When I began researching and planning our first trip to Zion National Park for the summer of 2011, I knew that there were three hikes which I really wanted to do.  These were Angels Landing, the Zion Narrows, and The Subway.  The Subway proved to be the most difficult of all three, mainly because securing a permit was so challenging.  And the hike wasn't easy, either.  We were showing up in the middle of summer at peak visitation, and Subway permits were very scarce.  The way I got my permit was mainly by refreshing the permit reservations center on the  internet every 30 minutes or so for a 2 week period before our trip.  What I was looking for was any cancellations for the time period we would be in Zion.  Eventually, I logged on one morning and found out that 12 reserved permits had canceled, so I snatched up 3 of them for our group, which consisted of myself, Daria, and Alesya.  We ended up getting a late start for our hike, mainly because the park makes it so difficult and slow to pick up your permit.  I had to stand around for an hour or more just waiting for the people in front of me to decide what they wanted to do and pick up their own permits, sometimes for the next day.  And I couldn't pick up our permits any earlier, as I was hiking the day before in the Zion Narrows (an all day plus hike) and the park refused to either give me my permits more than one day in advance or allow Daria to pick them up.  To say the least, it's a very archaic and slow system in place in Zion, when all I needed to do was pick up our permits so we could start our hike.  Finally, I was able to get them and we began our hike around 11am after taking the drive out to the trailhead.

The hike to The Subway from the bottom (which involves no climbing) begins at the Left Fork Trailhead, where you park and display a special parking permit in your window.  We hiked through the forest for a short time before coming out to a clearing with a majestic view of the Left Fork and the scenic canyon we would be passing through.  From this point, there is a steep drop down to North Creek and caution is definitely in order.  Once we finally got down to the creek, we took a short break and went swimming, since it was extremely hot out (we were hiking in near 100 degree weather).  Next, we turned left and began following the creek, which involved carefully looking for the trails on the left and right sides.  The going was quite slow, as this was a new hike for us and we were busy trying to keep our feet dry.  A few hours passed, during which we ate lunch, checked out some dinosaur tracks, went swimming again, and generally just appreciated and enjoyed the beautiful scenery on display through this area.  At some point, we finally realized the foolishness of trying to keep our feet dry and so we just started walking through the water.  That was the key to making real progress.  We walked through the creek and reached the cascades, which were a number of small, very pretty waterfalls.  When we reached The Subway, all of us were very impressed with the spectacular beauty found there.  The undercut canyon shaped like a tunnel, the pristine pools of water, and the waterfall at the end were all amazing.  Definitely one of the best hikes we have ever been on and our favorite hike in Zion National Park.  (A note about the pictures below-- I forgot my camera battery for this hike and because we were running short on time, instead of going back to retrieve it at camp, I just decided to let Alesya take the pictures for the day with her camera.  That's why you see the time stamps on our pictures below, which I usually don't do.  But she did a great job in taking pictures for us on this day.)
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At the start of the hike, where a sign notes that permits are necessary to hike The Subway.  I've heard of cases where people got fined hundreds of dollars for hiking without permits:
Steve ready to embark on his third and final hike on this trip to Zion:
The next two pictures show the towering rock formations on the cliffs above:
Passing through the red dirt trail which leads through the forest:
An incredible view of the Left Fork of North Creek, which is the canyon we will be passing through next to the water:
Looking off to the right from the lookout point:
Three pictures of the girls enjoying their time at the lookout point:
It took us quite some time to get down to the bottom of the creek.  The descent was very steep and we had to be cautious:
Once we arrived, the first thing we did was take a break and go swimming:
And then the real hike began, as we were criss-crossing the creek back and forth looking for routes that kept our feet dry:
Steve and Daria on the trail in the midst of all the greenery:
The next two pictures show the dinosaur tracks we found preserved in the rock.  I usually don't mention this type of thing when I find it on Death Valley hikes, however Zion allows it to be published in guidebooks.  So here it is:
Continuing to stay dry and follow the creek upstream:
At the top middle of this picture, you can see a large fish swimming in the creek.  We saw quite a few fish along the way:
Small but pretty waterfalls in the next two pictures:
As we reached the cascades, we were passed by fellow hikers who were heading back.  In fact, we were the last group of the day.  The hikers told us just to start walking through the water, so we did:
Daria and Steve at the cascades section of the creek:
A frog sits on a rock in the middle of the creek, watching us:
The water was so refreshing being that we were hiking on such a hot day:
Continuing up the cascades in the next three pictures:
First appearance of a polished, undercut canyon curved like the side of a tunnel:
Two more larger cascades as we neared the end of the wide canyon:
The last one was too slippery to climb, so we used a bypass through the brush:
Check out these beautiful rounded walls in the next two pictures.  And we hadn't even reached The Subway yet:
Notice that the canyon walls towered above us as we entered the narrows:
Water was flowing down this long crack in the middle of the rock:
And finally we had arrived at The Subway:
An almost fully enclosed natural tunnel of rock to walk through:
An extremely beautiful spot with pools of water and the flowing creek all contained in the tunnel like atmosphere:
Check out these gorgeous pools in the next five pictures.  It was so pretty that I decided to jump in:
Three shots looking back out The Subway from inside of it:
Water was flowing gently over the textured red rock:
Three more pictures of the largest pool in The Subway:
A nice picture taken looking up and out of The Subway at the walls high above:
Two final pictures of the lower portion of The Subway before moving on:
This was the end of the staying dry portion.  Up until now, we only had to get our feet and legs wet, but to continue and see more it would require swimming:
A couple of pictures taken as we swam through the tight passage:
We eventually swam into the waterfall room, which is a wide enclosed area:
And this is the waterfall in the narrows, which represents the end of the hike in from the bottom:
Definitely a very pretty waterfall and wonderful way to end the hike:
Steve and Daria both headed into the smaller waterfall room and found a hidden section behind the waterfall:
Two final pictures taken on the way out.  There is more to see in The Subway, but you have to use ropes and climbing gear, or take dangerous bypasses, and we weren't up for that today:
Back at camp, it was soon time to say goodbye to Zion: