Zion Subway Part II
You may recall my May 26, 2022 newsletter was about the Zion Subway. I enjoyed that trip so much that I jumped at the chance to do it again earlier in June. Our group of nine did it via the “standard route” on June 10, 2023.
To start, permits are required to do the Subway. When we returned to our car, there were rangers checking for them and we witnessed another group getting fined for not having them. As I wrote in a previous newsletter, you can apply for a permit for the competitive hikes in Zion up to six months in advance. Due to the nature of the top hikes like the Subway, camping in the Narrows, and Angel’s Landing, you should try to request permits exactly six months in advance. It’s sad that one has to jump through bureaucratic hoops long in advance to do many of the top hikes in the southwest, but the alternative of overcrowding would be worse.
We all stayed at the Zion Wildflower the night before, where I’m friendly with the manager who kindly gave us a nice discount. I’d like to put in a good word for them. Although it comes off as a glamping place, accommodations are very modern and comfortable. The pool is great and there are lots of games to play on a big lawn. The location is several miles west of Springdale.
All three ways to rappel into the Subway require doing a car shuttle. The beginning of the hike goes downhill through a lovely and seldom visited section of Zion. The route is difficult to follow. You will need to have someone in your group who is familiar with it. After a couple hours you descend into a canyon. Then the excitement begins.
At this section there are many places you need to use ropes. No huge rappels, but many short ones. Many are so short they can be downclimbed, but the last one pretty much requires a rappel, unless there is some other way I’m not familiar with.
That last rappel takes you into the main section of the Subway, which can be hiked from below. This section that looks like a subway tunnel is famous and one of the most scenic hikes I have ever done. Words don’t do it justice so I’ll have to give you some pictures. The subway tunnel section is not very long, so make the most of it.
The hike out crosses the river many times. I think the best way to treat this section is to wear neoprene socks inside of hiking boots and just walk through the water. Some places you can’t avoid getting your feet wet. After following along the Left Fork of North Creek for a few hours, you suddenly cut up and out of the canyon, back to the first parking lot where you would have left at least one vehicle.