Zion National Park – Left Fork Trail – Subway Entrance


It’s been a very busy Autumn for me. I was on the road taking pictures from late September through mid-November. I have lots of images to share and just finished editing them all.

Some of my favorites were close by.

I hiked what is known as the “Subway” route, officially called the “Left Fork” Trail. It’s the second time I have done the trip.

It’s a very rugged trail, about 9 miles round trip scrambling over boulders and crossing the river many, many times. The scrambling and length of the trail makes it a difficult hike, much more so than the Narrows trail which I have written about. The first decent and even more so final assent back up is brutally steep.  ….

The first time I did the hike was on November 5, 2015. This time it was November 10, 2021.

I went back this time specifically for this image at the entrance to the subway. This is on the outside looking in. My previous post and images from 2015 were from the inside looking out, the normal view.

The trail was far more crowded the first time and there were at least a dozen photographers competing for the best spots at two of the three key shots.

This hike, all the leaves were down, but there were some beautiful pools with swirling leaves and I pretty much had the place to myself.

For photography purposes , it’s best to be on the trail at dawn in order to get to the best spots around noon or 1:00 PM when the reflected light is best. The key spots are all bunched near the end of the trek.

The Subway is the end of the trail but you pass numerous waterfalls and beautiful scenes along the way.

This is a world class hike. Spots are limited and the hike is on a lottery system. You need a permit and fines are very steep for hiking without one.

There were empty open slots this time because it was not on a weekend and most likely because the leaves were down.

Early to Mid-November is the best time to hike. Competition for open slots on weekends in September and October is intense.

Inside Looking Out

Feature Image Details

Tips and Techniques

  1. For the best possible images, you need a tripod. That adds to the weight you need to carry.
  2. A circular polarizer helps greatly to remove unwanted reflections. It also slows the shutter speed to capture the motion.
  3. Reflected light is always the best light in these canyons.
  4. The best light in the 11:00 AM and 1:00 PM.

Compare the featured image to #1 on the list below. Note how clear the water is here. It is spring fed and normally clear, something I just found out on this hike.

My first hike was after a rain and there was a lot of silt in the water.

On this tip, there were no leaves at Archangel Falls or The Crack. (links 2 and 3 below). But I got a better image inside the Subway and also a nice images right at the entrance of the Subway that I will cover in my next article along with a waterfall I believe is nameless that I dub “The Slide”

Other Zion National Park Articles 

  1. Zion National Park – Subway Trek Part Three – Inside the Subway
  2. Zion National Park – Subway Trek Part Two – The Crack
  3. Zion National Park – Subway Trek Part One – Archangel Falls
  4. Zion National Park Autumn – Great White Throne
  5. Zion National Park – Autumn – Lower Emerald Pools Part 1
  6. Zion National Park – Autumn – Lower Emerald Pools Part 2 (After a Rainfall)
  7. Zion National Park – Autumn – Middle and Upper Emerald Pools
  8. Zion National Park – The Watchman – Autumn
  9. Zion National Park – Autumn – Hiking “The Narrows” Part I
  10. Zion National Park – Autumn – Hiking “The Narrows” Part II
  11. Zion National Park – Autumn – Hiking “The Narrows” Part III
  12. Zion National Park – Autumn – Clear Creek
  13. Zion Narrows Take IV (Just how Waterproof is Canon’s EOS Mirrorless R5?) Part II
  14. Zion National Park – Left Fork Trail – Subway


Those interested in my equipment and recommendations can find it here: Mish’s Equipment List.

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Much more coming including more Narrows images from this last trip: Click to Subscribe by Email.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock

2 thoughts on “Zion National Park – Left Fork Trail – Subway Entrance

  1. The lead is a bit different than the email. The exposure of 10 seconds was the longest I could get and it truncated the horizontal swirls. I blended a couple of exposures together. The central swirl was trapped in one spot and barely changed.

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