How to Hike ""The Subway"" in Zion National Park

How to Hike ""The Subway"" in Zion National Park
Zion National Park is full of natural beauty and excitement, and one of the best ways to see it all is on a hike. While there are several trails in the park that offer the average hiker plenty of views and adventure, the Subway is one of Zion's crowning jewels. If you want to experience Zion in a way that few others get to, you might want to consider hiking the Subway.


Difficulty: Moderately Challenging

Step 1
Obtain a permit. Zion National Park requires all backcountry hikers to obtain a permit. The Subway is one of the park's most popular backcountry excursions, and as such permits are difficult to obtain. Getting one will require planning and flexibility. There are a few ways to obtain a permit. The park-suggested and main way is to enter the permit lottery, which is a $5 non-refundable fee. If your name is drawn, you and your party are eligible to hike on the day your permit allows. You can also visit the backcountry desk at the Zion Canyon Visitor Center the day before or day of your hike to see if there are any permits available. The final option is to become a member of the backcountry permit express group. This group requires enrollment and a minimum number of visits to the backcountry desk, so this option is best for those who live close to Zion. (See Resources below for detailed permit information.)
Step 2
Get in shape. The Subway is a difficult trail that requires the hiker to be in good physical condition. Not only is it a day-long hike in a hot desert climate, but it also calls for the hiker to rappel steep and slippery slopes, be in and out of cold, dirty water, traverse large boulders and small slot canyons and ascend great heights. It is important that you are well-conditioned before attempting this trail.
Step 3
Know before you go. As with any backcountry trail the Subway is not marked by paved roads and carefully placed signs that tell you which way to go. You must be adept at map-reading and backcountry navigation or take along an experienced Subway hiker to avoid being lost in the dangerous and extreme conditions found in Zion National Park.
Step 4
Pack appropriately. Although the Subway is only a day hike, there are several things that you should plan on carrying with you as you traverse this trail.This list should include: plenty of water, energy sustaining snacks, sunblock, a good hat, a comprehensive first-aid kit, a rappel rope at least 60 feet in length, an extra pair of socks and a dry-lock bag to protect these items from water. Items such as sunglasses and cameras should be optional and possibly disposable, as they have a tendency to get lost or broken.
Step 5
Be weather wary. Don't let your excitement and determination to hike the Subway get in the way of sound judgment when it comes to the weather. Check the forecast and with the backcountry desk prior to starting your hike to see if there are any severe weather warnings or closures that you should be aware of. Flash floods pose a real threat in the desert canyons, and it is best to avoid the possibility of being caught in one.
Step 6
Leave no trace. When hiking anywhere in nature it is important to leave the trail as pristine and beautiful as you found it. Make sure to pack out everything you brought in and remember to take only pictures, so that the beauty of the Subway can be enjoyed by all who cross its path.

Tips & Warnings

Hike with at least three people. Should an accident occur, at least one person would stay with the victim while another could go for help.

Article Written By Hollie Reina

Based in St. George, Utah, Hollie Reina recently started her professional writing career writing outdoor-related articles for She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Utah.

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