|THE LEFT FORK OF NORTH CREEK|
|OVERVIEW OF VARIOUS ROUTES|
The Left Fork of North Creek (aka "the Great West Canyon") is one of the most beautiful and most popular canyons in the backcountry of Zion. The most famous section of this canyon is known as "The Subway" -- an amazing half-mile stretch that resembles a tubular tunnel complete with tracks going down the middle. The Left Fork of North Creek has much diverse terrain, and as such, there are several different possible routes, ranging from simple hiking to strenuous technical canyoneering.
The Left Fork has gained epic popularity over the past several years and the National Park Service now limits access to the Subway to 50 people a day. EVERY route through the Left Fork (technical canyoneering or not) requires a permit. Because the Subway is so popular, the NPS also has a lottery system in place to manage the distribution of permit reservations. This layer of bureaucracy may be a bit tedious, but if you plan your hike well in advance, your chances are quite good for getting a permit for a day that you want. A limited amount of walk-in permits are also available the day before. Please see the Zion Permits website for more information.
There are several possible variations for hiking through the Left Fork; all are day-use routes as camping is no longer permitted in the Left Fork.
Seasons and Spring Runoff:
The hiking season for the Subway is typically late spring through autumn, but conditions are much more difficult during the spring runoff which usually takes place during April and May. During high water conditions, spots like the bowling ball corridor and Keyhole Falls can be impassible and other sections may be treacherous. During the cooler months, a wetsuit may provide welcome comfort for those doing the top-down route. If you have any concerns about conditions, please see the Backcountry Desk to get the latest information.
The top-down route is not advised during the winter months and the Kolob Terrace Road is typically closed and buried under snow a mile before the Wildcat Canyon Trailhead.