The Subway is one of those trails that starts out just ok, but with every step you take, it gets better and better. By the time you reach the pools at the end, you feel like you have entered a whole new world.
8 miles round trip
The difficulty of this trail lies mostly in all the rock scrambling you have to do. You will constantly be going up, down, over and around rocks and boulders as you follow the Left Fork of North Creek up the stream to The Subway. The most exhausting part of the hike is the 1/2 mile steep and rocky descent to get to the stream at the beginning of the hike. That 1/2 mile steep incline on your return will not be your friend, but those memories are so worth it!
8 miles up the Kolob Terrace road is the start of the hike. The sign for the parking lot says Left Fork Trailhead. Click Here for directions.
This hike is by permit only. Read the tips section below for more info about getting a permit. Hiking The Subway from the bottom means that you do not have to do any repelling to get to the beautiful blue-green pools of water known as The Subway, it does not mean that you are starting at a low point. From the parking lot, you will take a nicely maintained trail about 1/2 mile through a juniper and pinion forest. Things start to get interesting when that trail turns into a steep and rocky descent.
Once you reach the bottom, you will take the Left Fork of North Creek stream and follow that all the way up until you hit the main attraction. The trail is rocky and unclear in many spots. You just have to pick a side of the stream and go back and forth as you make your way up. It's all about the journey and not the destination totally applies to this trail. There are so many beautiful gems along the way. The destination is pretty magical though. Scroll through for tips and additional info.
TIPS AND ADDITIONAL INFO
I'll be honest, getting a permit sucks. With that said I think I may have figured out a way to get a permit without all the rejection. Put in for a permit. You can try for the advanced lottery three months in advance, and you can try for the last minute lottery 2-7 days in advance. It costs $5 every time you apply. Click Here to apply. If luck is not on your side (it wasn't for me) try the day of route. Show up at the Kolob Canyon (Currently Closed but should be opening soon) visitor center or the Zion National Park visitor center at 8:00 in the morning and ask if there are any unclaimed permits. For the best chance of success try this on a weekday in the spring or fall.
In order to avoid hiking the intense 1/2 mile uphill stretch in the heat of the day start your hike in the afternoon.
You do not need a wetsuit for this route as you are not required to get in the water.
Take plenty of water, snacks and a sack lunch.
It took my hubby and I six and a half hours to complete the hike. We started at 12 pm and were finished by 6:30 pm. We did this hike in September, and it was so nice not to have the sun beating down on us during the final climb. We are in decent shape (not great). We walked pretty fast and had time for frequent photo stops. We only took about 15 minutes at the pools at the end since the wind was really intense in The Subway and we were a little nervous about getting back before dark. In hind site, I wish we would have stayed at the pools longer.
Good comfy hiking shoes with good traction that can get wet will be your friend.
If you have done the Subway and you have any other tips or additional info we would love to hear from you in the comments below.