Hike the Zion Subway - Bottom Up
Utah › The Subway, Zion National Park
Added by Lindsay Daniels
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!
- Hiking shoes that can get wet
- Light wool socks
Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.
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
Hiking, Photography, Swimming
Spring, Summer, Autumn
Are we missing something?Suggest an edit
ReviewsLeave a Review
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!
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! 🙌🏽
This is without doubt one of my favorite hikes for several reasons. First of all, the fact that they hike goes stream up a is beautiful and fun, because you have to cross the water quite sometime. Second, the subway at the end is just mystical and magical in its appearance. The colors of the stone are beautiful. Last but not least, the hike is quite challenging and requires some fitness and hiking experience (simple navigation for example). The only sad thing is, that you campt go into the actually Subway deeply without getting soaked, wetsuit is required.
Subway Hike Fall 2015
This was a really awesome hike!! As previously mentioned it takes quite a bit of scrambling over and around large rocks; not really a marked trail to go by, just follow the river. Everyone in our group ran out of water and we all carried our own 3L hydration packs, so I'd recommend bringing iodine pills or Life Straw as backup. Lastly, make sure you have enough energy and leg strength to get back out of the canyon! Hardest hike out I've ever done. But in the end, it's worth it!
This is a prime photo spot in the fall so permits have been getting harder to come by. The nice thing though is that you'll escape the usual crushing crowds of the main canyon. I use neoprene socks with grip to walk in the Subway itself and just hiking shoes to get there.
The best thing about this hike is how much solitude one can get while doing it. Zion NP has many hikes within the main part where it's flooded with tourists. The Subway hike is not like this! It's remote and beautiful! I traveled here in May and started my hike near sunrise. I didn't encounter another hiker until my way back. This requires a little bit of rock scrambling and at times even on all fours (when climbing back up to the trailhead at the end of your hike). Bring plenty of room on your camera's SD card :)
One of the most memorable hikes I've ever done. I went during February and was the only person on the trail- though I wasn't prepared for how cold the water would be. I would recommend getting some Neoprene socks or dry pants if you're thinking about doing it during a colder season.
Great hike, but be prepared (and have good shoes)
When I did this hike with my Dad, we rented neoprene shoes/socks from a local outfitter - which was a great idea, however, one of the two must not have been fitting properly for either of us. After our week long trip in Utah we had several bruised toenails since there is a lot of downward hiking and scrambling involved with this hike. I think that's the one thing that made it difficult for us - our feet were killing us on the way back (from our feet being jammed into the end of the shoes) and we had spent so long photographing that we just barely made it out before sunset (and we did get an early start!). The exploration during the hike and around the Subway was well worth it, but we would have wished we'd had better fitting shoes and definitely more water!
More Adventures Nearby
Backcountry Ski USA Bowl
Utah / Old Stage Road Trail
To get the the trailhead, drive up Big Cottonwood Canyon until you reach the upper entrance into Solitude Ski Resort. You can park on the road just below the entrance to the resort.
Backcountry Ski Butler Fork
Utah / Butler Fork Trailhead
The trail head for Butler Fork is 8 miles up Big Cottonwood Canyon on the left side of the road. Throw your gear on and head up the trail.