Zion: Barrier Falls

Beyond Double Falls

Categories: Zion

While everyone around the world applies for a permit and a parking space to do The Subway hike in Zion National Park, there is a canyon just a few miles away with almost nobody in it. The Subway is a short section of the Left Fork of North Creek. The neighboring canyon to the south is carved by the Right Fork of North Creek. Right Fork Canyon is more rugged than the Left Fork, with only intermittent trails of use and plenty of annoying obstacles. But, for intrepid hikers who make it about 6 miles you will be rewarded with a series of very nice waterfalls and pools.

After crossing the river and entering the valley of the left for you will soon come across an active landside (left picture). In past years the landslide had damed the canyon and formed a shallow lake behind it but it has recently cut through. It’s an interesting area with a lot of visible and ongoing destruction, so it isn’t a good place to take a nap. On the right i wasn’t very impressed with the initial narrowing of the canyon.

It had been almost 25 years since it’d hiked up to twin falls and i absolutely did not remember ever being forced into a pool. I heard from another avid Zion hiker that some years the water is low enough to pass by without getting wet. In May of 2019 it was above my knees.

The cold water was just what i needed. It had already been getting hot on the lava cliffs and grassy fields at the mouth of the canyon.

The canyon became more interesting for a while with open stretches of bedrock to travel on.

During mid day there still weren’t many shady locations for much of the hike, so it’s good to take advantage of them when you can.

The stream slowly cuts through various layers of the canyon.

Double Falls! I thought it had turned into a Triple Falls but i guess the name refers to another falls being above it, although that one is farther back than it looks. Quite a few things were different than my last visit. A part of the overhanging ledge had collapsed and several nice trees had been destroyed or severely damaged.

Getting up Double/Twin/Triple Falls is a bit tricky but if you make it it won’t be long before you run into a series of additional falls.

I’m standing up, not squatting for this image.

Another large pool! There’s no trail and there’s definitely more climbing to do in the last 1/2 mile.

A weeping wall!

The canyon was getting much narrower and rising quickly. I didn’t know how much farther i’d be able to make it.

A very nice pool with a bonzai sculpted tree on its last legs.

At last, Barrier Falls. It’s a barrier to further progress, get it? But, coming from the other direction is a very fun, multi-day technical canyoneering route that begins on the West Rim Trail. I hope to do that some day.

Turning back from Barrier Falls i passed by everything once again but in better light than the first time.

Pretty cool patterns in the mud.

This was an area with several little falls pouring from a hanging garden.

On the left i felt like that might be quicksand, so i stayed in the brush. It might not be, but after you’ve plunged into quicksand enough times you start to develop a 6th sense for the stuff. But not always.

Having reached my goal, on the way back i was able to take some time to enjoy some of the areas i had blazed through on the way up.

Underneath Double Falls!

I love when i see so many places i forget about some of them on the way back. This is a nice stretch of open rock canyon.

Back at the deep pool. This ledges under the water are slimy, so you have to be careful not to slide off into the deeper water.

I had never seen this peak before and i don’t know what it is called.

The white rocks up there are where i need to be someday. They are very difficult to get to.

Looks like a big city skyline. There has got to be some good wall climbing up there.

Looking back after passing once more through the landslide area, which is a kind of gateway.

Late in the day but the top of the ridge in the distance was the final climb. Just had to cross the Left Fork, or both after the confluence.

There are some cool trees in the ghost forest before you ascend the lava cliffs.

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