Turned into a human popsicle to get you this glimpse of Zion’s winter wonderland.
If you do venture out in the winter, be sure to over prepare. There have been many rescues and unfortunately too many deaths in Zion – mostly from hypothermia and exposure (even in the warmer months). The elements are no joke out here. Crampons are a must in icy conditions. Adequate layers, gloves, hats, etc…Hydratation is just as critical though harder to swallow in the winter (I know).
Zion is magical all right, but even more so at sunset with the locals.
Don’t worry, I’ve got great zoom power on my camera. I respect wildlife and keep a respectful distance. Unfortunately, Zion big horn are habituated to humans and quite curious and may even approach you.
Difficulty: Easy, mostly flat, soft surface and obvious trail
Length: 5.8 Miles RT
Elevation gain: ~700ft
This lovely, woodsy hike in Kolob Canyon features a creek, 2 historical cabins, and a double, closed “arch” payoff at the end. (For an open arch hike head up the road to the Kolob Arch Trail.)
The first cabin you’ll encounter on this hike is the Larson Cabin, the second is the Fife Cabin—both were built by homesteaders around 1930.
Especially enchanting in the Fall, this hike is a treat any time of year.
Notes: This is mountain lion territory. You may see tracks. Hike aware and keep small children near you. Since this is an easy, beautiful hike, it’s quite popular. Go early to enjoy more solitude.
Getting there: Exit 40 on I-15. This is the Kolob side of Zion National Park so bring your National Park Pass or pay the entrance fee. Follow the scenic drive to the Taylor Creek parking area on the left.
Difficulty: Moderate, depending upon your fitness level. (Zion National Park’s 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 was too early in the morning, and too much excitement. 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.
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.
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 soooooooo worth it!
Getting there: Left Fork Trailhead on Kolob Terrace Road
Difficulty: Easy—“walk in the park”, perfect trail running terrain, very gradual incline
Length: ~8 roundtrip
Elevation: 1,155 ft
Take a walk on the East side of Zion for fewer humans and similar vistas. There are a couple of different trails to Cable Mountain. I opted for the Stave Spring Trailhead route this time. It’s a pleasant hike on smooth, foot friendly terrain through a recently burned ponderosa forest that yields big views and historic remnant rewards at the turnaround point. (Not much to see along the way.)
Highlights: Vertigo inducing views of Angel’s Landing, Observation Point, and of the water below winding its way to the North fork of the Virgin river. You’ll also find remnants of the Cable Mountain Draw Works. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the structure was an aerial tramway used to move lumber and timber off Cable Mountain and down to Zion Canyon from 1901 to 1927.
Takeaway: You get a similar view payoff as Angel’s Landing (and a view of Angel’s Landing) without the big incline, crowds, and the life-risking part…
Getting there: East Zion, go through the park tunnel and follow the signs for Zion Ponderosa Resort. Make a the left onto the dirt road that goes by the Resort and follow the signs for Cable Mountain.
Note: Dirt road and trail conditions will vary with rain or snow. It is doable by car, but beware there’s a huge dip right before the trailhead parking so proceed with caution (if your vehicle has the mojo) and /or park just prior.
Hiker tip: (Hardcore hikers might find this hike a bit too easy and a bit too bland, except for views at the turnaround point. Great for casual / beginner hikers who want to challenge their distance.) Y There are options to add mileage and elevation gain for those who are looking for more than a “walk in park, including other connector hikes from this trailhead. More on these later…