Subway Hike at Zion NP

The Subway Tunnel hike is one of the best hikes in Zion National Park.  Considered one of “Big 3” hikes of Zion, the Subway is accessible from the top trail or bottom up which need different skills and equipment. This hike is often a favorite of Zion, in particular with photographers.


Top Down

The “top down” trail into the Subway is more exciting. The only way into the tunnel is by rappelling down into the canyon. Knowledge on rappelling, the equipment, and all safety measures is important for at least one member in the group. This way into the tunnel also requires some potential swimming.


Bottom Up

The “bottom up” from the Left Fork Trailhead does not need any technical climbing skills. Aside from the original descent to the riverbed, the trail is relatively flat. This trail requires maneuvering through the river bed and ends at the tunnel. Depending on water levels, sections of the river may be knee deep, however for most of the year it is ankle deep or lower.


The Subway Hike, Zion National Park, Utah

The Subway


This hike requires a permit for both directions into the Subway. Head to the visitor center to get a permit. Ask the Rangers for up to date information on the hike, the water level, and for any tips based on current conditions. Permits cost $20 in addition to the National Park fee. If going during the summer, we recommend to show up at or before opening, as there are few permits available.


How to Get There

  • Bottom Up: Trail starts from the Left Fork Trailhead, 10 miles from the visitor center

  • Top Down: Trail starts from Wildcat Canyon Trailhead

The Subway Hike, Zion National Park, Utah

Trail begins on flat ground above the river


Hiking The Subway Trail Bottom Up


Hike Details

Our Hike:  11.0 Miles, 1,450 feet gain, 5 hours 24 minutes

Difficulty: Moderate


The Hike

The beginning of the hike is flat and can get muddy. There are excellent viewpoints of the canyon and down to the river. There is a steep descent from these overlooks all the way down to the river.

The Subway Hike, Zion National Park, Utah

View down to the river before your descent

Once at the riverbed, the trail will stay along the river the rest of the way. Cross the river several times to continue on the trail.

The Subway Hike, Zion National Park, Utah

Crossing the river and bouldering rocks

For several miles, the trail continues to snake along the river, with small boulders here and there. The landscape and river changes the last mile before arriving at the Subway. Hike or climb over the cascading waterfalls. This section of the hike is very slippery.

The Subway Hike, Zion National Park, Utah

Walking over the cascading falls is very slippery

Try to avoid the slippery dark green moss on the rocks. We all fell at least once, getting our legs wet. During this stretch, there are sections where waterproof boots would come in handy. Several times, we walked through water 1 -3 inches deep.

The Subway Hike, Zion National Park, Utah

Entry to the Subway

The entrance to the Subway tunnel is grand and obvious. The huge canyon walls on both sides close in, forming the Subway at the bottom.

The Subway Hike, Zion National Park, Utah

Panoramic of the Subway and our setup


This is an amazing hike. Go slow and be careful when crossing in water, and be sure to protect your gear as you cross. Be ready to get wet. Enjoy!

The Subway Hike, Zion National Park, Utah

The Subway Tunnel


What to Bring on the Hike

  • Permits

  • Hiking shoes (waterproof recommended)

  • Trekking poles

  • Extra socks

  • Sunblock

  • Water

  • Snacks

  • Bathing suit (if you plan to swim in one of the swimming holes)

  • Light waterproof jacket

  • Pack rain cover

  • Dry bag



Check out our other Utah Articles:


Return to Destinations




Visited on 01/29/2016.


Let Us Know What You Think? Comment Here...

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial