Zion’s Subway: Bottom Up—Is Tops!

Distance: ~9 mile round-trip (out and back)

Elevation: ~1900ft

Difficulty: Moderate, depending upon your fitness level. (Zion National Park rating is strenuous.) Steep and exposed initial descent and return ascent, otherwise fairly mellow trail with lots of stream crossings / stream walking, some rock-hopping, and minor scrambles over boulders. (Good idea to have some longer hikes with some elevation challenge under your belt before attempting.) Since footing can be precarious at times, especially at the Subway itself, but also along the way, expect the hike to take longer than mileage would indicate. Also, you’ll want to take the time to savor the beauty that surrounds you.  Average hike times range from 5 to 9 hours.

Definitely one of my favorite Utah hikes so far—epic scenery, waterfalls, the magnificent, iconic beauty of the Subway, and a solid workout.

More than 1 of us accidently took the wrong “trail” down.  Not sure how that happened – maybe it too early in the morning, too much excitment. If it looks and feels like you’re navigating down a precipitous, vertical avalanche area —retrace your steps back to the trail and continue on. While the descent and ascent are steep, they are on a definite trail.

The hike description noted a strenuous and steep descent / ascent so we didn’t think we’d gone astray until we found the real trail (pic on right) on the way back.

Apparently, there are some dinosaur tracks just off the “trail” somewhere – their whereabouts remain a mystery to me. I’ll let you know if I find them on my next trip.

Keep your eyes out for snakes, toads, and trout.

And yes, there’s also a top-down route to the Subway that requires canyoneering, rappelling, and swimming. It may be in my future—will report back if and when.

Heads-up:

  • Walking stick with a solid rubber end and grippy shoes highly recommended. (You’ll be traversing many slippery rock sections through the stream and at the subway itself. Be cautious – safe is better than sorry. Many helicopter rescues occur here. Don’t be one of them.)
  • Be aware of flash flood danger and heat exhaustion exposure. Get the weather report and double-check with rangers. I went in April and it was 90 degrees by midday—some fellow had heat stroke on the trail. (Bring plenty of water, a hat, and sunscreen.)
  • This is a day use only area and permits are required. An advance lottery system applies from April to October and calendar reservation applies from November through March. There is also a last-minute drawing and you can always check for cancelations day of—unlikely, but we met a couple who nailed both a same day cancellation opening for the hike and a campsite so you never know. (Permits are $15 for 2, $20 for up to 7, and $25 for up to 12 people.) Lottery, reservation, and permit details here.

Good luck – it’s worth it!

Getting there: Left Fork Trailhead on Kolob Terrace Road

Happy Trails!

Yowza! Yant Flat! Leeds, UT

Also known as Candy Cliffs, this rocky wonderland is more than sweet- it requires a default to the overused superlative “EPIC” with an added “for sure”!

Only the first mile is a sandy trail, the rest is create your own adventure (at your own risk) across all types of fascinating colored and textured rock topography. Some steep, slippery sections… If you’re lucky, you might find the one crevasse that will take you down to the wash that you barely see in the distance way down below. Or like me, you may choose the wrong route and end up at a dead end, which could turn into a dead end in more ways than 1.

Length: 2-infinity miles

Getting there (4-wheel drive with clearance recommended): Cottonwood Springs Road in St. George to FR903

Notes: Would not attempt the drive or hike in the rain

For similar views at a slightly smaller scale and without the need for a 4-wheel drive, check out the Snow Canyon Overlook Trail

Mansard Trail, Kanab, UT Scenic hike with great views, rock formations, and petroglyphs!

Distance: ~5.2 miles

Elevation gain: 1,311 ft

Difficultly: Easy to moderate depending on your fitness level (1 easy scramble required midway)

I loved this little hike. A feast for the eyes and spirit–the vermillion cliffs, the white rocks, the green pines and Bristlecones, the incredible rock formations along the way, the sweeping views of Kanab and the plateaus of northern Arizona, and the big reward of the magnificent alcove with its amazing petroglyphs. The single-track, switchback trail is red dirt most of the way up and thick, fine sand for the last 1/2 mile – great trail running terrain. If you’re in the Kanab area – it’s an absolute must do! Perhaps you can see why…

Notes: No permits needed. Free parking. The petroglyphs date back to the Anasazi period 0 AD to about 1250 AD and are on the floor of the alcove. Take care not to touch or step on any of the ancient art as oil from your hands or your pets’ paws can destroy the petroglyphs.

Getting there: The trailhead us just 6 miles east of the center of Kanab at 4825-4826 Rock Edge Lane

Happy trails!

Forsyth Trail: Fine Trail With Fantastic Views, Pine Valley, UT

Difficulty: Butt Kicker

Elevation Gain: 3,2385

Total Distance: 10 Miles RT

Forsyth is a kinder, more gentle trail than the Brown’s Point Trail and it offers an even greater reward—far more splendid, panoramic views. Don’t get me wrong they are both great hikes, but if you can only do one, it should be Forsyth for the gurgling stream that runs alongside the trail for miles and the stellar views at the top. The first 3.5 miles are mostly shaded with a steady incline. Once you hit the 3.5 mark, the trail takes off its kid gloves and puts your fitness to the test by packing a powerful punch of elevation gain into the last 1.5 miles. Despite that elevation packed punch at the end, I’d say this trail is MUCH easier than Brown’s Point Trail even though the mileage difference is less a 1/2 mile and the elevation difference is just a couple hundred feet.  If you’re into peak bagging, there are add on options to Burger Peak (~11.8 miles & 4,268 feet elevation) and Signal Peak. (I’ll update if / when I do those 2.)

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Getting There: Turn left onto FR 035/E Main St/Pine Valley Rd and right at the sign for Forsyth Trail / Meadows Dr / U1212.

Notes: Dog friendly trail!

Navajo Lake Loop: MTB Nirvana, Cedar City, UT

I don’t tend to throw the word epic around much though I have been on some epic mountain bike rides – Tahoe’s Flume Trail, Lake Crescent’s Spruce Railroad Trail, and while not epic per se, that little gem, Diamond Valley Lake was quite lovely too. Fond memories of those rides were stirred up by my ride today on the Navajo Lake Trail. It was by accident that I arrived here as I had set out to do the Navajo Loop Trail in Brian Head, but never found that trail head. Instead, I thought I’d try my luck at the Navajo Lake Loop and I was not not disappointed.

It’s a sweet, highly scenic, nontechnical single track cruise by way of Navajo Lake Loop Trail and the Virgin River Rim Trail, aka the other half of the Navajo Lake Loop Trail. Apologies, I didn’t take as many pictures as I usually do – guess I was having too much fun. Guess, you’ll have to go see how beautiful it is for yourself.

Interesting fact: The lake was created when a lava flow dammed the eastern end of the valley.

Distance: 11 Miles

Staring elevation: 9,035′

Elevation gain: 827 ft

NLT vista 1

Just right for my Sunday afternoon. In case you’re wondering what this place looks like in the winter, here’s a pic from an afternoon snow shoeing in Deer Valley.

Frozen Navajo Lake

Getting there: From Cedar City  go east on Scenic Byway SR 14, 25 miles to the Navajo Lake road turnoff and keep your eyes open for the Navajo Lake Loop Trailhead parking sign on the right side of the road. It’s free to park.

 

Ps. There are campgrounds, and fishing, boating, and swimming are allowed.