Hiking the Subway in Zion national park is an incredible experience. Only around 80 people are allowed to hike it per day, and you must obtain a permit before parking at the trailhead. If you have the chance to land a permit, be sure to take advantage.
Distance: 6.5 mile round trip
Hike Time: 5-8 hours
*if you are used to rock hopping and trail running, it can be done in under 3 hours.
The trail to the subway isn’t really a trail, but a river, the Left Fork of North Creek. At the trailhead, you quickly descend down to the Left Fork, where you begin the 4.5 mile trek up along the sides of the Left Fork River to the subway. You will have to rock hop many times, cross the river, and you will see many beautiful pools of water (many of which contain rainbow trout).
The less common, but many consider more exciting route to the Subway is from the top down beginning at the Wildcat Canyon Trailhead. This route is a 9.5 mile through hike, and requires 60 feet of rope, rock rappeling, and someone that can ensure you won’t get lost. You will also need to swim for various portions of the hike.
Both Trailheads are located on Kolob Terrace Road. (See directions below)
The Subway Hike: Bottom Up
From the Left Fork Trailhead parking area, you will quickly begin descending down towards the river in which you will walk all the way up to the subway. (The picture below is taken just after the trailhead, pointing towards your destination, The Subway. You can see the river down below.
I don’t want to give away too many pictures, but this will hopefully these will give you enough reason to check this hike out.
The Waterfall Room
Wanna go for a swim? In order to reach the waterfall room, you are going to have to hop into a couple pools of water, and swim to your reward. Its worth it.
The Subway Hiking Permit
There are a couple of ways you can obtain a permit. You can apply online, 3 months in advance of your trip with a $5 lottery fee (non-refundable). You can also apply for a last minute drawing 2-7 days in advance of the hike, or you can get a walk-in permit the day of or the day before your hike. This last is a risky option, but during less frequented months, you can almost guarantee a spot this way.
Walk-In Permits can be obtained at the Zion National Park Visitor Center
Want to apply online? See here: https://www.nps.gov/zion/planyourvisit/subwaypermits.htm
$15 for 1-2 people
$20 for 3-7 people
$25 for 8-12 people
What to Wear Hiking the Subway?
You should be prepared to get your feet wet at the end of the hike, and potentially early on during high water times. Like the narrows, you may be hiking with wet feet all day. Simply be prepared for this and staying warm for whatever the temperature conditions are going to be.
Directions to Trailheads on Kolob Terrace Road.
Left Fork Trailhead (Bottom Up)
Wildcat Canyon Trailhead (Top Down)