch out. The scene at the end is remarkable and I decided to get in the pools at the end and wade to the waterfall. It was freezing FYI. The hike OUT at the end is the most strenuous part and can be a bit tiring at times, especially after we hiked 7+ miles. Altogether it was an amazing experience and would do it again!

See photos on Instagram @drpatrickmuller

12 days ago

Great trail. Poorly indicated but this is what makes it great. It is an adventure! You don’t feel like in Dysneyland Angel’s landing. We were lucky to win the lottery to be allowed to hike there. One of the best hike of our vacation. We rented hiking boots with Neoprene socks near Zion visitor center the evening before (mid of Aprîl)

21 days ago

Gotta laugh at some people with no sense of adventure. The beauty of this trail is that it isn’t a trail. It’s an over-land scrambling adventure. It is a ball buster too. Very challenging in the sense that you’re climbing up rocks, walking up waterfalls, etc. The Subway itself is iconic and does not disappoint. Awesome time

28 days ago

The end of the trail is a wonderful place to see, so don’t get me wrong here. But the trail itself is BS. Why I say that is one reason only... This is most likely the most horrible marked (unmarked) trail I have EVER seen. You have no idea what side on the stream you need to be on to keep moving forward. You guess if water run off patches in the sides are paths or not and your back tracking 1/3 of time instead of moving forward. Most of the trail has no real pay off for at least there hours in. Plus after going all the way up and then back, you then have to climb back up that mountain with tired legs to get out. So be prepared. I’d skip the bottom up trail for the Subway and just go to the amazing Narrows in Zion!

29 days ago

Incredible hike. Very challenging because the trail is scarce. You have to do a lot of climbing. Looks for the dinosaur footprints!

hiking
1 month ago

Did the bottom up hike with neoprene socks, canyoneering shoes, and dry pants. Highly recommend for this time of year since water temps were 35 and water was thigh high at some points. We started the hike at 8 am and were the first ones to the subway- it was great having the views all to ourself!

hiking
1 month ago

Such a stunning trail! The hike down into the canyon is Pretty tough since it is vertical most of the way down. Be sure to check back at the trail end when you drop down into the canyon. There was a ribbon tied to a tree and some rocks stacked up by the river to let you know that’s the left fork trail up. Once inside the canyon you have a two hour hike to the subway. The bottom hike is very sunny and hot so bring plenty of water. There are social trails on both sides of the river so keep and look out for those and go with what works best for you and your group. Once you make it to the waterfalls and the subway you are in for a treat. It’s like nothing on this earth and seems like you are exploring a different plant or dimension. We did not have wet suites on so we only went as far as the deep pools allowed.

hiking
1 month ago

One of the most beautiful trails in Zion. Make sure to book a permit far in advance because it fills up quickly. The ranger made it seem like the trail would be very difficult but I found it to be more on the moderate side (once you get past the first steep section. Make sure to head northeast from the trailhead towards the large cliffs (on your left as you're looking across the valley.) On your way back look for the large black cliff on the right as a marker to return to the trailhead.

2 months ago

This was hands down one of the hardest hikes I’ve done. Went in early March, was cold and wore water suits. The hike just goes on and one from warm temps to seeing snow on trees to seeing leaves to the rock scramble back to the car. Pure hell. BUT. When you enter the Subway it’s just pure magical. Bring lots of water.

hiking
4 months ago

A great trail which involves crossing the stream several times and scrambling over rocks and boulders which was fun. The view at the end is incredible but you must traverse through 40° water for a few seconds to get there. Make sure to talks good trail shoes that are good on wet surfaces. Take clothes that dry quickly as well. The last incline out is a haul after a long day but well worth it. You must have a permit to do this hike.

hiking
4 months ago

One of my favorite hikes. Not much elevation, but the crisscross to get to the Subway is a lot of fun. I only wore neoprene socks and boots from Zion Adventure Co, but in hindsight should of worn the entire water tight outfit to see the last waterfall. Had to stop where the canyon narrowed and went chest deep. Highly recommend.

hiking
4 months ago

A bit rough on the knees but no pain no gain! Beautiful landscape and off season a brilliantly mystical place. Highly recommend going in the winter to have the whole place to yourself!

5 months 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!

6 months ago

Fun hike.

6 months ago

Spectacular hike. 9/10 difficultly.

6 months 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!

6 months 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.

7 months ago

Awesome

7 months ago

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

7 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!!

7 months ago

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

hiking
7 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
8 months ago

Awesome

8 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.

8 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.

8 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
8 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.

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