The Subway

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The Subway Canyoneering Canyoning Caving
Also known as: Zion Subway Top to Bottom; Subway Bottom-Up; North Creek.
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Difficulty:3B III (v3a2 III)
Raps:‌4, max ↨30ft
Overall:5-12h ⟷9.5mi
Approach: ↑380ft
Exit: ↑490ft
Red Tape:Permit required
Shuttle:Required 20 min
Rock type:Sandstone
Condition Reports:
6 Nov 2022

"Team of 2 (1 beginner and 1 brand new) had a pretty easy time with The Subway, but definitely wouldn't be possible if we didn't have drysuits. Water

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Best season:
Spring; Summer; Fall


The Subway is an extremely popular hike through the left fork of North Creek. The Subway portion of the hike is relatively brief, preceded by a long approach down and over slickrock, and followed by a lot of boulder hopping down the watercourse and a steep hike out of the canyon. There is also a bottom-up version of this hike, but it is non-technical and not described on this site.

Although this route is a very easy canyoneering trip, it is long and requires canyoneering techniques. A number of teams not fully prepared for these challenges have required rescue, and there have been multiple deaths (via falling and while on rappel)



From Virgin, Utah, head northeast on Kolob Reservoir Road and deposit a vehicle in the lower parking lot. Continue north and the road will eventually make a hairpin right turn to climb a steep hill. The upper parking lot and trail head will be at the top of this hill down a short dirt road as the paved road makes a sharp left turn.


Follow the trail out of the parking lot to the east. Pass the Connector trail junction and head to the Northgate Peaks junction. Turn right on the Northgate Peaks trail and look for the Subway turnoff about 400 feet from the junction. Follow the cairns down the slickrock to an overlook. Find a trail down from the overlook on its southeast side and continue past Russell Gulch and slightly uphill over the slickrock. Continue past the slickrock saddle and follow the cairns down the slickrock and through the brush to another overlook. Descend from this point to the confluence of Russell Gulch and Das Boot which forms the beginning of the technical route.


Follow the canyon down stream. There are four possible rappels, all of which are easy by canyoneering standards. However, this route is frequently traveled by teams with substantially less skill than usual and there may be extended wait times at each rappel.

R1: 25’ from bolts on downstream face of large, flat rock center canyon.

R2: 10’ from rock pinch into a constriction with a smooth, nearly-spherical boulder at its base; a likely down-climb for skilled teams.

R3: 15’ from bolts RDC. This is the likely site of one death when the rappeller was inverted under the water flow and was unable to free himself.

R4: 20’ from bolts above a pothole RDC.


Following the end of the technical section, there is 2.2 miles of strenuous boulder-hopping to the exit point. Be sure not to miss this point! At the exit point, follow the trail up the steep cliff wall RDC to the rim. Continue on the most prominent trail back to the lower parking lot.

Red tape

A permit is required for this hike and the permit can be very difficult to obtain. A lottery is held more than a month in advance for popular dates, and popular dates include most weekends June through September. Descending Russell Gulch or Das Boot requires an additional permit apart from the Subway permit.

Das Boot and Subway permits and availability information are available here. Russell Gulch permits may be obtained at the Zion Backcountry desk.

Beta sites

Trip reports and media



Information provided by automated processes. KML map by (unknown). Main photo by (unknown). Authors are listed in chronological order.

In all habitats live animals and plants that deserve respect, please minimize impact on the environment and observe the local ethics. Canyoneering, Canyoning, Caving and other activities described in this site are inherently dangerous. Reliance on the information contained on this site is solely at your own risk. There is no warranty as to accuracy, timeliness or completeness of the information provided on this site. The site administrators and all the contributing authors expressly disclaim any and all liability for any loss or injury caused, in whole or in part, by its actions, omissions, or negligence in procuring, compiling or providing information through this site, including without limitation, liability with respect to any use of the information contained herein. If you notice any omission or mistakes, please contribute your knowledge (more information).


Incident:Fractured jaw and busted teeth in The Subway 2019/09/13trueInjury2019-09-13