The Subway, Zion National Park, Utah - The Traveller

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Saturday, April 9, 2016

The Subway, Zion National Park, Utah

The Subway

The Subway – Famous Backcountry Hikes in Zion


The Subway is one of the most famous backcountry hikes in Zion which is one of the most varied and beautiful canyons. It is a short and the most spectacular section of the Left Fork of North Creek. The canyon system is known as the Great West Canyon which comprises of the Left and the Right Forks.

The Subway section has not been marked on the maps though it is where the Left Fork tends to tighten up and twist sharply between the North Guardian Angel and Guardian Angel Pass and the hike is known as `The Left Fork’.The route begins at the Wildcat Canyon Trailhead and slopes down a steep gully.

The Left Fork is followed via The Subway and then down canyon a few miles and a short steep trail then ascends the road ending at the left Fork Trailhead.To explore The Subway, permits are essential regardless of the direction of travel and the trip involves extensive routing finding. Those undertaking the trip are encouraged to do so with an experienced hiker of The Subway or attain a detailed route description. The Subway is said to be a day use area only.

Semi-Technical Canyoneering Adventure


Owing to its popularity, The Subway is accomplished under a quota system and reservations are distributed by lotto several months in advance which is highly recommended. After the lottery assignments have been done, the remaining reservation spots can be booked through the internet, one week in advance and thereafter, a new `Last Minute Drawing’, tends to allocate remaining spots through the internet.

Last minute drawing applications are considered between 2 days till noon and 7 days in advance of the date of the trip for Slot Canyon Day Trips which have been filled by reserved allocations. Last minute drawing tends to run two day before the requested trip date at 1 pm MDT.

After the last minute drawing, there could also be some walk-up permits that may be available a day in advance or the day of the hike. One need to be flexible and planning should be done in advance to avoid disappointment. The Subway – Left Fork of North Creek is a semi technical canyoneering adventure and the routes need to be undertaken only when it is led by an experienced hiker.

The Subway – Rated 2B III – Canyon Rating System


The route can be completed within 7 to 9 hours and it is worth the effort and time in visiting some of the most spectacular scenery in Zion National Park without the inconvenience of a busload of visitors. A car shuttle or hitching a ride would be appropriate in completing the trip down adventure. While undertaking the adventure, one would need a 60 foot rope for hand lines, lowering packs and possible emergency use, belays and the use of a dry bag for keeping essentials free from moisture.

 The Subway tends to contain many cold swims and miles of wading. The Subway has been rated 2B III utilising the Canyon Rating System and navigation for this hike is moderate because there is no trail. The Guardian Angels is the USGS 7.5 minute typographical map showing the Subway.

A GPS tends to work in his canyon in identifying all major route junctions as well as the exit trail and most of the waypoints and maps for this route tend to use the WGS84 datum. There is a serious flash flood danger for The Subway and the Zion Narrows and one need to check the weather report at the Visitor Centre while picking up your permit.

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