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The hike to the Subway in Zion National Park and back is around 7 miles and an all day affair including several hours for photography and lunch. The upstream hike of the Left Fork of the North Creek doesn’t require any canyoneering skills but some bouldering, stream crossings and walking in the creek are needed, all part of the fun. Just a bit before the Subway is Archangel Falls, really a series of small cascades. In late fall, the cottonwood trees turn yellow and provide nice color to the scene. Even in late morning, the canyon wall keeps it in shade. Fall weather also lessens the chance of flash flooding, and the lower stream flow makes hiking the creek far easier. On the other hand, the lower water flow reduces the size of the cascades. I compensated for this by experimenting with various shutter speeds and compositions that emphasized the seasonal quality of the location.
The trip to the Subway requires a permit from the National Park Service. While the weather is quite temperate in late October, and we did it in shirtsleeves, the Subway itself is surprisingly cold, so bring extra layers. While we wore regular hiking shoes, I recommend you use canyoneering shoes with sticky rubber soles. I saw several photographers slip and fall trying to climb ledges inside the Subway itself. While it’s nearly impossible to get lost on the hike to the Subway, on the return recognizing when to exit the canyon and begin the climb to the rim is important. Take the time when first reaching the creek to look around, especially at that section of canyon wall you descended, and note the trail markers.
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