The Subway: Left Fork North Creek
Last Candition: May 5, 2011
Wore wetsuits 4/3, but a group of two was going through without them. No necessary water until after the first rap (the rabbit hole would have required getting in the water). The bowling ball can just be stepped right over easily now. Some of the sand appears to have washed out from previous reports. A lot more large logs in the watercourse compared to previously - one creates a new climb over/under obstacle.
Water lightly flowing out of Das Boot so there is water the entire length. A lot of sand in the canyon. Only the last rappel was necessary. The two Subway sections were not as impacted by sand as I've seen on previous trips. The waterfall room is one exception where there is significant sand.
The Subway is jam-packed with sand right now, hiding many of the best features of the canyon. The potholes and waterfall room in The Subway proper are nearly full to the brim with sand. The rap at keyhole falls is currently a 5 foot downclimb. We climbed OVER the bowling ball chokestone after the falls (could almost step over it).
It is much more scenic and fun with much less sand, thus the '2' rating.
After 20 yrs of hiking and canyoneering Zion I finally applied for and obtained a permit. I had a hard time believing Subway could live up to all the hype. But it came through with stunning beauty, broad flat wet slick rock walking sections, an underwater arch, and an amazing waterfall hidden back behind the last rap in a small enclosed cave.
We did encounter a large rattle snake on the hike in - keep your eyes open!!
Regarding the condition- anchors good, log still jammed in slot, it must be drier than normal but we thought it had plenty of water fun.
Took a group of 3, with 2 newbies, through the Subway in 8 hours. We stopped for 45 minutes before the 1st rap and took another 45 minute break at the main Subway section, plus 3-4 more shorter breaks.
All anchors are in good condition. Chockstone is still a climb over and jump in. The handline is still there but not recommended -- it would be hard to lower yourself safely.
Water was chilly (we'd guess high 50's) but we were fine on a 68° partly cloudy day in 3mm full wetsuits. One person wore a farmer john's and was quite cold in the swims. It was a windy day so we brought hard shells as well.
We left the Wildcat Canyon trailhead at noon and made it to the Left Fork trailhead at 7:45pm. It was a Saturday and we didn't see another soul the entire time! A rare luxury and an amazing experience. Turnoff to the exit trail is well marked with cairns as you approach the sign -- hard to miss.
Had a group of 11 (all noobs) and took us 9 1/2 hrs. A little longer than I would have liked. The last few miles slows everyone down.
Anchors in good condition. The bowling ball section changed dramatically, even from last May. Once you reach the chock-stone, you either need to lower yourself on the extremely slippery log (dangerous) or take a 3ft jump into the deep pool (recommended). The potholes in the Subway section are chest deep. Bring a wetsuit if you wanna play in it this time of year.
Did subway via Das Boot. Subway had pretty typical flow (maybe 1-2 CFM? ) and clean/warm water--very casual stroll, no obstacles or anything weird encountered. Almost warm enough that you could do with no wetsuit, although I'd definitely want one.
Hike out hot and unremarkable.
Came from Das Boot. Canyon was in normal summertime conditions. We had on 4/3s due to das boot and were fine. Got a late start and only ran into one other group. Heading down canyon after the subway section we stuck to the right and ran into a trail and were able to follow it easily (much easier than I remember) past the dinosaur tracks and pretty much all the way to the exit. Fastest exit yet.
Took a party of 12 (10 noobs) through standard route from car to car in 7 hours! It helps when everyone is self-sufficient.
small trickle flowing into Russell Gulch approach. The upper watercourse above the rock obstacle downclimb/rappel had pools everywhere. A lot of water. The keyhole section still has the two logs jammed in between them and is holding back a lot of sand. Once you reach the logjam, you have to jump. It is a swimmer for at least 15feet. That was the only deep swimmer.
Most of the group didn't have wetsuits and were okay - especially in the 99degree heat! Perfect day with a fast group!
It was a 70-degree day and we were all grateful for wetsuits. Those with farmer john style wished for a bit more protection. Beautiful as always. Still quite a bit of sand in upper part; bowling ball is walk-over. New rap station is great. I like being deposited right near the waterfall room better than the old walk-around.
Lots of sand. Cold water at the top. Much warmer water down canyon. Only 2 or 3 swimmers. With a large group we were happy to have full wetsuits (4/3) and neo socks because it was a windy day. Everyone was pretty cold by the end of the "subway section" but warmed up quickly during the walk down the creek.
Water felt fairly warm but we also had just finished Das boot so that may be deceiving. Not as much swimming as normal. Awesome conditions and weather this time of year
Took a group of 5 in 6 1/2 hours from top down. Took a LOT of great photos. For this annual trip, there was a LOT of sand in the top half, and the lower half had much LESS. The bowling ball corridor definitely changed. In the past, you would need to downclimb and swim underneath the log. This time, you drop into waist deep water (due to the sand) and walk to the boulder. You can't go underneath at all, so you climb on top and then jump into a 30ft swimmer (like usual). Keyhole falls was topped off with sand. It seemed more like a 5-6ft downclimb onto soft sand. The lower pools, or subway section, doesn't have much sand, thankfully. Beautiful down there! 3/2 wetsuits were worn and 1 drysuit for a lady. Worked out well for November.
The canyon above the springs was drier than I have seen it in the past. That said, the upper pools were still deep enough to swim and were chilly.
The sand that others had seen filling the canyon has been washed out. The pools and channels are back to their normal depths. The amount of handlines that adorn the bowling ball now is sad. Easy downclimb with few penalty points if you slip into the swimmer.
Fall colors were done in the canyon but lower in the watercourse it might still have not reached peak.
All anchors in great shape. Beautiful fall colors are prime right now! The last flash filled in all the fun! The bowling ball is a walk over now! No longer a swim under it, filled up with sand and debris. Canyon has a lot of sand, minimizing the holes along the way. :-(
Still a beautiful hike at this time of year.
The scenery is the same, but a lot of the obstacles are different. Keyhole falls is not full of water like it was before. Also, the bowling ball is now something you climb over instead of swimming under.
Took 6 of us via Russel Gulch, 6 1/2hrs from car to car. Very cold water at 1st and 2nd swimmers. Bowling Ball section was ice-cold as well. However, it looks like another log has been added to that section as the clearance is much lower. Now there are 2 logs to dodge. You can either use the 3rd floating log to climb on top of the chockstone and jump in) or we would recommend going feet-first through it. Great temps to hike in after the subway proper, which probably made our trip extra fast. Oh, there is no log at the subway shower as it has been properly noted, but groups have been either jumping across (dumb idea for noobs and inexperienced) but the better option is to rappel as we saw a few folks do.
Did the canyon from top to bottom with a group of seven; took us 7.5 hrs from upper trailhead to lower trailhead.
The mandatory swims are freezing and wetsuits are highly recommended! The swim under the bowling ball has a log on the down canyon side which makes for a tight but doable swim through. The springs come in right after and are surprisingly warm.
The log bridge at the last rap is washed away, so the new anchors on the right side should be used.
Hiked top down - Water in the canyon was perfect temp - probably didn't need the neoprene socks I wore.
The final rappel has a new log across the gap over the waterfall that a group hauled up. It barely long enough to be touching on both sides, and is quite flexible and smallish in diameter. I did not test it by crossing and instead rappelled on the new anchors on the right (RDC).
Standard Approach. Water was plenty cold. I recommend full suits. There is a TON of sand downstream of keyhole falls and is filling some and completely occluding a number of potholes in the money section. Unfortunate. Still very pretty and worthwhile. Anchors and webbing in good shape.
Encountered a VERY large rattle snake along the trail. Keep your eyes open.