Hike the Zion Subway - Bottom Up

The Subway, Zion National Park

See Zion's famous Subway feature and cool off by walking in the river most of this hike and swim in the pools that are above the Subway. This is the non-technical part of the Subway. Make sure you have a permit.

Start your day early at the Left Fork Trailhead on Kolob Terrace Road from the town of Virgin outside Zion National Park. This 6.5 mile out and back hike will take you to one of the most beautiful features in Zion National Park: The Subway. You'll start with a steep descent into the canyon. This will also be your exit, so make sure to orient yourself once you're in the canyon and remember where you came from. It can be easy to miss on the way out!

Don't be afraid to get wet! This hike is meant to be through the river, so make sure to wear the appropriate clothing/footwear. Along the way, wander a bit off trail to see dinosaur tracks (37°17.986 N, 113°04.207 W). Right before you reach the Subway, you'll reach beautiful cascades where many photographers stop to take photos. A little further up the trail is where a band of water shoots through slick sandstone. Just around the corner from the slots of rushing water is the Subway. Be careful in this area as it is really slippery! Meander your way up above the subway and look down into the curved canyon walls. When the sun is high, the light bounces off these walls and creates an amazing orange glow. Go further up the canyon to reach a waterfall and some deeper pools to take a dip.

After you've cooled off and enjoyed the beauty of the Subway, head back the way you came.

Be aware of flash floods possibilities and talk to park rangers about any potential dangers.

To obtain a permit, go to Zion National Park's website and apply for one. You'll have to pick up the permit in the park the day before your hike, so plan ahead.

Remember, this is an all day hike, so start early!

Pack List

  • Hiking shoes that can get wet
  • Light wool socks
  • Jacket
  • Water
  • Food
  • Camera
  • Tripod
Show More
RT Distance 6.5 Miles
Activities Photography, Swimming, Hiking
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Spring, Summer, Autumn
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
River
Scenic
Waterfall
Swimming Hole

Reviews

Leave a Review

Overall rating: 

One Of My Favorites

This is a dynamic trail with a variety of challenges like rock scrambling and water crossings. Be sure to wait a day or two after the rain or the tail will be impassable. While the Subway tubes are incredible, I got great satisfaction from the fossilized dinosaur foot prints. Cannot wait to do this again!

Photogenic

I made the zion subway hike in mid October. The weather was warm and clear that day, making it quite warm on the hike in. The subway itself is slightly cooler than the rest of the bottom up hike. With a little wind chill that comes down into the natural tunnel and it remains in the shade almost 100% of the time. If you plan on doing the bottom up hike in the fall I'd simply recommend being prepared for a warm hike and have some kind of wet or dry suit to keep warm while visiting the subway itself. The hike itself I feel is over exaggerated as being very rough. I thought it was extremely smooth, and quite relaxing .There isn't much of a trail so you'll waid up stream most of the bottom up hike, but it's not strenuous (in my opinion ) it's fairly flat the whole way with the exception of the first part of the hike; Which is a large set of switchbacks that go down several hundred feet. You will need to go back up these switchbacks when returning, which is the only hard part of the bottom up hike.

A Must Do In Zion

There are other hikes you can add unto with proper permits as well, like 'das boot, that adds to the excitement. Neoprene socks is all you really need during the hot summer if you're fit. Older folks, recommend a suit, I would. And if you're brave enough there's an underwater tunnel pothole at the subway! Have the proper canyoneering experience, of course. Be safe. Go Utes! 🙌🏽


Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

Nearby Adventures

More Nearby Adventures

Glamping in Zion

Under Canvas at Zion is the premier glamping destination for Zion National Park.

18 Saves

Rock Climb in Lambs Knoll

If you're a rock climber, then chances are you've got Zion National Park on your list of to do's, or must go back. The beautiful sandstone just keeps calling you back and asking you to climb more.

31 Saves

Hike the Connector Trail, Zion NP

This 4-mile (one-way) trek is a multi-functional trail.

38 Saves